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From Rab to Raab: the construction of the office of first secretary of state

Thornton, Stephen ORCID: and Kirkup, Jonathan ORCID: 2023. From Rab to Raab: the construction of the office of first secretary of state. Parliamentary Affairs 76 (1) , pp. 186-210. 10.1093/pa/gsab038

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Through information gained from interviews with key political actors, archival research and close examination of biographical material, this article aims to provide the first detailed account of what it means to be the British First Secretary of State. Sometimes regarded simply as a synonym for Deputy Prime Minister, it will be demonstrated that the reality is far more complicated. Not all First Secretaries have been regarded as the Prime Minister’s second-in-command, indeed there have been many years where the post has ceased to exist. Yet, at other times, First Secretaries have led the country, albeit briefly. The main argument to be made is that the office of First Secretary of State is only as important as the person holding that office is perceived to be important, but there is potential for that to change.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided theoriginal work is properly cited
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0031-2290
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 June 2021
Date of Acceptance: 14 May 2021
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 08:59

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