5 former Conservative leaders: where are they now?

John Major

Theresa May remains at the top of her party – for now – but what have the parties five living ex-leaders been up to since leaving the post.

1. John Major (1990 – 1997)

In a catastrophic defeat, John Major lost the 1997 election to Tony Blair’s New Labour who were returned with a landslide majority. Unlike Cameron, who left parliament quickly after resigning, Major stayed on as an MP until the next election, stepping aside in 2001, as reported by the BBC.

Since leaving office, he has not been quiet, particularly on the issues of Europe and Northern Ireland, which were key parts of his premiership, just as they are dominating Theresa May’s.

According to Politico, Major has said the Conservative-DUP deal struck after the recent election could risk peace in Northern Ireland.

He has also weighed into the EU debate, saying that there is a case for a second EU referendum, as reported by the Guardian.

2. William Hague (1997 – 2001)

Since stepping down after Tony Blair won a second term in 2001, William Hague remained an active player in Westminster Conservative politics. Under the coalition government, Hague served as Foreign Secretary and then Leader of the House before exiting Westminster all together at the 2015 election.

He is also now Lord Hague of Richmond, having entered the Lords at the end of 2015.

3. Iain Duncan Smith (2001 – 2003)

After a poor performance as leader, IDS faced a vote of no confidence in 2003, which he lost 90-75, as reported by the BBC.

Since then, Smith remains in the House of Commons, having served in both the coalition and Conservative governments as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions before quitting the post in 2016, citing opposition to further disability cuts, according to the Independent.

4. Michael Howard (2003 – 2005)

After replacing IDS as leader – unopposed – Howard led the Conservatives to defeat two years later. He remained in parliament until the 2010 election and later became a Lord like Hague before him.

He has been in the news recently for saying that Theresa May would defend the people of Gibraltar, much like Margaret Thatcher did for the Falklands, according to the Guardian.

5. David Cameron (2005 – 2016)

Having led his party for eleven years, this former leader and prime minister stepped down after the EU referendum last summer. He subsequently left parliament and was recently in the news for calling those who oppose austerity measures as the selfish ones, as reported by the Huffington Post.

He is also busy writing his memoirs, with the BBC reporting that he bought an expensive garden shed especially for the activity.