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Some Perspective, Number of Government defeats in the House of Commons since 1945
Atlee – 4 defeats
Churchill (2nd Gov.) – 1 defeat
Eden – 0 defeats
MacMillan – 0 defeats
Douglas-Home – 0 defeats
Wilson (1st Term) – 6 defeats
Heath – 6 defeats
Wilson (2nd Term) – 25 defeats
Callaghan – 34 defeats
Thatcher – 4 defeats
Major – 6 defeats
Blair (All Terms) – 4 defeats
Brown – 3 defeats
Cameron/Clegg – 6 defeats
Cameron – 3 defeats
May (Pre 2017 GE) – 0 defeats
May (Minority) – 22 defeats
Results of hitting 20 defeats:
Wilson – Resigned within 6 days of his 25th defeat
Callaghan’s government was bought down by the final defeat (a vote of No Confidence)
Thatcher resigned within a year of her last defeat (though not because of it).
Almost a year (in February 1974) after his final defeat in July 1973 Heath called a GE, which although winning the popular vote he had fewer seats, Labour formed a minority government. Heath called the GE to bolster his government, but it seems unlikely this was to do with his house of commons defeat.
What do the numbers suggest?
25 seems to be the minimum number of Government defeats before a collapse. However, we should highlight that no PM has made it past 6 government defeats in the House of Commons without resigning, aside from Theresa May, who is just 3 losses short of Wilson, though 12 short of Callaghan’s 34 defeats.
Whilst there is no requirement on a PM to resign after a defeat or any number of defeats, no government with 7 or more defeats since 1945 has survived as PM.