Ahead of the General Election, we’ve dived back into the history books to find out all the election facts and statistics you never knew.

We’ve covered everything from the shortest and longest serving MPs to the story of an assassinated Prime Minister, as well as what will happen to MPs who lose their seat in the election.

When was the first General Election? Who won?

The first UK General Election was in 1802, between Henry Addington of the Tories and Charles James Fox of the Whigs, and was won by the Tories. 

This first election was held over a period of nearly two months, from July 5 1802 to August 28 1802. 

Prior to 1802, there were elections in the ‘Kingdom of Great Britain’, as it was then known, and parliaments were summoned and dissolved at royal prerogative. 

Who was the longest-serving MP - and the shortest?

The longest continuously serving MP is David Lloyd George, who entered Parliament in 1890 and served for 55 years until 1945. 

However, the title for the most years served in Parliament goes to Winston Churchill, who was an MP for 62 years, standing for Conservatives from 1900-1904, Liberals from 1904-1922, and Conservatives again from 1924-1964. Across that time, he was MP for Oldham, Manchester North West, Dundee, Epping and Woodford. 

Technically, the shortest ever serving MP was Thomas Higgins of the Irish Parliamentary Party for North Galway in 1906, who died before his win was announced and was declared MP posthumously, serving zero days. 

The next shortest serving MP was Alfred Dobbs of the Labour Party for Smethwick in 1945, who died in a car accident one day after his election. 

The shortest serving MP whose term wasn’t cut short by a death was Henry Francis Compton of New Forest in 1905, who served for 45 days until losing the seat to the Liberal Party in the 1906 general election. 

general election
The Houses of Parliament. (Marcin Nowak on Unsplash)

What are the biggest and smallest ever majorities in a General Election?

The largest House of Commons majority after an election was in 1924, when Stanley Baldwin’s Conservatives held a majority of 210 seats.

The smallest majority was in 1974, when Harold Wilson’s Labour won with a majority of 4 seats. 

How many times has there been a coalition government where two or more parties shared power?

In 1918, there was a coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal party, and in 2010, a coalition was formed between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Coalition governments are formed when a party fails to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons, so parties must collaborate to create a coalition with a majority of seats. 

Is it true a Prime Minister was once assassinated?

Yes, it is true. On May 11 1812, Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons. Perceval was shot by John Belllingham, a merchant from Liverpool who had been imprisoned in Russia during the Napoleonic Wars. Bellingham was protesting against the government’s failure to compensate him for his imprisonment, and though questions were raised about his sanity, he was judged to be legally responsible for his actions. 

Does the Prime Minister have to live in Downing Street?

The Prime Minister is allowed to live at 10 Downing Street, and it is their ‘official residence’, but over the past few decades, more Prime Ministers have opted to live next door, at 11 Downing Street. 

How long can a Prime Minister serve in office?

A parliamentary term lasts a maximum of five years, but a Prime Minister can serve an unlimited number of terms, as long as they still have the support of their party. 

What happens to the MPs who lose their seats in an election?

Former MPs are given a Winding Up budget, a sum of money which helps to pay expenses once their salaries are ended, much like redundancy pay. If the MP has been in office for two or more years, they are also entitled to a Loss of Office payment. 

The security passes of former MPs will deactivate, meaning they can no longer access the Houses of Parliament. 

Any staff of an MP who has lost their seat will be made redundant, including campaign assistants, researchers and assistants.