First Major ministry
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|First Major ministry|
|Date formed||28 November 1990|
|Date dissolved||9 April 1992|
|People and organisations|
|Head of state||Elizabeth II|
|Head of government||John Major|
|Head of government's history||1990–1997|
|Deputy head of government||[note 1]|
|Total no. of ministers||108 appointments|
|Member party||Conservative Party|
|Status in legislature||Majority|
|Opposition cabinet||Kinnock Shadow Cabinet|
|Opposition party||Labour Party|
|Opposition leader||Neil Kinnock|
|Outgoing election||1992 general election|
|Legislature term(s)||50th UK Parliament|
|Predecessor||Third Thatcher ministry|
|Successor||Second Major ministry|
The resignation of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister came on 22 November 1990, more than 11 years after she had first been elected. Former Cabinet minister Michael Heseltine had challenged her leadership earlier in November and although she fared better than him in the leadership contest, she was unable to gain an outright win and handed in her resignation, paving the way for a new Conservative leader more likely to win the next general election which was due within 18 months.
The announcement of the Community Charge (often referred to as the Poll Tax) during 1989 and the onset of a recession shortly before Thatcher's resignation had seen Tory support plunge in the opinion polls, most of which were showing a double-digit Labour lead and making it seem likely that Neil Kinnock would be the next Prime Minister.
Conservative MPs elected Chancellor of the Exchequer John Major as their new leader on 27 November 1990, and he was invited by the Queen to form a government the following day.
The change of leader from Margaret Thatcher to John Major saw a revival in Tory support, with the double-digit lead in the opinion polls for the Labour Party being replaced by a narrow Conservative one by the turn of 1991. Although a general election did not have to be held until June 1992, Labour leader Neil Kinnock kept pressurising Major to hold an election during 1991, but Major resisted the calls and there was no election that year.
The recession which began in the autumn of 1990 deepened during 1991, with unemployment standing at nearly 2.5 million by December 1991, compared to 1.6 million just 18 months earlier. Despite this, Tory support in the opinion polls remained relatively strong, with any Labour lead now being by the narrowest of margins, although Labour still made some gains at the expense of the Tories in local elections, and seized the Monmouth seat from the Tories in a by-election.
Major finally called an election for 9 April 1992 which ended the first Major ministry. In a surprise to most pollsters, Major won the election, which led to the formation of the Second Major ministry and a fourth consecutive Conservative term in office.
November 1990 – April 1992
List of Ministers
Members of the Cabinet are in bold face.
- Also Minister of Overseas Development; created Baroness Chalker of Wallasey 24 April 1992.
- Also Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; created Baroness Chalker of Wallasey 24 April 1992.
- Functions transferred on 11 April 1992 to Department of National Heritage.
- Reorganised as Office of Education 10 April 1992.
- Under-Secretary of State, Sport.
- Office abolished 11 April 1992.
- Also Paymaster-General.
- Also Minister of State, Northern Ireland.
- Not an MP.
- "Willie Whitelaw dies aged 81". The Guardian. Press Association. 1 July 1991. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
- Sherrin, Ned (25 September 2008). Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations. OUP Oxford. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-19-923716-6.
- "Holders of Ministerial Office in the Conservative Governments 1979-1997" (PDF). House of Commons Library. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
- Hennessy, Peter (2001), "The Solo-Coalitionist: John Major, 1990–97", The Prime Minister: The Office and Its Holders since 1945, Penguin Group, ISBN 978-0-14-028393-8
- D. Butler and G. Butler (ed.), Twentieth Century British Political Facts 1900–2000[publisher missing][ISBN missing]
- British Cabinet and Government Membership, archived from the original on 16 January 2009, retrieved 20 April 2012
- British Government 1979–2005, archived from the original on 7 February 2012, retrieved 20 November 2007
Third Thatcher ministry
| Government of the United Kingdom
Second Major ministry