Understanding British Politics and How it Works

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An Image of The Prime Minister's Official Residence

British politics can be hard to follow. For starters, the United Kingdom is both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The monarch – currently Queen Elizabeth II – is the head of state, while the Prime Minister is the head of government. And, this minor confusion is just the beginning. Add in the differing policies of around a dozen different political parties, the complex system of devolution that grants higher degrees of self-government to several of its countries, and finally Brexit, and the idea of trying to understand it all truly becomes daunting. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent sources out there that can help. Fortunately, we at British politics journal are here to help you.

What You Can Read or Watch to Learn British Politics

There are tons of sources you can look to for current British political news, but that won’t teach you how it all works. Some books you might check out include Chris Mullin’s “A Very British Coup,” the story of an unlikely candidate who became the Prime Minister. Another great source is “The Ghost,” by Robert Harris, which chronicles the legacy of Tony Blair.

Private Eye is a biweekly magazine that pokes fun at British politics. If you prefer to take your education with a side of entertainment, there are plenty of great TV shows that can shed light on the subject of British politics. For example, the widely acclaimed series “The West Wing,” an American series that frequently demonstrates the ways American politics can affect politics across the pond.

How the British Political System Works

British politics is made very confusing by the separate head of government and head of state, as well as its many political parties and multiple branches of government. The judiciary branch is entirely separate from the executive and legislative branches, and legislative power is split between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which together make up the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Britain is an old land with a long history spanning several epochs, and the United Kingdom comprises multiple countries. It’s no surprise that a complex country is also home to a complex political system. Understanding British politics can be difficult, but the information is out there and accessible, and it’s well worth taking the time to learn more.