First Secretary of State
Dominic Raab

since 24 July 2019
Government of the United Kingdom
Office of the Prime Minister
StyleThe Right Honourable
First Secretary of State (informal)
Member of
Reports toThe Prime Minister
ResidenceNone, may use Grace and favour residences
SeatWestminster, London
NominatorThe Prime Minister
AppointerThe British Monarch
on the advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthNo fixed term
Inaugural holderRab Butler
Formation13 July 1962
Salary£153,022 (annual, including £81,932 MP's salary)[1]
WebsiteOfficial website

First Secretary of State is an office sometimes given to a cabinet minister in the Government of the United Kingdom. The office indicates seniority,[2] including over all other Secretaries of State[3] and can be seen as a sort-of alternative office to Deputy Prime Minister.

The office is not always in use, so there have sometimes been extended gaps between successive holders. Boris Johnson appointed the incumbent Dominic Raab to the office on 24 July 2019.[4]

Constitutional position

The First Secretary enjoys no right to automatic succession to the office of Prime Minister. However, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to an Intensive Care Unit on 6 April 2020 after contracting COVID-19, First Secretary Dominic Raab was asked "to deputise for him where necessary."[5]

The office temporarily enjoyed some greater constitutional footing between when it was incorporated as a corporate sole in 2002[6] and having all of its remaining functions transferred in 2008.[7] During most of this time, John Prescott was the First Secretary.


In 1962, R. A. Butler was the first person to be appointed to the office, in part to avoid earlier royal objections to the office of Deputy Prime Minister.[8] The office gave him ministerial superiority over the rest of the Cabinet.[9]

Later, Michael Heseltine and John Prescott held the office alongside being Deputy Prime Minister.[10] The two offices have only existed concurrently with different holders in David Cameron's coalition government, wherein Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, while William Hague was First Secretary.[10]


The office is currently, as of 14 January 2021, listed as bringing no additional responsibilities on the website.[11]

List of First Secretaries of State

First Secretary of State
Portrait Name
Term of office Other ministerial offices Party Ministry Ref.
R. A. Butler[12]
MP for Saffron Walden
13 July
18 October
Conservative Macmillan II [13]
Office not in use 1963–1964
George Brown
MP for Belper
16 October
11 August
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
Michael Stewart
MP for Fulham
11 August
6 April
Labour [13]
Barbara Castle
MP for Blackburn
6 April
19 June
Labour [13]
Office not in use 1970–1995
Michael Heseltine
MP for Henley
(born 1933)
20 July
2 May
Conservative Major II [14]
Office not in use 1997–2001
John Prescott
MP for Kingston upon Hull East
(born 1938)
8 June
27 June
Labour Blair II [15]
Blair III
Office not in use 2007–2009
Peter Mandelson
Baron Mandelson

(born 1953)
5 June
11 May
Labour Brown
William Hague
MP for Richmond (Yorks)
(born 1961)
12 May
8 May
Conservative Cameron–Clegg
George Osborne
MP for Tatton
(born 1971)
8 May
13 July
Conservative Cameron II [17]
Office not in use 2016–2017
Damian Green
MP for Ashford
(born 1956)
11 June
20 December
Conservative May II [18][19]
Office not in use 2017–2019
Dominic Raab
MP for Esher and Walton
(born 1974)
24 July
Incumbent Conservative Johnson
(I & II)


Dominic RaabDamian GreenGeorge OsborneWilliam HaguePeter MandelsonJohn PrescottMichael HeseltineBarbara CastleMichael StewartGeorge BrownRab Butler

See also


  1. ^ Served as Secretary of State for Economic Affairs until August 1967
  2. ^ Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from March 1968
  3. ^ Deputy Prime Minister from May 1997
  4. ^ Served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs until July 2014
  5. ^ Served as Leader of the House of Commons from July 2014
  6. ^ Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs until September 2020
  7. ^ Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs from September 2020


  1. ^
  2. ^ The Cabinet Manual. 2010. p. 22.
  3. ^ Nicholas Watt (8 May 2015). "George Osborne made first secretary of state in cabinet reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Dominic Raab appointed UK foreign secretary, first secretary of state: statement". Reuters. London. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  5. ^ "Statement from Downing Street: 6 April 2020". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2020-08-12.
  6. ^ The Transfer of Functions (Transport, Local Government and the Regions) Order 2002 Article 3(1).
  7. ^ The Transfer of Functions (Miscellaneous) Order 2008 Article 7.
  8. ^ Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a prime minister : the transfer of power in Britain (First ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom. pp. 74–5. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4. OCLC 1182632161.
  9. ^ Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a prime minister : the transfer of power in Britain (First ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4. OCLC 1182632161.
  10. ^ a b Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a prime minister : the transfer of power in Britain (First ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4. OCLC 1182632161.
  11. ^ "First Secretary of State - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  12. ^ Howard, Anthony (February 7, 2013). RAB: The Life of R.A. Butler. A&C Black. ISBN 9781448210824.
  13. ^ a b c d David Butler and Gareth Butler, British Political Facts 1900–1994 (7th edn, Macmillan 1994) 62.
  14. ^ "Lord Heseltine". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Lord Prescott". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Lord Hague of Richmond". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  17. ^ "Rt Hon George Osborne". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Rt Hon Damian Green MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  19. ^ Stewart, Heather. "Damian Green sacked as first secretary of state after porn allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  20. ^