Rishi Sunak was criticised at the Liaison Committee for his plans to miss two consecutive Prime Minister's Questions sessions in Parliament:

Sir Chris Bryant: Remind us when a Prime Minister last missed two Prime Minister’s questions in a row.

The Prime Minister: Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that I should not attend the NATO summit on behalf of the United Kingdom, as previous Prime Ministers have done?

Sir Chris Bryant: Remind us when a Prime Minister last missed two Prime Minister’s questions in a row.

The Prime Minister: As I said, I do not know, but is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that I do not attend the NATO summit, which I am not in control of the dates of?

Sir Chris Bryant: No, I am suggesting that you should be attending Prime Minister’s questions and—

The Prime Minister: Not attending the NATO summit.

Sir Chris Bryant: And that you should have made the statement to the House of Commons because your own ministerial code says that that is what you should do.

The Prime Minister: Your view is that I should not be attending the NHS celebration or the King’s coronation celebration in Scotland or, indeed, the NATO summit. That is a perfectly reasonable point of view, but it is worth pointing out that the Leader of the Opposition also will be speaking at the NHS service on Wednesday.

He was asked "remind me when a Prime Minister last missed two PMQs" and didn't have an answer.

So what is the answer? When did a PM last miss two, consecutive PMQs? I'll exclude any instances (if those exist) where they were ill for consecutive weeks as those instances seem politically irrelevant.


1 Answer 1


The last occasion that a Prime Minister did not attend PMQs twice in a row was on the 22nd of April and the 29th of April 2020. On the 22nd, Johnson was recovering from coronavirus, and on the 29th, he was otherwise occupied with the birth of his son. On both occasions, the Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, took questions instead.

The next most recent occasion was in 2010, when David Cameron missed the last PMQs before the summer recess on July 21st due to an official visit to the USA. When Parliament returned in September, Cameron missed the first PMQs back on the 8th due to his father being taken ill. Nick Clegg, the Deputy PM, took questions instead.

Excluding occasions which involved illness, the most recent occasion was back in 1996, when John Major missed PMQs on the 29th of February and the 5th of March. Michael Heseltine deputised owing to Major carrying out "engagements in the far east".

  • 2
    Just out of curiosity, which data source did you use to extract that information? Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 6:33
  • 7
    @NoDataDumpNoContribution I looked at the Hansard contributions of each PM's deputy for instances when they took PMQs, then looked for consecutive weeks :)
    – CDJB
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 6:45
  • 1
    @CDJB Britain hasn't always had a Deputy PM though (you may well realise that and were using "deputy" loosely, so already checked other stand-ins, but just mentioning in case not).
    – ajd138
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 11:13
  • @ajd138 for sure - both Damian Green and David Liddington deputised at PMQs for Theresa May, for example, neither was Deputy PM.
    – CDJB
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 11:17
  • 9
    It's perhaps worth noting that prior to Tony Blair, there were two (shorter) PMQs per week, held on Tuesday and Thursday, rather than a single Wednesday PMQs. I would presume missing consecutive PMQs is far more likely when they are also more frequent. Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 13:30

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