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Current PM. After 47 years of membership, the UK officially leaves the EU under this PM on 31st January 2020. Just a few months later, would face the first major crisis of his premiership, the COVID-19 pandemic. Survived a vote of no confidence from within the party after breaking his government's own COVID-19 rules (Partygate).
Triggering Article 50 in March 2017, she started the process of withdrawing the UK from the EU. Just one month later, seeking to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations she called a snap election. The result of the election was a hung parliament, the number of Conservative seats had fallen from 330 to 317. During her premiership unemployment in the UK fell to record lows. After having draft versions of her EU withdrawal agreement rejected by parliament on three occasions, resigned.
Coalition PM. Headed Britain’s first coalition government since World War II, with the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg as his deputy prime minister. The youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812. During his time as Prime Minister, he would oversee three national referendums. The first in 2011, asked whether the traditional method of electing MPs should be changed. The second in 2014, asked whether Scotland should be an independent country. Cameron campaigned for Scotland to remain part of the UK, which he won. The third concerned Britain’s continuing relationship with the European Union (EU). He led the campaign for the UK to remain in the EU, however in June 2016, the British people voted to leave. Following this defeat, he resigned as prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party.
Was called upon to steer the country through the worldwide financial crisis of 2008. Hosting the G20 Summit in 2009, he persuaded world leaders to make available $1.1 trillion to help the world economy through the crisis. Under his premiership UK combat operations in Iraq came to an end and British forces withdrew from the country.
New Labour PM. Labour’s longest serving Prime Minister, his government oversaw the Northern Ireland peace process. Oversaw the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which ended much of the violence in NI. His legacy on foreign affairs is perhaps a little more controversial, allied with the USA and President Bush, UK armed forces were involved in an invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and an invasion of Iraq in 2003.
National Lottery PM. His premiership would go on to see the UK’s longest period of continuous economic growth. His government started talks with the IRA seeking a peaceful end to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Falklands War PM. The industrial unrest brought about by the ‘Winter of Discontent’ saw this PM become the first female British Prime Minister. Branded the ‘Iron Lady’, her early years in power resulted in only a marginal improvement in the economy. The defining moment of her premiership came in April 1982, when the country went to war with Argentina over the Falklands Islands.
With inflation running at 17% and 1.5 million unemployed, made the controversial decision to ask the IMF for an emergency loan. In return for $3.9 billion of credits, he attempted to impose tighter monetary control through wage restrictions for public sector workers. The unions’ reaction to this was a wave of strikes that saw the dead not buried and rubbish lining the streets of Britain, uncollected. The winter of 1978-9 become known as the ‘Winter of Discontent’.
Wanted to modernise the country aided by the “white heat of the technological revolution”. His government introduced liberalising laws in the fields of capital punishment, abortion, homosexuality and divorce. On the issue of the economy, the powerful trade-union bosses refused to be controlled, resulting in a rise in unemployment and inflation. During his second term in office income tax on top earners increased to 83% and unemployment reached 1 million. By early 1976 Britain’s economic situation was seen in dire, with the country looking for international loan options
Oversaw a period of great industrial upheaval and economic decline, his major ‘achievement’ was leading Britain into the European Common Market. This PM’s attempts to weaken the power of the trade unions failed; the resulting strikes led to the lights going out across country for three days each week. His premiership also coincided with the heights of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister for just 363 days, he holds the record as serving the second shortest premiership of the 20th century.
Emerged from the wreckage of the Suez crisis to lead a demoralised Conservative party and country. Having told the queen that his new government would only last weeks, this PM quickly went on to restore the nation’s confidence and fortunes. As living standards and prosperity increased, ‘Supermac’ was able to claim that the British public had “never had it so good”. In terms of foreign affairs, he helped to negotiate the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and sped up decolonisation of the British Empire. By the end of his term the country’s economy was beginning to falter and after a series of scandals he resigned.
Best know for his controversial handling of the Suez crisis in 1956. Following a badly executed invasion intended to seize control of the Suez Canal in Egypt, there was widespread international condemnation and following a threat of US sanctions, this PM was forced into a humiliating withdrawal. Isolated, this PM resigned having demonstrated to the world that Britain was no longer the superpower it once had been.
Second World War PM. Was appointed as Prime Minister of an all-party coalition government. The speeches he made through his first summer in charge established a policy of ‘no surrender’, and the subsequent military alliances that he formed with both the USA and Soviet Union steered the Allies to victory in World War II. Shortly after VE Day, was surprisingly defeated in a General Election by the below. Second term in office was greatly influenced by his failing health. One contemporary even described him as “gloriously unfit for office”. In matters abroad, the developing Cold War led him to authorise the manufacture of the British hydrogen bomb in 1955, or in this PM's words ‘arming to parley’.
NHS PM. Despite the country effectively bankrupt after the war, he managed the creation of the National Health Service in 1946. His ‘cradle to grave’ philosophy made healthcare free for all British citizens. In addition to this, many of Britain’s largest industries such as coal mining (1946), electricity (1947) and the railways (1947) were brought under state control. In just a few short years he nationalised one fifth of the entire British economy. In 1949 his National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act would open up vast swathes of the British countryside to the general public for the first time.
Peace for our times PM. Following a meeting with Adolf Hitler in Munich 1938, he famously returned declaring “I believe it is peace for our time”. Following the invasion of Poland, declared war on Germany on 3 September, 1939.
1923-1924, 1924-1929, 1935-1937
Just a few months into office and much to the surprise of all around him, called an early general election on the issue of protectionist trade tariffs. The policy was an attempt to resolve Britain’s economic problems, it achieved however, the remarkable feat of reuniting the Liberals and letting Labour into power for the first time. In his second term in office, was responsible for several notable social achievements including extending the right to vote to women aged over 21. He amazed the political world by inviting Winston Churchill, who at that time was a Liberal MP, to be his Chancellor of the Exchequer. He successfully steered the country through the rocky waters of the General Strike of 1926. Returning to office for the third time, his major achievement in this last phase of his career was to steer the country through the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936. Recognising the threat of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, this PM started a programme of re-arming the country. He was later criticised for not doing more to prepare.
First Labour Prime Minister, came from a Scottish working class background. As head of a minority government, he was reliant on the support of the Liberals. Frustrated by his inability to introduce meaningful legislation he called an early election. In his second minority government, appointed the first ever female minister, Margaret Bondfield. Just a few months into his term however, the world was shaken by the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed.
He lasted just 209 days in office before resigning due to ill health and died just 6 months later.
Andrew Bonar Law
End of First World War PM. The only Prime Minister to have spoken Welsh as his first language. Remembered as a man of energy and dynamism, he was widely touted as the man who had won the war and promised… ‘a land fit for heroes’. The Anglo-Irish Treaty led to the establishment of the Irish Free State. The public outcry that followed his ‘cash for honours’ scandal saw him ousted from power.
David Lloyd George
He took charge in troubled times, with Irish Home Rule and Women’s Suffrage the burning issues of the day. The Old Age Pension Act of 1908 laid the foundation of the modern welfare state. This was followed by the National Insurance Act of 1911, that provided an income for working people suffering illness or unemployment. He also led Britain at the start of the First World War.
The first in the top job to be given the official title of ‘Prime Minister’. Outspoken on the violence of the Boer War, he restored independence to the Transvaal and Orange Free State in South Africa.
Henry Campbell- Bannerman
His Education Act of 1902 standardised the educational system of England and Wales, handing powers from school boards to Local Education Authorities (LEAs). His cabinet split on the issue of free trade policies.
1885-1886, 1886-1892, 1895-1902
He reluctantly became Prime Minister and formed a minority government. Tired to control the Irish question’ by a combination of firm government and reform. Rhodesia's (modern day Zimbabwe's) capital named after this PM. Returned to office for the third and final time. During his tenure the Boer War broke out in 1899, ending in 1902. He retired in favour of his nephew.
Marquess of Salisbury
In a short lived administration plagued by Cabinet disputes, he resigned having achieved his life's three ambitions: to marry an heiress, own a Derby winning horse and to be Prime Minister.
Earl of Rosebery
1868-1874, 1880-1885, 1886, 1892-1894
Led the greatest reforming administrations of the 19th century. His policies were intended to improve individual liberty by scrapping barriers to freedom and personal advancement. A heavy defeat at the 1874 general election. His second administration suffered a number of set-backs in foreign policy, including a large defeat in the First Boer War and failing to rescue General Gordon in Sudan. For his third administration, Now well into his 80s, this ‘Grand Old Man’ of British politics was returned to office for a fourth term and once again introduced the Irish Home Rule Bill. Although passed by the House of Commons, the bill was rejected by the Lords. He resigned four times in his career.
Just 10 years after the barriers to Jews entering Parliament had been removed, Britain has its first, and so far only, Jewish Prime Minister. In accepting the post, ‘Dizzy’ is said to have declared, “I have climbed to the top of the greasy pole”. Returning to office for the second time at the age of 70, his policies introduced a large amount of social legislation, including providing housing for the poor and greatly improved sanitation. His relationship with Queen Victoria helped to return her to public life, proclaiming her Empress of India. Anglo-Zulu Wars.
1852, 1858-1859, 1866-1868
Considered by many to be the father of the modern Conservative party, his government collapsed when the budget of his Chancellor, Benjamin Disraeli, was rejected by the house. Returning to office for the second time, his Jews Relief Act of 1858, removed barriers to Jews entering Parliament. Returning to office for the third and final time, his Reform Act of 1867 doubled the number (from 1 to 2 million) of adult males that could vote in England and Wales
Earl of Derby
The last Whig Prime Minister. His Public Health Act of 1848 improved the sanitary conditions of towns and cities. He was in office at the time of The Great Exhibition of 1851.
Lord John Russell
An Irish peer, his India Bill of 1858 transferred control of the East India Company to the Crown. Returning to office for the second time, his ministry was dominated by the American Civil War and the resulting suffering caused by the Lancashire Cotton Famine. He died in office aged 81.
Peelite PM. A cousin of the poet Lord Byron, his government was dominated by a war with Russia. He resigned after losing a vote of confidence into his handling of the Crimean War.
Earl of Aberdeen
Head of a minority government, he resigned following a number of defeats in Parliament. Returning to office for the second time, Peel introduced important employment laws that banned women and children from working underground in mines, in addition The Factory Act of 1844 limited the hours of work for children and women. Unable to feed a starving Ireland, he finally succeeded in repealing the Corn Laws.
The last Prime Minister to be dismissed by a monarch, King William IV. Returning to office for the second time, Melbourne found the new Queen Victoria much more agreeable than William IV. Tutoring the young queen in the ways of politics, they formed a close relationship. He resigned after a series of parliamentary defeats.
The second Irish-born Prime Minister and second veteran general, perhaps more famous as a soldier of the Napoleonic Wars than a politician. Is said to have commented after his first Cabinet meeting: “An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them.” He introduced the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, removing many of the restrictions on Catholics in the UK. Resigned after a vote of no confidence.
Duke of Wellington
Famous for the blend of tea named after him, his political achievements included the Great Reform Act of 1832, which abolished tiny districts, gave representation to cities, gave the vote to small landowners, tenant farmers, shopkeepers, and householders who paid a yearly rental of £10 or more. His other legacies included the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire and restrictions concerning the employment of children. He resigned after disagreements over his Ireland policies.
Lacking support to hold together the frail coalition of Canningite Tories and aristocratic Whigs, he resigned after less than 5 months in office.
To date the shortest serving Prime Minister, died suddenly from pneumonia, barely 5 months after assuming office.
Became known for the harsh rules he put in place to restore order, but he also led the country through the bad period that followed the Napoleonic Wars. Key events during his time as Prime Minister included the Congress of Vienna, the Corn Laws, Catholic emancipation and the Peterloo Massacre.
With economic depression and Luddite agitation at home, and the threat of Napoleon in Europe, his administration was divided and repressive. The only British PM ever to be assassinated, he was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons by a bankrupt man who blamed the government for his misfortune.
As head of a coalition government composed of Lord North’s Tories and Charles James Fox’s opposition Whigs, this PM was instrumental in ensuring Tory party dominance in the decades that followed.
Duke of Portland
During his ministry the Slave Trade Act 1807: abolished -- in theory -- the slave trade in the British Empire. Unable to control the coalition, he resigned the office.
He became the youngest ever Prime Minister, aged just 24. Dedicated to sound government, his many achievements helped define the modern role of the office, including introducing the first income tax. He resigned when the king refused to accept Catholic emancipation. Died in office in his second term aged 46.
William Pitt the Younger
Obtained the Treaty of Amiens. This treaty 1802 temporarily halted the hostilities between the French Republic and Great Britain, the dubious truce ended in May 1803, when Britain again declared war on France.
Britain’s first Irish-born Prime Minister. A former general, he was in office at the time of the Treaty of Paris which officially ended the American War of Independence. The treaty also defined new borders for the United States, including all land from the northern Great Lakes to Florida in the south.
Earl of Shelburne
Bowing to public pressure from disaffected American colonists and British manufacturers, the unenforceable Stamp Act was repealed. He also appeased the public by scrapping Bute’s cider tax.
Marquess of Rockingham
Led Great Britain into the American War of Independence (1775). Although blamed for Britain’s subsequent defeat, many of the military operations were hampered by infighting within the British high command in North America.
Lord Frederick North
His short time in charge mainly involved attempting to restore friendly relations with the American colonies. Better remembered at the time for his public affair with courtesan Nancy Parsons.
Duke of Grafton
Known as the ‘Great Commoner’, credited with creating the British Empire. Although only PM for 2 years, he dominated British politics in the mid-18th century. His military campaigns in Canada, India, the West Indies and West Africa created a trading empire.
William Pitt the Elder
The introduction of the Stamp Act of 1765 imposed a direct tax on the British colonies and plantations in America, one of the sparks that would help ignite the American War of Independence.
A favourite of George III, was the first Scot to hold the top office. Unpopular with the populace. He introduced a tax on cider in order to help pay for the Seven Years’ War. He resigned following fierce criticism of his handling of the peace negotiations.
Earl of Bute
During the Seven Years’ War, he was blamed for the loss of Minorca. In his second term, his government helped steer Britain to ultimate victory over France and Spain during the Seven Years’ War..
Duke of Newcastle
In a government effectively controlled by Pitt the Elder, his administration was brought to end following the dismissal of Pitt by the king.
Duke of Devonshire
Oversaw the the British involvement in the War of the Austrian Succession in 1744-48, the 1745 Jacobite Rising and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar. He died in office.
Suffering poor health for most of his short time as Prime Minister. Died in office.
Earl of Wilmington
Robinocracy PM. PM for longer than anyone who came after him. Restored confidence in the country following South Sea Bubble financial crash of 1720. George II gave this PM 10 Downing Street. Resigned as a consequence of his perceived mishandling of the War of Jenkins’ Ear.