Government and Opposition roles
Government ministers and Opposition spokespersons all work in the House of Commons. Specific Peers also represent government departments and opposition parties in the House of Lords.
The Prime Minister is an MP and head of the government. The leader of the party that wins the most seats in a general election is appointed Prime Minister by the Queen.
The Prime Minister is officially responsible for choosing the other members of the government.
The Prime Minister used to be able to set the date for the next General Election. Since the passing of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 this is no longer the case.
The Prime Minister answers questions every Wednesday in the House of Commons from midday to 12.30pm. Questions can come from any MP and on any subject.
Leader of the Opposition
The leader of the largest opposition party is the Leader of the Official Opposition. This role commands an additional salary to the parliamentary salary received as an MP. The Leader of the Official Opposition picks a 'Shadow Cabinet' to follow the work of government departments.
The Cabinet consists of a maximum of twenty-two paid government ministers chosen by the Prime Minister. They can be Members of either House of Parliament. The Cabinet develop government policies and some members head government departments.
The Shadow Cabinet consists of members from the main opposition party in the House of Commons and Lords, currently the Labour party. Its role is to examine the work of each government department and develop policies in their specific areas.