With many stuck at home, there’s a great deal of time for asking questions. So, has a prime minister ever died in office in the UK?

Just weeks ago, the UK entered lockdown and life has felt slightly surreal ever since. When it was first announced, Boris Johnson informed the public to adhere to government guidelines, only leaving the house for essential work if it cannot be done at home and shopping for essentials as infrequently as possible. Addressing exercise, it’s advised to go out just once a day if necessary, either alone or with members of your household.

Considering some have decided to flout the imposed restrictions, we suspect they’ll be revised soon and become stricter to help prevent COVID-19 from reaching unaffected households. 

Although some news stories have highlighted public ignorance, it’s worth acknowledging that most of us are united in our universal goal to get through this with as few casualties as possible. 

Staying home reduces the colossal strain on the NHS and helps save lives, and with more information coming in, it’s imperative that we remain disciplined during this pivotal stage. 

A recent update has enlightened some to the severity of the situation and has encouraged them to address a certain question…

Has a prime minister ever died in office in the UK?

  •  Yes, seven prime ministers have died in office in the UK. 

Listed below are the seven who died in office, along with the year of death:

  • Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington (1743)
  • Henry Pelham (1754)
  • Charles Watson-Wentworth, Marquess of Rockingham (1782)
  • William Pitt the Younger (1806)
  • Spencer Perceval (1812)
  • George Canning (1827)
  • Henry Temple, Viscount Palmerston (1865)

Although the recurring cause of death is illness, Spencer Perceval was actually assassinated. He was shot by John Bellingham while entering the lobby of the House of Commons. 

It’s not totally alien for a PM to resign due to ill health, on the other hand. Former Prime Minister Anthony Eden resigned on grounds of ill health on January 9th, 1957. His doctors informed him that his life would be at stake if he continued. 

Spencer Perceval (1762-1812) British Prime Minister from 1809. He was assassinated by Joseph Bellingham at the doors of the lobby of the House of Commons on 11 May 1812.

Boris Johnson in intensive care

Recently, news reports noted that Boris Johnson is in intensive care after testing positive for COVID-19 and displaying symptoms. 

Sky News reported that Michael Gove said that the PM “has not been on a ventilator” but has received “oxygen support”. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also added that the PM is “under close supervision” and that “… by being in intensive care if there is further support he needs it is there at hand.”

The source highlights that he was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday, April 5th in the evening, but his health worsened on Monday; he has been suffering from breathing difficulties. 

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