UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has resigned after just 45 days in the post, making her the shortest serving PM in British history. Her dramatic decision was delivered to the nation in a speech outside Number Ten Downing Street, just after lunchtime today.
A successor will be elected in yet another Tory leadership contest, after Ms Truss won the previous one, which dragged on throughout the summer. However, this next one will be completed by the 28 October, in just eight days time. It is believed that incredibly, Boris Johnson might stand again, which would represent an astonishing turn of events, given that he was forced out of office less than three months ago.
PM admits not able to deliver mandate
The Prime Minister had been urged to go after the events of the past week in which both her Chancellor and Home Secretary left their jobs, for contrasting reasons and Ms Truss was forced into an embarrassing series of U-turns on her economic policies.
In her address, which lasted just a matter of minutes, the PM said the Conservative Party had elected her on a mandate to cut taxes and boost economic growth, but that the financial and international instability meant that she could not deliver on it, in what is a time of absolute political chaos and turbulence.
Only yesterday, She had declared in Prime Minister’s Questions that she was a “fighter, not a quitter” after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked her why she had not resigned. She confirmed that she had spoken to His Majesty The King to notify him that she was resigning as leader of the Conservative Party.
The Prime Minister added that she had met the chairman of the 1922 committee, Sir Graham Brady and had agreed that there would be a leadership election to be completed within the next week, to ensure that the country remained on a path to deliver their fiscal plans and in her words: “maintain our country’s economic stability and national security.” That particular line will undoubtedly raise many an eyebrow, as the country’s economy is currently quite the opposite of stable.
Shortest serving PM
She was the shortest serving UK Prime Minister after replacing Mr Johnson on 6 September and resigning 45 days later. The previous record was set at 119 days by George Canning who died in office in 1827. Ms Truss said she would remain in the post until a successor takes over as party leader and is formally appointed Prime Minister by King Charles III.
One crisis after another
It has been six weeks of almost none stop crisis for the PM, as the government lurched from one disaster to another. With her support, Finance Minster Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled £45bn of tax cuts in her third week in office, in what they called a “mini-budget”. This was widely blamed for causing huge economic problems. Almost all of it was reversed and Kwarteng was sacked as Chancellor. Then yesterday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned and remarkably Ms Truss appointed former rivals Jeremy Hunt and Grant Shapps respectively, into the posts.
New leader should be in by end of next week
Sir Graham Brady confirmed that Tory party members will have a say in the new Conservative leadership race – if it comes down to two candidates. If the MPs somehow united around one candidate, that may not happen, but this outcome seems unlikely given some of the cliques within the party. He also said he expects the leadership result to be settled by 28 October, just one week tomorrow away.
Opposition call for general election
Opposition leaders predictably called for an immediate general election, but the likelihood of that happening seems remote at best and realistically a complete none starter, given the conservatives’ popularity, or more to the point the lack of it, at this present moment in time.
Sir Keir Starmer said that after 12 years of Tory failure, the British people deserved so much better than an “ever revolving door of chaos.” He added that the Conservatives had left the country “weaker and worse off”, before stating: “The Tories cannot respond to their latest shambles by yet again simply clicking their fingers and shuffling the people at the top without the consent of the British people.” He insisted that the country needed a fresh start and demanded a general election “now”.
Surely not Boris?
It looks in the immediate aftermath of Ms Truss departing that the early favourites are Rishi Sunak, who will undoubtedly point towards his opposition of the PM’s policies during the first leadership contest as a good base to mount a second leadership charge; he is joined in speculation by Penny Mordaunt, Ms Braverman and Ben Wallace; but not it seems Mr Hunt who seemingly has ruled himself out.
After the staggering events in government this year, who would bet against Boris Johnson taking control once more, he is certainly audacious enough.
Mick the Ram