How many UK Prime Ministers have resigned?

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Boris Johnson’s resignation came after several scandals, including Partygate and an attempted cover-up following sexual misconduct allegations against Chris Pincher

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With his half-term resignation, Mr Johnson joins a list of several other prime ministers who have been forced out of office outside of a general election defeat.

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Mazic News has compiled a brief history of the five other British Prime Ministers since 1979 who have suffered the same fate.

Boris Johnson is the sixth prime minister since 1979 to be booted out of office outside of an election (Image: Getty Images)

Teresa May

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Despite a strong start as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s predecessor was weakened after a disastrous 2017 election campaign resulted in a hanging parliament.

With a minority government bolstered by the support of Northern Ireland’s DUP, she has repeatedly failed to get the Brexit deal she negotiated through the House of Commons.

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This was because there was no clear majority among MPs on whether the UK should remain in the EU, remain in some parts of the bloc but leave others, go with May’s negotiated deal or opt for a ‘hard’ Brexit should separate completely.

Theresa May resigned after her failed attempts to get Brexit over the line (Picture: Getty Images)

While this affected her authority, the final blow came when she tried to break the impasse with a Brexit bill in May 2019 that called for a second referendum.

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Brexit supporters in the Conservative backbench were furious with the legislation, with members of her cabinet publicly rejecting it, while her 2016 rival Andrea Leadsom left the cabinet.

In an emotional speech in May 2019, Ms May announced her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party.

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She continued to serve as a PM in a janitorial role until July 24, 2019.

DavidCameron

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David Cameron had just won the majority in the 2015 general election after years of coalition government.

Concerned about the rise of Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party – a Eurosceptic political party to which two Tory MPs defected in 2014 – Mr Cameron pledged ahead of the election to hold a referendum on UK membership if the Tories accept one would win a majority.

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In the vote in February 2016, he gave the go-ahead, the referendum is to take place on June 23.

The EU referendum became a referendum on David Cameron’s leadership (Image: Getty Images)

The campaign between the Leave and Remain groups quickly became a bitter squabble and by the time of the vote had in part become a referendum on David Cameron’s leadership.

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That meant Cameron felt compelled to resign the day after Vote Leave won.

However, he remained in office in an executive capacity until July 13, 2016, when Theresa May assumed leadership of the Conservative Party.

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Tony Blair

The Labor leader’s time as Prime Minister started off brightly, but his popularity waned as his premiership drifted deeper into the noughties, particularly in the wake of the Iraq war.

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By 2007, his relationship with his chancellor and onetime key ally, Gordon Brown, had completely deteriorated.

The source of tensions between the couple was a long-term unofficial pact dating back to the 1990s.

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In 1994, Brown had agreed to stand down in the Labor leadership election so Blair could win.

In exchange, Blair pledged to step down as prime minister and hand over the reins to Brown if he makes it to a second term as prime minister.

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However, it was not until June 27, 2007 that Blair resigned, despite winning a third term in 2005.

John Major

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While John Major never stood down as prime minister – he served from 1990 until the 1997 general election – he resigned as leader of the Conservative Party in 1995.

His resignation was triggered by a feverish mood in his party, particularly on the European Union issue.

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John Redwood challenged John Major in a Conservative Party leadership contest in 1995 (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

In an attempt to heal divisions among his Tory MPs, Mr Major sparked a leadership contest which he later easily won against leading Eurosceptic John Redwood.

However, the 1997 election proved disastrous for the Conservatives and they did not return to power until 2010.

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Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher’s tenure was very controversial, but she enjoyed solid support from her Conservative MPs for much of her time as Prime Minister.

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Things collapsed for Britain’s longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century when her longtime ally and deputy in the Cabinet, Geoffrey Howe, resigned in November 1990.

He cited the unpopular poll tax – and Mrs Thatcher’s opposition to further European integration – as reasons why he quit prime ministerial questions during a hectic session.

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Those views were shared by increasingly restive backbenchers.

Margaret Thatcher left Downing Street in November 1990 to make way for John Major (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Weakened by Howe’s departure, she faced a leadership contest against Michael Heseltine days later.

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While she won by 204 votes to 152, the majority was not enough for Mrs Thatcher to win outright under Conservative Party rules at the time and she was set to face Heseltine again in a second round.

Although she initially said she would contest the second ballot, she backed out after realizing she did not have the full support of her cabinet.

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She resigned in tears just days later and handed 10 Downing Street over to John Major on 28 November.

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