How Long Can A Person Be Prime Minister in UK (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 5 Years

The United Kingdom or the UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. There has been a total of 55 Prime Ministers in the UK. The Prime Ministers are elected for a period of 5 years. This can extend when the same person gets elected again in the next election. On the other hand, there are also cases of not fulfilling the term and retiring early. This mainly happens when the person is not well or when he/she dies. Looking at the history of Prime Ministers in the UK, Sir Robert Walpole served for a period of 20 years and 314 days, which is the longest, and George Canning, who served for a period of 119 days.

How Long Can A Person Be Prime Minister in UK


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How Long Does It Take To Be A Prime Minister In UK?

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New Winning Party>1 Day

Time taken to be a Prime Minister in the UK depends on the members of the winning party at the election. If the party of the previous Prime Minister won the election with a majority, the party can keep the same person as the Prime Minister or they can vote among themselves to appoint a new Prime Minister. On the other hand, if a new party won the election with a majority, a new Prime Minister will be appointed from that party. There is a third case, where there is no clear majority. In that situation, the parties try to form a coalition to get a majority, which takes a few days. They take care of the day-to-day government business and tries to elect a Prime Minister among themselves. If no conclusion is reached, then the coalition is disbanded and the Queen is suggested to have another election.

Before the next elections take place, a temporary Prime Minister would be elected for a short time. To be a Prime Minister, a person should have to have experience in politics. Between a newly joined member of the cabinet and an experienced member with a political background, the latter will be preferred to be a Prime Minister over the other. Newly joined members can also be Prime Minister in the UK, but it takes time to be so. They need to know the situation of the nation and gain experience.

Why Does It Take So Long To Be A Prime Minister In UK?

Time is a variable factor in the election of a Prime Minister in the UK. Not every elected Prime Minister needs to take a large amount of time to be one. Serving for consecutive terms takes next to no time to be a Prime Minister as he will be continuing his tenure. When a new Prime Minister is elected, he/she has to do a few formalities before officially becoming the Prime Minister, which takes a bit of time. But when a person forms a new party, to be the Prime Minister, he/she has to prove themselves as to why the people should vote them, take part in the elections, win the elections, and then only he/she can become the Prime Minister, after being appointed by the Queen.

Another reason, for the time factor, being an important matter is that when a coalition Government is formed, the elected Prime Minister can be elected out of the blue. He/she can a new member or even an old member, as more than one party is involved and everyone’s vote is regarded important.


When a new party wins the election and there is no able-bodied person or if there is a situation where who will reside as a new Prime Minister is not clear, the incumbent Prime Minister will not hand over his/her resignation. After appointing the new Prime Minister, the incumbent Prime Minister will hand over his/her resignation to Buckingham Palace. After getting appointed, the new Prime Minister is asked by the Queen to form a Government, which is a formality, and after that, he/she heads to 10 Downing Street. Even amid all the elections, the power to appoint a Prime Minister still resides in the hands of The Queen.



Last Updated : 23 February, 2024

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23 thoughts on “How Long Can A Person Be Prime Minister in UK (And Why)?”

  1. Avatar of Richardson Poppy
    Richardson Poppy

    This article seems to imply that no new Prime Minister in UK can be elected if the previous Prime Minister has not resigned. This is not entirely true, as the opposition party can still form a Government under their party leader even if the current Prime Minister is still in office.

    1. I think it was implied that the process would take more time, but it is true the opposition party can form a government even if the Prime Minister has not resigned.

  2. The election process outlined here is quite complex and indicates the importance of maintaining political stability.

    1. It’s indeed a major responsibility, which points towards the significance of the position of Prime Minister.

  3. Avatar of Ashley Marshall
    Ashley Marshall

    The depiction of the Prime Ministerial election process underlines the nuanced nature of the UK’s political system.

  4. I find it fascinating that the election duration of a Prime Minister can vary so significantly depending on the circumstances.

  5. I find the concept of a coalition Government, highly inefficient, as it can take a considerable amount of time to elect a Prime Minister.

    1. Although it might be inefficient, it is a way in which a more diverse set of opinions can be taken into account.

  6. I believe the process of electing a new Prime Minister after a coalition is disbanded should be streamlined to ensure an efficient transition.

    1. It’s a challenging situation, and it’s essential to have a process for this scenario in order to maintain a balance in the Government.

  7. I find the role of the Queen in the election process of a Prime Minister to be a distinguishing feature of the UK’s political structure.

  8. The power to appoint a Prime Minister residing in the hands of The Queen is an interesting feature of the UK government.

  9. It is interesting that inexperienced members can become Prime Minister, but I believe that it is important to have experience in politics before assuming the position of Prime Minister.

    1. It is a complicated process, and sometimes it might be necessary to appoint a temporary Prime Minister for continuity in governance.

    2. While experience is important, it is also valuable to have a fresh perspective on the nation’s issues.

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