7 longest-serving chancellors of the exchequer since 1945

Gordon Brown At WEF

The seven longest-serving peacetime chancellors since 1945. Who makes the list?

7. Ken Clarke (May 1993 – May 1997)

Now Father of the House, Ken Clarke was the second chancellor to serve in the Major government as he replaced Nigel Lawson. He stopped being chancellor in 1997 when Gordon Brown took the job after Tony Blair’s landslide that year.

6. Sir Geoffrey Howe (May 1979 – June 1983)

Howe was the first of three chancellors to serve under Margaret Thatcher. He was followed by Nigel Lawson who made it onto this list, and then John Major. Following Thatcher’s second victory in 1983, Howe was made foreign secretary instead.

House of Commons Chamber: Speaker's table

5. Rab Butler (October 1951 – December 1955)

In 1951, Labour tried to increase the puny majority it had won in 1950. The attempt ultimately failed and Winston Churchill’s Conservatives were returned to power. Butler was appointed chancellor of the exchequer under Churchill, lasting until 1955. He later served in a variety of positions in the following Conservative governments, including foreign secretary.

4. Dennis Healey (March 1974 – May 1979)

This Labour giant served as chancellor under Harold Wilson’s second non-consecutive time in power. When Wilson stepped down, Healey remained as chancellor under his successor, James Callaghan. He remained chancellor until Labour were booted out of power by Margaret Thatcher in 1979.

It would be another eighteen years before there would be another Labour chancellor.

3. George Osborne (May 2010 – June 2016)

George Osborne 0482am

David Cameron’s spell as prime minister was not a historically lengthy one by anyone’s standards. However, Osborne served as his chancellor for the entire six years of the Cameron premiership, a length of service that dwarfs that of many other chancellors.

2 Nigel Lawson (June 1983 – October 1989)

Lawson was a key figure in the Thatcher government, having served from June 1983 right up until October 1989. Lawson resigned as chancellor due to a disagreement with the prime minister over her adviser, Sir Alan Walters, according to the Guardian.

1 Gordon Brown (1997 – 2007)

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown takes the best spot on this list, serving as chancellor of the exchequer for an impressive decade under Tony Blair. He only stepped down from the role in 2007 when he took over as prime minister. Following this, he appointed Alastair Darling as his replacement.

So what?

The term lengths of chancellors of the exchequer has certainly been getting longer over time. Just compare the ten years Gordon Brown served to the fact that six different men served as chancellor between October 1951 and October 1964. That’s six chancellors in thirteen years!

It’s also worth noting that just one of these seven went on to serve as prime minister, Gordon Brown.


Dates from this list are based off figures on found on this Wikipedia page.