Rishi Sunak was voted in as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party by Tory MPs last month, and becomes the 17th person to take office since World War II. Each has served to varying degrees of success, with their own specific issues at hand. But who do you think was the best? Vote in our poll.
Clement Attlee was Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951, forming a Labour government after winning a general election and ousting Sir Winston Churchill months before the end of WWII. His premiership marked a transitional period out of the war, working to rebuild the economy and establish Britain as a peaceful nation.
In 1951, however, Sir Churchill was re-elected and returned to Downing Street for a second time. His leadership this time round was less decisive compared to during the war, but he resigned in 1955 due to increasing health issues.
Sir Churchill’s Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden took over, but his 18-month premiership was overshadowed by his controversial handling of the Suez crisis in 1956.
Harold MacMillan then served from 1957 to 1963 and helped to restore the Conservative Party’s reputation after the Suez crisis. But his decision to apply for membership in the European Economic Community (ECC) split opinions.
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Sir Alec Douglas-Home succeed Mr MacMillan, when he was forced to resign due to health problems, but was elected informally and served for just 363 days. He lost the 1964 general election to Labour leader Harold Wilson by a narrow margin.
Mr Wilson was a driving force behind societal reforms including education, health, housing, pensions and gender equality. He served from 1964 to 1970, and from 1974 to 1976. Sir Edward Heath became Conservative Prime Minister between Mr Wilson’s terms and led the way for Britain to join the EEC following a period of economic decline.
Later, Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan served from 1976 to 1979 and worked to resolve the nation’s deepening economic recession by introducing deflationary policies and cuts in public expenditure.
Britain elected its first female Prime Minister in 1979 in Margaret Thatcher, who faced industrial and economic chaos during her premiership. Known as “The Iron Lady”, Mrs Thatcher worked to transform Britain and was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century, leaving office in 1990.
Sir John Major continued the Conservative’s lead for seven years. He set out the British Government’s position in Iraq, launched the Northern Ireland Peace Process and negotiated the Maastricht Treaty, choosing to reject the Euro.
Then came along Tony Blair, who ended Labour’s loss of four consecutive general elections and aimed to modernise politics, establishing devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales, reforming the House of Lords and creating the Human Rights Act and a Freedom of Information Act. He also signed the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 to ensure peace in Northern Ireland.
He resigned in 2007 and was succeeded by his Chancellor Gordon Brown, who oversaw the devolution of powers in Northern Ireland and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He was also involved in the world’s first-ever Climate Change Act and saw the country through the global financial crisis in 2008.
But his efforts were not enough, and in the 2010 general election, Labour lost its majority to the Conservatives forming a coalition government with the Liberal democrats. Prime Minister David Cameron led the nation through the aftermath of the recession and introduced a series of economic and social policies to reduce the budget deficit and stimulate growth, also overseeing both the Scottish independence and Brexit referendums.
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Following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016, Mr Cameron resigned and was replaced by Theresa May. Mrs May was forced to form a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) after calling a snap election to strengthen her position. She worked to negotiate a Brexit exit deal but her draft withdrawal agreement was rejected by Parliament three times, which resulted in her resignation.
Boris Johnson succeeded her in 2019 and reopened the Brexit negotiations, introducing the Northern Ireland Protocol which triggered a snap election, which saw the Tories win a landslide victory. He led the nation through the pandemic and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but a series of resignations within his cabinet in July this year led to his position becoming untenable.
A Tory leadership contest over the summer resulted in Liz Truss being chosen as the next Prime Minister but a series of U-turns led to her resignation and her premiership ending after just seven weeks. Enter Mr Sunak, who has promised Britons grappling with the cost of living crisis a “new age of optimism” as he took office.
But what do YOU think? Who was Britain’s best Prime Minister since WW2? Vote in our poll and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.