Recent British prime ministers
Rishi Sunak is set to become the UK's third prime minister in two months. He follows Liz Truss, who stepped down just six weeks after she was appointed.
Rishi Sunak is set to become the next prime minister, promising to unite the Conservative Party in the wake of Liz Truss' policy failures. The 42-year-old will be the country's youngest prime minister in more than a century and the first nonwhite leader. He faces multiple economic and political crises, with an economically toxic combination of recession and rising interest rates.
Liz Truss (2022)
Liz Truss announced her resignation as prime minister after just 45 days in office, a new record. The outgoing head of government said her premiership began "at a time of great economic and international instability," referring to soaring inflation, a global energy crisis and the war in Ukraine.
Boris Johnson (2019-2022)
Boris Johnson announced his resignation in July. His premiership was toppled following a number of scandals and the resignation of 50 lawmakers from within his own party. Johnson's government oversaw the UK's withdrawal from the European Union in 2020.
Theresa May (2016-2019)
Theresa May replaced David Cameron following the 2016 Brexit referendum and began negotiating the withdrawal from the EU. She resigned after lawmakers rejected three separate withdrawal bills she had put to Parliament, with hard-line Brexit supporters in her own party arguing it gave too many concessions to Brussels.
David Cameron (2010-2016)
David Cameron brought the Conservatives back to power in 2010, first in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Cameron's party won a slim majority in its own right in 2015 — but with that came pressure to follow up on his promise to hold an "in-out" referendum on EU membership. Cameron ultimately campaigned for the "remain" side and resigned the day after the vote, when roughly 52% backed "leave."
Gordon Brown (2007-2010)
Gordon Brown is a rare breed in British politics, a prime minister who left office as the result of an election defeat, not resignation or insurrection within his own party. Brown took over after Tony Blair's resignation in 2007 in the wake of the Iraq war, and with the financial crash about to hit. He lost power in the 2010 election, ending a 13-year period of Labour government in Britain.
Tony Blair (1997-2007)
Tony Blair won three elections and is the only Labour Party politician who can claim to have won in almost half a century. Running on a more centrist platform he dubbed "New Labour," Blair won a landslide in 1997 and saw his support gradually wane during a decade in power. The war in Iraq had arguably the biggest negative impact on his support and legacy.
John Major (1990-1997)
John Major took office as prime minister following the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, who had been in power for nearly 12 years. His government had to grapple with a major economic crisis and rebellions by anti-EU lawmakers from within the Conservative Party.
Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990)
All three female British prime ministers hailed from the Conservative Party, although neither Theresa May nor Liz Truss could claim the longevity and electoral success of the first, Margaret Thatcher. Truss modeled herself on Thatcher quite consciously before becoming prime minister, posing in similar situations and wearing similar clothing to the prime minister of her youth.