Liz Truss resigns as PM and triggers fresh leadership election

Truss says she will step down after a week-long emergency contest to find successor

Liz Truss has resigned as prime minister and will step down after a week-long emergency contest to find her successor, she has announced outside Downing Street.

It follows a turbulent 45 days in office during which Truss’s mini-budget crashed the markets, she lost two key ministers and shed the confidence of almost all her own MPs.

Her statement came after she met Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, at Downing Street, followed by her deputy prime minister, Thérèse Coffey, and the party chair, Jake Berry.

Truss said she had entered office with “a vision for a low-tax, high-growth economy that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit”.

She went on: “I recognise that, 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.

“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 to deliver our fiscal plans and maintain our country’s economic stability and national security. I will remain as prime minister until a successor has been chosen.”

A new leader will be chosen over the course of the next week, Brady told reporters, suggesting the party membership could have a role in the election. The 1922 executive and the Conservative party board will meet at 4pm to decide how the election will proceed – but it could include requiring candidates to meet a high threshold of MP nominations.

Brady said they hoped a new leader would be in place by 28 October, allowing the scheduled fiscal event to take place on 31 October – just three days after the new prime minister is in place.

Both the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, and the former cabinet minister Michael Gove have ruled themselves out of standing for leader. The former chancellor Rishi Sunak is likely to be a candidate, as is Kemi Badenoch, the international trade secretary. Others who could stand include Penny Mordaunt and Grant Shapps. There is also the possibility of a return for Boris Johnson.

Opposition parties called for an immediate general election, saying the Conservatives had no mandate to govern.

Keir Starmer said: “After 12 years of Tory failure, the British people deserve so much better than this revolving door of chaos. In the last few years, the Tories have set record-high taxation, trashed our institutions and created a cost a living crisis. Now, they have crashed the economy so badly that people are facing £500 a month extra on their mortgages. The damage they have done will take years to fix.”

The Tories must not respond by again “shuffling the people at the top without the consent of the British people”, the Labour leader added.

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said: “It was inevitable Liz Truss would have to go after the damage she’s inflicted – but merely swapping leaders of a broken Tory government is not enough. There must now be a general election – people will accept nothing less.”

Carla Denyer, the co-leader of the Greens, said: “The Tory chaos has spiralled beyond any pretence that the country has a viable government.”

Truss made her then chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, take the blame for September’s mini-budget, despite it being widely seen as a joint project. A panicked market reaction to the £45bn of largely unfunded tax cuts caused the pound to slump and the cost of new government debt to soar.

Facing a mutiny by her MPs as mortgage costs rocketed, Truss sacked Kwarteng but was unable to explain why she should stay on when she had strongly advocated the the tax-cutting measures as well.

Another humiliation came when Hunt announced the scrapping of almost all the tax cuts and the scaling back of Truss’s flagship scheme to cap energy bills, in an attempt to restore stability.

The final straw for many Tory MPs appeared to be the chaotic scenes on Wednesday, when a vote on a Labour motion over fracking led to mayhem in the voting lobbies, with shouting and jostling. Afterwards, a dozen or more Conservative MPs who rebelled did not even know whether they still had the whip.


Peter Walker, Pippa Crerar and Jessica Elgot

The GuardianTramp

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