The Prime Minister, other senior Ministers and various key parliamentary personnel must keep in close contact on a weekly basis if the country’s political system is to run smoothly. The Cabinet is a rather apt name for this group of decision-makers, since they must meet in private, behind closed doors.
Their meeting room is at 10 Downing Street and the most senior civil servant takes the role of Cabinet Secretary. Members of the Cabinet are chosen by the Prime Minister and while they are usually MPs, other people can be selected in order to fill a gap in a policy area. The Prime Minister sometimes conducts a ‘Cabinet re-shuffle’ in which the members may be moved to different Departments, or be replaced altogether.
The main opposition party has a ‘Shadow Cabinet’ consisting of their own MPs, which gives their critical opinion on the policies and decisions of the main Cabinet. In both Cabinets, agreed decisions must always be publicly supported and voted for by the members, even if they do not personally agree with them.
(Image of Cabinet meeting room at 10 Downing Street: U.S. Department of State at Flickr.com)