Truss resignation: Sunak and Mordaunt favourites to become next British PM

Truss resignation: Sunak and Mordaunt favourites to become next British PM

Updated: 1 month, 10 days, 17 hours, 18 minutes, 2 seconds ago
Liz Truss has announced her resignation as leader of the UK's Conservative Party The next Tory leader, and British prime minister, will be chosen by October 28th Former chancellor Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt appear to be favourites to succeed Ms Truss Taoiseach and French president call for new leader to be appointed "as quickly as possible" Ms Truss was in power for just 44 days, making her the shortest serving prime minister in the UK's history

Updated: 2.55pm

Liz Truss has announced her resignation as British prime minister, a mere 44 days after taking office.

A leadership election in the Conservative Party will be completed within the next week, with Graham Brady, chair for the party's 1922 Committee confirming the contested should be concluded by October 28th.

Speaking in Brussels as he arrived for an EU summit, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the UK must appoint a new prime minister "as quickly as possible" to ensure stability within the broader political and financial spectrums.

Earlier, outside the door of her Number 10 Downing Street office, Ms Truss accepted that she could not deliver the promises she made when she was running for Conservative leader, having lost the faith of her party.

"I recognise though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party," she said.

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"This morning, I met the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. We've agreed that there will be a leadership election to be completed within the next week. This will ensure that we remain on a path to deliver our fiscal plans and maintain our country's economic stability and national security."

The contenders to replace Liz Truss as British prime minister and Conservative Party leader. Photo: Graphic News

Commenting on her resignation, Mr Martin said: "I think stability is very important and we would like to see the UK system within its capacity to have a successor selected as quickly as possible and that stability would be brought to the situation given the fairly significant geopolitical issues facing Europe, not least the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis."

Attending the same conference in Brussels, French president Emmanuel Macron echoed the Taoiseach's sentiment, stressing it was important that the UK finds "stability as soon as possible".

"We want, above all else, stability," Mr Macron told reporter. "On a personal level, I am always sad to see a colleague go," he added.

News of Ms Truss's departure was not met with such sadness in Russia, where the country's foreign ministry welcomed her resignation, saying she would be remembered for her "catastrophic illiteracy".

"Britain has never known such a disgrace of a prime minister," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a social media post.

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In just six weeks as prime minister, Ms Truss has been forced to abandon almost all her policy programme after it triggered a bond market rout and a collapse of her approval ratings and those of her Conservative Party.

Since last Friday, she has lost two of the four most senior ministers in government. She also sat expressionless in parliament as her new finance minister ripped up her economic plans and faced howls of laughter as she tried to defend her record.

Chaotic scenes

"We can't go on like this," one Conservative lawmaker said late on Wednesday, of the chaotic scenes in the UK parliament.
Ms Truss's spokesman acknowledged Wednesday was a "difficult day" after the difficulties in parliament and the resignation of a senior minister.

Asked earlier on Thursday if Ms Truss would lead the Conservative Party into the next election after several lawmakers called for her to stand down, the spokesman said: "Yes".

The sight of yet another unpopular prime minister resigning underscores just how volatile British politics has become since the 2016 vote to leave the EU unleashed a battle for the direction of the country.

Ms Truss became Britain's fourth prime minister in six years after being elected in September to lead the Conservative Party by its members, not the broader electorate, and with support from only around a third of the party's lawmakers. She promised tax cuts funded by borrowing, deregulation and a sharp shift to the right on cultural and social issues.

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Her abrupt loss of authority comes as the British economy heads into recession and finance minister Jeremy Hunt races to find tens of billions of pounds of spending cuts to reassure investors who took fright at Ms Truss's policy proposals.

Liz Truss has been fighting for political survival since September 23rd. Photo: PA

Government borrowing costs, while lower than they were at the height of the crisis last week, remain elevated as investors question who is in charge and whether Mr Hunt will be able to rebuild the UK's once-sound economic reputation.

Crispin Blunt, a Conservative lawmaker for 25 years, told Reuters the situation was so grave that his colleagues needed to allow one person with experience to take control.

"Personal considerations and ambition now must be set aside," he said, adding that he would back Mr Hunt as leader.

Other candidates to replace Ms Truss include former chancellor Rishi Sunak – who warned that her economic policy would damage the economy – or Penny Mordaunt, a minister who is popular with many strands of the party.

Buffeted by events

Ms Truss has been fighting for political survival since September 23rd when her then-chancellor and close ally, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced a 'mini-budget' of vast, unfunded tax cuts that sent shockwaves through financial markets.

She fired Mr Kwarteng on Friday and accepted the resignation of her interior minister, Suella Braverman, on Wednesday.

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With opinion polls showing the Conservatives face a wipeout at the next election, some lawmakers say Ms Truss must go so they can try to rebuild their brand. Others seem to have given up.

Sadly, it seems we must change leader BUT even if the angel Gabriel now takes over, the Parliamentary Party has to urgently rediscover discipline, mutual respect and teamwork if we are to (i) govern the UK well and (ii) avoid slaughter at the next election.#lastchance

— Gary Streeter MP (@garystreeterSWD) October 20, 2022

"Sadly, it seems we must change leader BUT even if the angel Gabriel now takes over, the Parliamentary Party has to urgently rediscover discipline, mutual respect and teamwork if we are to (i) govern the UK well and (ii) avoid slaughter at the next election," lawmaker Gary Streeter said on Twitter.

With inflation at a 40-year high and mortgage rates jumping, the scenes of lawmakers warring and scheming in parliament risk deepening anger among voters who are preparing for a tough winter of rising food and energy costs.

Wednesday's parliamentary drama was sparked by confusion over whether a vote on fracking was a confidence vote in the government. Opposition lawmakers said some of Ms Truss's Conservatives were "manhandled" to vote with the government.

In the turmoil that followed the government could not say for several hours whether the politician in charge of party discipline – the chief whip – had quit.

"I think it is a shambles and a disgrace," lawmaker Charles Walker told BBC television, saying he was "livid" at the "talentless people" who put Ms Truss in power.

Downing Street eventually issued a statement at 1.33am to say Ms Truss had "full confidence" in the chief whip and her deputy.

It said any lawmaker who abstained on the vote to allow fracking could "expect proportionate disciplinary action". Voting results show that more than 30 Conservative lawmakers did not vote, including those who were away or unwell.

Transport minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, sent out to defend the government to broadcasters and radio stations on Thursday morning, was asked if Ms Truss would lead the Conservative Party into the next election, expected in 2024.

"At the moment that is still the case," she said.

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