Reported in the News Letter on January 10, 1957: Sir Anthony resigns as Prime Minister due to ill health

editorial image

Sir Anthony Eden yesterday tendered to the Queen his resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.

It is believed that Mr R A Butler, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons, will almost certainly be summoned to Buckingham Palace today and offered the Premiership.

Sir Anthony called a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday afternoon and then had a meeting with junior ministers, after which he drove from 10 Downing Street to Buckingham Palace and tendered his resignation to the Queen. The official announcement was made from Downing Street just before 7pm.

The announcement itself was brief and formal. It said: “The Rt Hon Sir Anthony Eden MP, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, had an audience of the Queen this evening and tendered his resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, which Her Majesty was pleased to accept.”

The explanation came later in a statement from Sir Anthony: “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 to my Sovereign and the country. I have, therefore, decided, with the utmost regret, that I must tender my resignation to the Queen, which Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to accept.”

A medical bulletin from Sir Anthony’s four doctors said: “The Prime Minister’s health gives cause for anxiety. In spite of the improvement which followed his rest before Christmas there has been a recurrence of abdominal symptoms...In our opinion his health will no longer enable him to sustain the heavy burdens inseparable from the office of Prime Minister.”