Taking their leave – how do Prime Ministers leave office?

While considering the power of the Prime Minister I jotted down this brief list of Prime Ministerial departures since Neville Chamberlain in 1940. It does offer one perspective on where the power lies. While governments always leave office at the ballot box, Prime Ministers certainly do not, although not all of those who resigned were forced from office, Churchill and Macmillan for example resigned due to ill health. It is striking to compare this with US Presidents in same period, all but three of whom served full terms of office, the exceptions being Franklin Roosevelt who died in office, Kennedy who was assassinated and Nixon who resigned.

Chamberlain (Con) – resigned

Attlee (Lab) – election defeat

Churchill (Con)- resigned

Eden (Con) – resigned

Macmillan (Con) – resigned

Douglas-Home (Con) – election defeat

Wilson (Lab) – election defeat

Heath (Con) – election defeat

Wilson (Lab) – resigned

Callaghan (Lab) – election defeat

Thatcher (Con) – resigned

Major (Con) – election defeat

Blair (Lab) – resigned

Brown (Lab) – election defeat

Resigned/retired – 7      Defeated – 7

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