Has the Prime Minister ever resigned? All the cases from the 21st century

The Prime Minister is coming under enormous pressure to shoulder the responsibility for his participation at a party in Downing Street. If he were to resign, he’d be joining a long list of British political leaders who have fallen on their sword

Boris Johnson is being called on to resign, but is yet to do so
Boris Johnson is being called on to resign

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under enormous pressure to resign following his admission that he had spent 25 minutes at a garden party at Downing Street, during the first lockdown, in May, 2020.

He is also under threat of falling to a vote of no confidence if his party backbenchers trigger one. This, in turn, could see the beginning of a whole Tory leadership election.

Scandals surrounding the breach of Covid regulation have already seen high-profile members of Johnson’s entourage leaving their roles.

Then Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, resigned in June, 2021, after he was found to have broken social distancing laws when he kissed his aide. At the time, Johnson said he was “sorry” to receive the resignation.

In December, 2021, Johnson’s aide, Allegra Stratton, also resigned after footage emerged of her laughing when preparing a response for the media about an alleged Christmas party.

On both occasions, the Prime Minister accepted their resignations but has not yet done so when it has been asked of him.

Do Prime Ministers resign often?

Theresa May resigned in 2019



The short answer, recently, is yes.

In fact, all three of Johnson’s most immediate predecessors, who were elected in the 21st century, have left their posts at the head of government through resignation. Read on to find out why they did.

Theresa May

Johnson’s direct predecessor, Theresa May, announced her resignation on May 24, 2019, following repeated attempts to get her Brexit withdrawal deal passed through parliament.

She had met stiff resistance from MPs time and time again as she attempted to get her plans through. Eventually, she admitted defeat and stood down, her deal having been defeated three times.

At the time, she said: “It is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort.”

David Cameron

David Cameron (right) resigned in 2016


Getty Images)

Another victim of Brexit, David Cameron resigned on June 24, 2016, only hours after the UK decided to leave the EU.

Cameron had fought his election on the promise of the vote but personally campaigned in favour of remaining in the union.

However, within hours of the 52% majority vote in favour of leaving, he tendered his resignation and would be gone by the end of October that year.

Due to his personal preference for remaining in the EU, he said: “I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown resigned in 2010


Getty Images)

Gordon Brown fought in the May 6, 2010, general election, however, the close race resulted in a hung parliament.

By May 10, 2010, Brown announced he would be standing down as leader of the Labour party. He tendered his resignation to the Queen and, in doing so, encouraged her to ask David Cameron to form a government.

At the time, he said it had been “a privilege” and wished his successor well.

He said: “Above all, it was a privilege to serve and, yes, I love the job, not for its prestige, its titles and ceremony, which I do not love at all.

“No, I loved the job for its potential to make this country I love fairer, more tolerant, more green, more democratic, more prosperous and more just – truly a greater Britain.”

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