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1955: Sir Winston Churchill resigns

Sir Winston Churchill has resigned as prime minister of Britain due to his failing health.

The news was announced in a statement from Buckingham Palace this afternoon.

It said: "The Right Honorable Sir Winston Churchill had an audience with the Queen this evening and tendered his resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept."

Sir Winston Churchill's resignation follows a dinner party held at 10 Downing Street last night attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and a number of the prime minister's past and present government colleagues.

Tributes to the 80-year-old premier, who will be replaced by Sir Anthony Eden tomorrow, have poured in from around the world.

'Blood, toil, tears and sweat'

Sir Winston Churchill's political career began in 1900 as Conservative MP for Oldham but in 1906, disillusioned with his party, he defected to the Liberal party.

He first became prime minister, as a Conservative again, in 1940 and led the wartime Coalition Government during World War II.

During this time he inspired courage throughout the entire British nation even though he had promised nothing more than "blood, toil, tears and sweat."

After the war the Coalition Government broke up and Winston Churchill resigned the office of prime minister on 23 May 1945.

He was immediately asked by the King to form a new government and his second tenure as prime minister, this time of a caretaker government, began.

But Churchill, although regarded as a superb wartime leader, was regarded less favourably in peacetime and in the general election which followed in July 1945 he was heavily defeated.

A Labour government, led by Clement Attlee, took the reins of power until 1951 when Winston Churchill once again became prime minister at the age of 77.

In 1953 he was made a Knight of the Order of the Garter in recognition of his services to his country.

Sir Winston will continue to sit in the House of Commons as member for Woodford.

In Context
Sir Winston Churchill, who is remembered as Britain's greatest wartime leader, remained a backbencher until 1964.

He died on 24 January 1965, aged 90 at his London home at Hyde Park Gate.

Following his death Sir Winston's body lay in state in Westminster Hall for three days - an honour not accorded any English statesman since Gladstone in 1898.

After a funeral service at St Paul's Cathedral he was buried in Bladon, not far from his birthplace at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

On Sunday November 24 2002, Winston Churchill was named the greatest Briton of all time in a nationwide poll which attracted well over a million votes.


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