The Cabinet is the pre-eminent body of government of the United Kingdom.

It is made up of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and all other Secretaries of State, including other Ministers of ‘Cabinet-rank’ such as the Chief Whip, any Minister without Portfolio (normally a party Chairman) or some other key Ministers (such as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and the Commons and Lords business managers (the Leaders of both Houses).

As of February 2023, the following sat in the Cabinet:

Prime Minister – Rishi Sunak MP

Cabinet Office Minister and deputy prime minister – Oliver Dowden MP

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Jeremy Hunt MP

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs – James Cleverly MP

Secretary of State for the Home Department – Suella Braverman QC MP

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Government Chief Whip – Simon Hart MP

Secretary of State for Defence – Grant Shapps MP

Secretary of State for Justice – Alex Chalk MP

Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero – Claire Coutinho MP

Secretary of State for Education – Gillian Keegan MP

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, President of the Board of Trade, and Minister for Women and Equalities – Kemi Badenoch MP

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – Mel Stride MP

Secretary of State for Transport – Mark Harper MP

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Therese Coffey MP

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – Lucy Frazer

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology – Michelle Donelan MP

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland – Chris Heaton-Harris MP

Secretary of State for Scotland – Alister Jack MP

Secretary of State for Scotland – David Davies MP

Chief Secretary to the Treasury – John Glen MP

Lord President of the Council, and Leader of the House of Commons – The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP

Leader of the House of Lords – Lord True

Secretary of State for Levelling Up – Michael Gove MP

Minister without Portfolio (Chairman of the Conservative Party) – Greg Hands MP

Attorney General – Victoria Prentis MP

Paymaster General – Jeremy Quinn MP

Security Minister – Tom Tugendhat MP

Immigration Minister – Robert Jenrick MP

Minister for Veterans – Johnny Mercer MP

Minister for Development – Andrew Mitchell MP

It is the Cabinet’s endorsement of decisions as a whole that forms the instrument of government in the United Kingdom.

The key convention for Cabinet Government is that of ‘collective responsibility.’ This means that all members of the Cabinet must abide by and support its decisions, regardless of their individual view on a specific matter in question. Any member who dissents after a Cabinet decision has been taken, or who refuses to toe the line, would be expected to resign, or at the very least to remain silent on the issue.

Meetings of the full Cabinet are normally held once a week on a Thursday morning, although historically the frequency has varied. The Prime Minister sets the agenda for meetings and chairs proceedings. Members of the Cabinet present papers prepared by their departments to their colleagues for endorsement. The backing of the Cabinet is the strongest endorsement a policy can obtain from government.

Cabinet provides a forum for debate for key government figures, allowing for compromises to be struck, for dissent to be acknowledged and for future policy direction to be considered.

The length and content of Cabinet meetings is often taken as an indication of a Prime Minister’s style of leadership – whether Cabinet is used as a genuine forum for debate, or as a ‘rubber-stamping’ exercise. Prime Ministers will often seek Cabinet approval for their approaches to ensure all Ministers are ‘on-side’.

Minutes of Cabinet meetings are taken.  These are distributed to those in attendance and to top civil servants. Votes are not taken, as all decisions are made unanimously and individual opinions are not recorded. Minutes of Cabinet meetings, and copies of the papers presented, are released publicly after a time delay of 30 years.