UK Prime Ministers with the Shortest Term Length
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UK Prime Ministers with the Shortest Term Length

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Infographic showing UK prime ministers who had the shortest term

The Briefing

  • Eight Prime Ministers in UK history have had terms shorter than one year
  • In October 2022, Liz Truss became the shortest-serving PM, with just 44 days in the role

UK Prime Ministers with the Shortest Term Length

After six weeks that many have described as “chaotic”, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has resigned. In stepping out of the PM role, Truss is stepping into the history books as the shortest-serving PM in UK history.

While Truss’s term is noteworthy for its briefness, she is not the only politician to have a whirlwind tour of Number 10 Downing Street. Of the 56 people who have held the PM position, eight have served less than a year:

Prime MinisterLength of TermPartyStart of TenureReason for Exit
Liz Truss44 daysConservative2022Resigned
George Canning119 daysTory (Canningite)1827Died
F. J. Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich144 daysTory (Canningite)1827Replaced
Andrew Bonar Law211 daysConservative (Scot. Unionist)1922Illness
W. Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire225 daysWhig1756Replaced
W. Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne266 daysWhig (Chathamite)1782Replaced
J. Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute317 daysTory1762Resigned
Sir Alec Douglas-Home363 daysConservative (Scot. Unionist)1963Election

The next shortest term in the post-war period goes to Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who served just a hair under one year.

Why So Short?

There are a variety of reasons why leaders have served such short terms.

Much like Liz Truss’s situation, PMs like John Stuart, third Earl of Bute, and Augustus Henry Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton, ended up resigning during turbulent political situations.

Others, such as George Canning and Andrew Bonar Law, had their terms cut short after succumbing to illness. (Thankfully, this is less common in the modern era.)

Some leaders were merely keeping the seat warm until a more permanent leader stepped into the role, as was the case with William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire.

A Global Look at Brevity in Office

Of course, short tenures are not unique to the UK. Truss’s departure is drawing comparisons to Kim Campbell and John Turner, who were Canadian PMs for 132 and 72 days, respectively.

In 2007, Kevin Rudd’s second stint as Australia’s PM lasted just 83 days. Australia even has a 7 day term in its history, as Frank Forde served as PM in a caretaker capacity after the death of John Curtin in 1945.

Japan is a country that has notably short tenures in office as well. Over the past three decades, the average length of a Japanese prime minister’s tenure has been under two years.

Where does this data come from?

Source: UK.gov, via Wikipedia

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Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Using data from the UN, this chart shows civilian death toll figures resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Ukraine war death toll

The Briefing

  • In total, since the war began in February there have been over 7,031 Ukrainian civilian deaths
  • Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons, such as missiles and heavy artillery

Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has wrought suffering and death on a mass scale, with many Russian attacks targeted at civilians.

We’ve created this visual using data from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to better understand how many civilians have died in Ukraine as a result of the war, as well as how many were injured and how many were children.

The Numbers

As of early December, it is reported that 7,031 people in Ukraine have died because of the war — 433 of them children. Another 11,327 have been injured, 827 of which are children. In total, this is over 18,000 people killed or injured.

The figures are difficult to verify due to differing reports coming out of both Russia and Ukraine. The UN OHCHR anticipates that the numbers could be even higher.

The State of the Conflict

The war began on February 24th, 2022 and less than a year in, millions of people have been displaced by the conflict, and thousands of civilians have been injured or killed.

According to the UN, most of the civilian deaths have been caused by wide-ranging explosives such as heavy artillery shelling, missiles, and air strikes, and have been concentrated in Donetsk and Luhansk and in other territory still held by Ukraine.

Additionally, new estimates from Kyiv report approximately 13,000 Ukrainian military or soldier deaths, which has yet to be confirmed by the army.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights monthly reports on civilian deaths in Ukraine.

Note: Data on deaths and injuries can vary wildly depending on the source.

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