Boris Johnson: The unwanted records broken under his premiership this week

A historic week in British politics ends in the prime minister's resignation, as ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry reports

By Digital Producer Narbeh Minassian

Months of turbulence marred by a series of scandals around Downing Street came to a head on Thursday with the prime minister announcing his impending resignation.

Boris Johnson finally bowed to growing pressure from within Conservative ranks and confirmed he will step down as leader of the party once a successor has been elected.

His resignation didn't come easy - dozens went before he took to the podium outside No. 10 - in what capped off an unprecedented week of politics in Westminster.

Here's a look at some of the unwanted records broken over the most tumultuous 48 hours of Mr Johnson's premiership.

More resignations than ever before

The dramatic rate of resignations - 55 within 48 hours - outstripped anything ever seen before in previous governments.

Until this week, the most resignations a prime minister has faced from within their team in a single day was four.

On Wednesday alone, 30 people resigned from Mr Johnson's government.

In total, more than 50 resigned between Tuesday evening and Thursday morning.

Professor of Politics at Liverpool University, Jon Tonge, told ITV News "we are talking about records not just being broken, but smashed."

"This has completely reset the record book in terms of the downfall of a prime minister," he said.

"Normally you have the prime minister quitting the government, not the government quitting the prime minister.

"There's been nothing like it before in terms of the volume of resignations. The norm for triggering a prime minister's resignation is two in a day - there have never been more than four resignations in one day."

How short was Boris Johnson's time as prime minister?

Far shorter than he would have liked or expected, but still comfortably longer than the briefest spells in Downing Street.

Boris Johnson after reading out his statement formally resigning as Tory party leader. Credit: PA

Andrew Bonar Law left his post after just 211 days in 1923, making him the shortest-lived prime minister, while Alec Douglas Home lasted one day shy of a full year.

Mr Johnson has clocked up 1,079 days of his premiership so far, meaning he stays well clear of that particular record, but his time remains less than that of Theresa May.

If the old Etonian lasts another four weeks, he will pass the 1,106 days in the job Mrs May managed between 2016 and 2019.

On Thursday, the day he announced he will step down, he overtook the 1,078 days clocked up by Neville Chamberlain, who was Conservative prime minister between 1937 and 1940.

(PA Graphics)

But as Professor Tonge explains, the rapid fall from securing a huge majority to announcing resignation in three years is not like anything Westminster has witnessed.

"I can’t think of a prime minister who had a majority of more than 80 and gone so quickly after," he said.

"Anthony Eden went in 50s and he had a big majority [60] after 1955.

"Margaret Thatcher was forced out with a majority of 102 in November 1990, but she was deep into that term."

How short-lived were his minsters?

The standout resignation here was Michelle Donelan, who was made Education Secretary on Tuesday night.

She quit on Thursday morning.

Michelle Donelan was Education Secretary for little more than a day. Credit: PA

"The average tenure of a minister is two years and two months," Professor Tonge said.

The shortest spells tend to happen when an appointment is made prior to a general election, which then forces a change in government.

Ms Donelan's stint is easily the shortest run as a senior minister, Professor Tonge said.

Michael Gove takes the record for sackings

On Wednesday, Michael Gove, who was Secretary of State for Levelling Up, got sacked by Mr Johnson hours after reportedly being part of a group who told the prime minister he should stand down.

Mr Gove has been here before. He was sacked by both Theresa May and David Cameron, meaning Wednesday marked his third dismissal from the prime minister's team.

Nobody has been sacked as many times as Mr Gove.

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