Truss said a new prime minister will be selected by her Conservative Party in the coming week — but how? The Tory party is bitterly divided by centrist and right-wing factions and there is no clear consensus candidate to take over.
Truss, the country’s third female prime minister, was unable to save her embattled premiership even though she ditched her entire economic plan and replaced two key Cabinet posts over the past week.
“I cannot deliver the mandate for which I have been elected by the Conservative Party. I spoke to the king and notified him that I was resigning,” she said in front of her residence at Downing Street.
Truss said that there would be a leadership election to replace her “to be completed within the next week.” She said that she would “remain as prime minister until a successor has been chosen.”
The leadership election that ushered her into office took two months, and involved multiple rounds of votes among Conservative Party lawmakers before two finalists competed for the support of the broader party faithful.
An election completed within a week suggests dramatically truncating that process — and potentially narrowing the decision about who will lead the country to an even smaller set of people.
A day after she told Parliament that she was a “fighter, not a quitter,” Truss met with the powerful chair of the 1922 committee, Graham Brady, who knows exactly how many Conservative lawmakers have issued letters of no confidence in her leadership.
Truss has only been in office for 44 days. The previous record-holder for shortest-serving prime minister was George Canning, who lasted 119 days. He started on April 12, 1827 and died on Aug. 8, 1827.
Under her leadership, the poll ratings for the Conservative Party have tanked. If there was an election today, the Conservatives would almost be annihilated. YouGov, the pollster, said that she was the most unpopular prime minister the organization has ever tracked.
Truss came to office with a vision for a low-tax, small government state. But her plans, which included billions of unfunded tax cuts, spooked the markets and sent the pound plunging. It wasn’t long before she was forced to jettison her agenda and fire her chancellor.
It was unclear who exactly would take over from Truss.
On Thursday morning at least a 16 of Truss’s own lawmakers went on the record calling for her to resign following a chaotic and confusing 24 hours, which saw claims of bullying in Parliament and the resignation of the home secretary and may likely have been the final straw for the party.
Among those was Conservative lawmaker Sir Gary Streeter who tweeted, “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.”
In one impassioned interview Wednesday night, lawmaker Charles Walker spoke frankly about his frustrations. “I’m livid,” he said. “I really shouldn’t say this, but I hope all those people who put Liz Truss in No. 10, I hope it was worth it … because the damage they have done to our party is extraordinary.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer, who hasn’t had to do much more than sit back and watch his rivals implode, called for a general election “now.”
“The Conservative Party has shown it no longer has a mandate to govern,” he said in a statement following the announcement. “The British people deserve so much better than this revolving door of chaos.”