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British Political Facts 1900-1994

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    Economic problems led to confrontations with the trade unions, especially the National Union of Miners, and to internal party dissension. Heath called an election in and the party lost, allowing Labour to form a minority government. After losing a second national election to Labour in , Heath was succeeded as party leader by Margaret Thatcher , who during her four years as leader of the opposition —79 frequently stated her determination to pursue deregulation and supply-side economic reforms.

    She combined this ambitious economic agenda—which included the privatization of several state-owned industries and the sale of more than 1.

    Conservative Party | History, Facts, Policy, & Structure |

    His less charismatic political style did not prevent him from winning the general election of , but he had to contend with a prolonged economic recession, internal party conflict over the question of European integration, and dismally low opinion-poll ratings. Soon after the elections, Major resigned as party leader.

    With some potential leaders suddenly ineligible because they had lost their parliamentary seats, William Hague , former secretary of state for Wales, was elected party leader. In , under former home secretary Michael Howard, the Conservatives won some 30 additional seats in the House of Commons but remained well shy of a parliamentary majority. Howard promptly resigned as party leader, and David Cameron presided over the gradual ascent of the Conservatives over the next five years.

    Having captured seats in the general election of , the Conservatives became the largest party in the House of Commons, but their failure to win an outright majority led to a hung Parliament.

    Conservative and Labour Party leaders met with the Liberal Democrats over the ensuing days in an effort to secure enough seats to form a new government. In midterm local elections in , however, neither the Conservatives nor their coalition partners fared well, with the Conservatives losing more than seats in England, Scotland, and Wales.

    That trend continued in the May elections for the European Parliament , in which the Conservatives lost seven seats to finish not only just behind Labour but in third place; the United Kingdom Independence Party finished in first place.

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    Opinion polling before the May U. In the event, however, the Conservatives pulled off a stunning victory—winning seats, a gain of 24 seats over their showing in the election—that allowed Cameron to form a majority government. In Cameron first promised a national referendum on the issue, and in February he succeeded in winning concessions from EU leaders that were aimed at pleasing Euroskeptics. In the event, voters chose to leave the EU, and Cameron announced his intention to resign as prime minister and party leader. In July he was replaced by his home secretary, Theresa May , who became the second woman in British history to serve as prime minister.