Leader of the Opposition (United Kingdom)

The Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition, more commonly referred to as the Leader of the Opposition, is the person who leads the Official Opposition in the United Kingdom.

Leader of the Official Opposition
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom
Incumbent
Sir Keir Starmer

since 4 April 2020
Official Opposition
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Leader of the Opposition's Office
StyleLeader of the Opposition
(informal)
The Right Honourable
(formal)
Member of
AppointerLargest political party in the House of Commons that is not in government
Term lengthWhile leader of the largest political party in the House of Commons that is not in government
Inaugural holderThe Lord Grenville
FormationMarch 1807
1 July 1937 (Statutory)
DeputyAngela Rayner
Salary£144,649[1]
(including £79,468 MP salary[2])
WebsiteHer Majesty's Official Opposition: The Shadow Cabinet

By convention, the Leader of the Opposition is the leader of the largest political party in the House of Commons that is not in government. When a single party wins outright, this is the party leader of the second-largest political party in the House of Commons. The current Leader of the Opposition is Sir Keir Starmer, the Leader of the Labour Party. Starmer was elected to that position on 4 April 2020.[3]

The Leader of the Opposition is often viewed as an alternative or shadow prime minister, and is appointed to the Privy Council. They lead an Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet, which scrutinises the actions of the Cabinet and offers alternative policies.

There is also a Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords. This position has been held by Baroness Smith of Basildon since 27 May 2015. In the nineteenth century, party affiliations were generally less fixed and the leaders in the two Houses were often of equal status. A single and clear Leader of the Opposition was only definitively settled if the opposition leader in the House of Commons or House of Lords was the outgoing prime minister. However, since the Parliament Act 1911, there has been no dispute that the leader in the House of Commons is pre-eminent and has always held the primary title.

The Leader of the Opposition is entitled to a salary in addition to their salary as a Member of Parliament. In 2019, this additional entitlement was available up to £65,181.[1]