What do prime ministers do after office? What Theresa May and David Cameron do now - what Boris will do after resignation

This is what the future could hold for Boris Johnson after he resigned as the 55th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

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Boris Johnson’s resignation may have been fraught with controversy, but he is certainly not the first leader to leave the position of Prime Minister during their serving term.

In the 21st century alone, all serving Prime Ministers - Tony Blair (1997 -2007), Gordon Brown (2007-2010), David Cameron (2010-2016), Theresa May (2016-2018) and Boris Johnson (2018-2022) - have resigned.

Although this did not dampen their political careers, with many continuing to serve their constituents or moving onto other ventures.

Here’s what former Prime Ministers are doing now, and what could face Mr Johnson in a post-Downing Street future.

What is next for Boris Johnson - and what did Theresa May and David Cameron do after resigning as Prime Minister? (Credit: Getty Images)What is next for Boris Johnson - and what did Theresa May and David Cameron do after resigning as Prime Minister? (Credit: Getty Images)
What is next for Boris Johnson - and what did Theresa May and David Cameron do after resigning as Prime Minister? (Credit: Getty Images)

What happens to Prime Ministers after they resign?

In the immediate aftermath of resigning as party leader, the British Prime Minister would normally stay in power as a caretaker Prime Minister.

This is normally in place until a new party leader - and in turn Prime Minister -is chosen by the party members.

David Cameron announced his resignation on 24 June 2016, only a few hours after a ‘Leave’ majority was reached in the Brexit referendum.

However, he confirmed that he would in fact not be leaving the role in summer, instead formally resigning July after Theresa May was confirmed as the new Tory leader.

Ms May similarly announced her intention to resign on 24 May 2018, before formally resigning on 24 July 2018.

Boris Johnson has indicated that he intends to follow his predecessor’s footsteps in staying on as care-taker Prime Minister during the leadership contest, however critics have urged Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab to take his place instead.

This is due to the deep divisions which Mr Johnson’s leadership had created towards the end of his time in power. Almost 60 MPs had resigned from their post in order to force him out, with many claiming that the former party leader is unable to form a fully-functioning government.

Opponents of Mr Johnson within his own party have claimed that another leader is needed in the interim period to allow the party to heal these divisions.

What do Prime Ministers do after they leave office?

After Prime Ministers leave the door of Number 10 Downing Street for the last time, their career is certainly not over.

Although they do not hold the role of party leader or Prime Minister any longer, they are still a serving MP and will continue to represent their constituencies and constituents.

Some may choose to leave UK politics altogether however, although this is rarely seen in the immediate aftermath.

In 2007, Tony Blair had originally intended to remain as an MP after he resigned. However, he made a move into diplomacy and was quickly confirmed as Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia.

By taking the role, Mr Blair was forced to give up his seat as an MP due to the job being that of financial gain.

On the flipside, Gordon Brown, Mr Blair’s successor, returned to the backbenches following his resignation in 2010 to serve his constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

He stood down as an MP in 2015.

What is David Cameron doing now?

Upon formally resigning in July 2016, Mr Cameron indicated that he would be continuing to serve as an MP on the backbenches.

However, his resignation from his MP seat was shortly submitted and Mr Cameron left British politics in September 2016.

David Cameron waved goodbye to Number 10 after serving as Prime Minister for six years. (Credit: Getty Images)David Cameron waved goodbye to Number 10 after serving as Prime Minister for six years. (Credit: Getty Images)
David Cameron waved goodbye to Number 10 after serving as Prime Minister for six years. (Credit: Getty Images)

In October 2016, he was appointed chairman of the National Citizen Service Patrons, and was also appointed as president of Alzheimer’s Research UK in January 2017.

Mr Cameron has since been appointed to a number of roles in numerous sectors, including joining the data and software company Afiniti as chairman of the advisory board and advocacy and campaigning group ONE as director.

In September 2019, he released a memoir titled ‘For The Record’, which gave detailed insight into life at Number 10 for Mr Cameron. It is believed that he signed an £800,000 contract for the release of the book through HarperCollins.

Despite leaving politics in 2016, Mr Cameron found himself embroiled in a scandal in 2021, after it was revealed that the former Prime Minister lobbied government ministers and civil servants on behalf of Greensill Capital.

Mr Cameron worked as an advisor with the firm and earned a total of $10million for the total of 30 months part-time work. He had arranged for private meetings between bosses and then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock and, after the firm went bust during the Covid-19 pandemic, he lobbied ministers to bend rules and allow Greensil to receive loans from the Covid Corporate Financing Facility scheme.

Ultimately the loans were rejected by Chancellor Rishi Sunak but the scandal led to an investigation being launched into Greensill Capital’s access in government.

What is Theresa May doing now?

Unlike her predecessor, Mrs May returned the to backbenches after she resigned as Prime Minister in 2018.

Theresa May quit in 2018. (Credit: Getty Images)Theresa May quit in 2018. (Credit: Getty Images)
Theresa May quit in 2018. (Credit: Getty Images)

She said that she wanted to “devote her full time” to serving her constituents in Maidenhead and she successfully retained her seat at the 2019 General Election.

Despite leading her party at one point, Ms May has had no issue disagreeing with Boris Johnson’s policies, having abstained in a vote for a second Covid lockdown, and defying the whip and voting against the party over cuts to foreign aid budget.

She has also been outspoken about her disdain for the Partygate scandal, telling Mr Johnson in the House of Commons: “Either my right honourable friend had not read the rules or didn’t understand what they meant and others around him, or they didn’t think the rules applied to Number 10. Which was it?”

Ms May’s future may lie in international politics, with the former Prime Minister’s name floated as a potential successor to Jens Stoltenberg as secretary-general of NATO, with Mr Stoltenberg set to retire in 2023.

What will Boris Johnson do after leaving Number 10?

After announcing his resignation, many are wondering what the next career step for Mr Johnson could be.

He could well stick around to continue to serve his constituents in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Prior to his career in politics, Mr Johnson worked in journalism and has continued to write opinion columns for UK broadsheets, so we could see him make a return to his roots.

Likewise, Mr Johnson has been credited as a master campaigner during his time as Prime Minister, which could see him move into an advisory role within government.