Publication details

Prime ministerial political leadership and the domestic politics of Brexit : Theresa May and Boris Johnson compared



Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source British Politics
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web article - open access
Keywords Boris Johnson; Theresa May; Prime minister; Political leadership; Domestic politics of Brexit; Heffernan’s power resources model
Description This article explores and compares the political leadership of two successive British Prime Ministers, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, in their handling of the domestic politics of Brexit. Despite some similar dilemmas at the beginning of their premierships, their leadership delivered very different outcomes. The key argument developed here, using Richard Heffernan’s power resources model, is that the explanation for these outcomes does not only arise from a different political context and circumstances under which each prime minister pursued their Brexit policy. Rather Johnson, unlike May, made skilful use of the power resources at his command. He possessed more personal power resources and drew upon the available institutional power resources more effectively than May. As a result, unlike May, he was able to be predominant in his government’s Brexit policy. While we demonstrate the continued analytical value of Heffernan’s model, we also point to its limitations and suggest how it can be revised.
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