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1957: Sir Anthony Eden resigns

Sir Anthony Eden has resigned as prime minister of Britain due to ill health.

A statement issued by Buckingham Palace at 1900 GMT today said that following a private audience with the Queen, Her Majesty had accepted the prime minister's resignation.

Sir Anthony issued his own statement this evening: "When I returned to this country a month ago I hoped that my health had been sufficiently restored to enable me to carry out my duties effectively for some considerable time. That hope has not been realised.

"I do not feel that it is right for me to continue in office as the Queen's First Minister knowing that I shall be unable to do my full duty by my Sovereign and the country."

Successor

Sir Anthony underwent a series of operations to correct a gall bladder condition in 1953.

But in recent months the abdominal symptoms have recurred and he has now been advised by his doctors to take rest.

The Queen will decide who will become the next prime minister and leader of the Conservatives.

It is thought the job will be given either to Harold Macmillan, current Chancellor of the Exchequer or to Rab Butler, leader of the House of Commons.

Sir Anthony was prime minister for one year and 279 days.

Although a popular leader when he was elected, many believe his controversial decision to use armed intervention in the Suez crisis last year was the beginning of his demise as prime minister.

In Context
The following day Harold Macmillan accepted the Queen's offer of the post of prime minister.

Sir Anthony Eden first entered Parliament as Conservative member for Warwick and Leamington in 1923.

He became Foreign Secretary in 1935 but resigned three years later in protest at Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement.

When Churchill became prime minister in May 1940 Eden returned to the foreign office and took on the role of Leader of the House of Commons.

Between 1945 and 1951 he was deputy leader of the Opposition during Attlee's government before returning as Churchill's foreign secretary in 1951.

He was knighted in 1954 and succeeded Winston Churchill as prime minister in April 1955.

Following his resignation in January 1957 he was created Earl of Avon in 1961. He died in January 1977.


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