Who is the shortest serving prime minister?


IN the world of politics nothing is certain – including a prime ministers time in office.

But who currently holds the record as the shortest-serving UK prime minister and who remained in office the longest?

Liz Truss is the current UK prime minister

Who is the shortest serving prime minister?

In July 2022, Boris Johnson’s resignation put him among the top five shortest serving prime ministers in the post-war period.

And as Liz Truss faces pressure from her own party to step down, she too could make history as the shortest serving UK prime minister, if she resigns.

If this happens, Ms Truss will take George Canning’s place as the shortest serving prime minister in history.

George Canning remained in power for just 119 days in 1827, before passing away at the age of 57.

Here’s who joins George Canning and Boris Johnson on the list of the shortest serving prime ministers.

Alec Douglas-Home (363 days)

Alec-Douglas Home is considered the shortest serving prime minister post-war

Sir Alec Douglas-Home only served as Prime Minister for 363 days in October 1963 – 16 October 1964 and is therefore considered to be the shortest serving prime minister post-war.

During his time in office, he oversaw the abolition of resale price maintenance and took a tough stance in dealing with the trade unions.

He resigned in October 1964 – some Conservative MPs blamed press criticism for the leader’s sudden departure.

Anthony Eden (1 year and 279 days)

Sir Anthony Eden is best known for his controversial handling of the Suez crisis in 1956

Sir Anthony Eden was elected prime minister in 1955.

He is best known for his controversial handling of the Suez crisis in 1956, during his second year as prime minister.

And it was his handling of this crisis that ultimately proved to be his downfall.

After just under two years in office, Sir Anthony Eden was forced to step down as prime minister in 1957.

Gordon Brown (2 years and 319 days)

Gordon Brown resigned in 2010

Gordan Brown was Britain’s longest-serving modern Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the same cannot be said for his time as prime minister.

Gordon Brown became Prime Minister on 27 June 2007 after Tony Blair left office.

During his time in office, he oversaw the devolution of powers in Northern Ireland, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and the world’s first ever Climate Change Act.

He resigned in 2010.

The decision came after Mr Brown was defeated in the 2010 election by Conservative David Cameron.

Boris Johnson (2 years and 362 days)

Boris Johnson was prime minister from 2019 to 2022

Boris Johnson was Prime Minister from July 24, 2019, to September 6, 2022 – without an election, but not without controversy.

Within just four months as PM, he had secured seats in parts of the country that had never voted Conservative before. 

However, his downfall came after a series of scandals and cabinet resignations.

He resigned after two-years and 362 days as prime minister.

However, he continued to serve as Prime Minister, during the summer of 2022 while the Conservatives party ran a leadership contest to find his successor.

Liz Truss was then elected the next UK prime minister.

Theresa May (3 years and 12 days)

Theresa May took over from David Cameron in 2016, following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Her premiership was largely focused around by the fallout from the vote.

She resigned in 2019, having failed to win the support of MPs for her deal to take the UK out.

Who is the longest serving prime minister?

On the other hand, some prime ministers have spent decades serving the country.

Robert Walpole holds the record for the longest serving prime minister, spending 20 years and 314 days in office.

Others include:

  • William Pitt the Younger: (18 years and 343 days)
  • Robert Banks Jenkinson, Earl of Liverpool: (14 years and 305 days)
  • Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Marquess of Salisbury: (13 years and 252 days)
  • William Ewart Gladstone: (12 years and 126 days)
  • Frederick North (12 years and 58 days)

Magret Thatcher is also on the list of the longest serving prime ministers, having spent 11 years and 209 days in office.

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