7 longest-lasting British parliaments – when will this one end?

Houses of Parliament

Here are the seven longest-lasting parliaments since 1900.

Before the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act came into force, parliaments could be ended by the whims of the prime minister of the day. In that era, the maximum length of time a parliament could last was five years, and before that it was seven, however, there were some exceptions to the rule.

7th – 1945 -1950

At the end of the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s Conservatives lost to Clement Attlee’s radical Labour Party. In government, Labour helped rebuild the country after the War and created the NHS- an institution that stands strong to this day. This parliament lasted for four years, six months and two days.

1946 Chifley, Evatt Dominion Conference

6th – 2010 – 2015

This parliament saw the creation of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act although only one parliament (the one the act was created in) has lasted the full five years so far. During this parliament, the country was run by a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, and lasted four years, ten months and five days.

David Cameron with his wife Samantha Cameron

5th – 2005 – 2010

This parliament included the rise of David Cameron and the Blair-Brown switch, and ultimately ended in victory for the Conservatives at the 2010 election. It also included the global financial crash that resulted in Britain going into recession. The parliament lasted four years, eleven months and five days.

Gordon Brown

4th – 1959 – 1964

Before the election, Prime Minister Anthony Eden was replaced by Harold MacMillan following the former’s disastrous intervention in Suez. MacMillan led his party to its third victory in a row, gaining seats for the Conservatives, and ultimately continuing as prime minister. Five years later, MacMillan’s replacement, Alec Douglas- Home, lost to Labour’s Harold Wilson. The parliament lasted four years eleven months and five days.

Sir Anthony Eden

3rd – 1992 – 1997

In 1992, Major won the most votes ever received for a party at a UK general election. Over the course of the parliament, his majority was whittled away, and Tony Blair ultimately became prime minister following a landslide victory. The parliament lasted four years, eleven months and two days.

Prime Minister Tony Blair Side Angle

2nd – 1911 – 1918

Unsurprisingly, the two parliaments that exceeded standard lengths were war-time parliaments. At the 1910 election Herbert Asquith formed a Liberal government with help from the Irish Parliamentary Party. Then in 1914, war struck, and the parliament was not dissolved until the end of 1918, before which David Lloyd George took over from Asquith. The parliament lasted a long seven years, nine months and twenty-five days.

David Lloyd George Statue

1st – 1935 – 1945

When war struck once again, parliament was extended once more, this time lasting nine years, six months and twenty days. Neville Chamberlain initially led the country, but was replaced by Winston Churchill in 1940.

What about the 2017 - present parliament?

How long will this current parliament last? The government’s slim majority with the DUP puts them in a precarious position. Any by-elections will strike fear into the heart's of the Tory leadership team, as a handful of losses to Labour or the Liberal Democrats could see an end to the government, and thus the parliament.

All lengths of time included in this article are based off this Wikipedia record.