The shortest serving prime ministers in history while Boris Johnson remains in power

Boris Johnson is narrowly short of becoming one of the shortest-serving post-war Prime Ministers after a no-confidence vote triggered by the Committee in 1922 – but which Prime Ministers occupy the top spots on the list?

Boris Johnson wasn't in Parliament to see the results live
Boris Johnson was not in Parliament to see the results of his no-confidence vote live

Prime Minister Boris Johnson narrowly avoided being sacked from Britain’s top post this week after a no-confidence vote.

The Conservative Party backbench leader collected enough letters – 15% of the party’s MPs – to officially launch the no-confidence vote to overthrow him.

The former Bullingdon Club member won 211 to 148 despite not being backed by 41% of his own MPs.

The rebellion was unexpectedly large, revealing the extent of divisions within his own party.

What happens next for Johnson remains unclear, but he will know that after 1,048 days in what would have been one of the shortest terms in office ever, he is uncomfortably close to ending his tenure as prime minister.

Shortest prime minister in history

George Canning (1770-1827) was the shortest-serving Prime Minister


(Getty Images)

The shortest time anyone has been Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is 119 days, an unfortunate distinction by George Canning, who held the title until his death at the age of 57.

But what about the prime ministers who are a little fresher in memory – the ones who have come since the outbreak of World War II?

6. James Callaghan – 3 years and 29 days

The Labor Prime Minister was elected in 1976 but ousted from the role by the unstoppable power of Margaret Thatcher.

Life wasn’t easy, with record unemployment and high levels of dissatisfaction, he didn’t stand a chance against the coming Iron Lady.

5. Theresa May – 3 years and 11 days

Theresa May is the sixth shortest prime minister since the outbreak of World War II


Peter Macdiarmid/LNP)

The plight of former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May will be fondly remembered by most.

Admitting she was the wrong person to tackle the Brexit deal saga, she made way for Boris Johnson in June 2019.

4. Neville Chamberlain – 2 years 348 days

Neville Chamberlain is perhaps best known as Prime Minister at the time of the outbreak of World War II, and is particularly remembered for waving his note at Hitler promising he would not invade any further in 1938.

Much like Thatcher, he resigned when circumstances in Winston Churchill called for a different character.

3. Gordon Brown – 2 years and 318 days

Only two Prime Ministers have served shorter terms than Gordon Brown in post-war Britain



Gordon Brown is remembered by many, but sadly he never really won an election.

He succeeded Tony Blair only to assume responsibility for the country in the midst of one of the worst economic crises of all time.

He eventually gave way to the coalition government of David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

2. Sir Anthony Eden – 1 year and 279 days

Sir Anthony Eden, a Conservative, saw his job becoming unsustainable because of the Suez Canal Crisis in the 1950s. He officially resigned for health reasons, but rumors circulated that he had misled Parliament about collusion with Israel and France.

1. Sir Alec Douglas-Home – 1 year and 1 day

Sir Alec Douglas-Home left the office over major health concerns. After taking office in 1963, he clashed with the unions as he himself came from an aristocratic background.

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