Liz Truss resigns as Prime Minister

October 20, 2022 • 8:21 am

Well, some people predicted that Tory Truss wouldn’t last much longer than this, and, indeed, she has resigned as Prime Minister after only six weeks in office.

Prime Minister Liz Truss announced on Thursday that she would resign, just days after her new finance minister reversed virtually all of her planned tax cuts, sweeping away a free-market fiscal agenda that promised a radical policy shift for Britain but instead plunged the country into weeks of economic and political turmoil.

“I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected,” she said in brief remarks outside Downing Street.

She said she had informed King Charles III that she was resigning as leader of the Conservative Party, and that she would remain leader and prime minister until a successor is chosen within a week.

Her departure, after only six weeks in office, was a shockingly rapid fall from power, and throws her Conservative Party into further disarray, following the messy departure of Boris Johnson from Downing Street over the summer.

The announcement came minutes after Ms. Truss held an unscheduled meeting with Graham Brady, the head of a group of Conservative lawmakers known as the 1922 Committee that plays an influential role in selecting the party leader.

It was truly a debacle, and I’m not sure whether the replacement has to be a Tory, or whether they’ll hold a new election. (That’s how pathetically little I know about British politics.) At any rate, this is by far the shortest tenure of any Prime Minister in British history; the runner-up is George Canning, who took the job on April 10, 1827, but died from pneumonia four months later.

I invite British readers to celebrate. Does this increase the chances of a Labour government? And, if so, do they have a good candidate for PM?

Larry does!

51 thoughts on “Liz Truss resigns as Prime Minister

    1. Indeed!.The dodgy tabloid The Daily Star had odds on a 60p lettuce they bought from a supermarket lasting longer than Liz Truss – and the lettuce has won. “Will Daily Star’s 60p Tesco lettuce or PM Liz Truss last longer? Watch live feed”

  1. Very doubtful there will be a general election. The Tories have a good majority in Parliament and would be fools to call it. The only other option is for King Charles to call a general election but there is no chance he would meddle in this political mess.
    Time for the opposition parties to get ready for the next election.

    1. The King dissolves Parliament (which forces an election) only at the request of the Prime Minister. He can theoretically refuse the request and invite another party leader to try to gain the confidence of the House to form a government*. With the Tories having a majority this would not happen. An election will come only if the Government loses a confidence motion, as on the Budget, because many Tory MPs vote against it, rebelling against their Whips, or if the PM, whoever s/he is, makes the request to the King.. The King has no authority to dissolve or prorogue Parliament on his own initiative and could not publicly call for the Government of the day to resign.
      * This happened once in Canada during the 1930s, the so-called King-Byng affair. (King was the PM, Byng was the King’s representative in Canada.)

  2. I’m not sure whether the replacement has to be a Tory, …

    Yes, because the Tory party has a large majority in the House of Commons, and the PM is whoever commands the confidence of the House.

    … or whether they’ll hold a new election.

    No chance, since they (the Tory party, who have a majority, so control calling an election) would be massacred. Labour are currently miles ahead in the polls.

    Does this increase the chances of a Labour government? And, if so, do they have a good candidate for PM?

    Yes, this turmoil means that Labour would win any election in the near future, and their leader is Keir Starmer, a sensible, dependable, moderate figure. Unexciting, perhaps, but “excitement” is not what the electorate are looking for at the moment.

    But, under the rules, there is no need for a new election until 5 years after the last one, so January 2025 at the latest, and there’s a lot that could happen before then. As above, the Tories would not opt for an early election unless the polls were looking favourable.

  3. That’s how pathetically little I know about British politics.

    I only know anything at all about US politics because I was an avid follow of the soap opera that was the Trump presidency.

    I invite British readers to celebrate.

    I’m afraid I must decline your invitation. As Coel has said above, the Tories are still in power and the fundamental problem is that they no longer have anybody of the required quality to run a country in economic crisis. They will probably spend the next two years stabbing each other in the back and making decisions based on self interest rather than the interests of the country. Their majority is too strong to force a general election before the five years is up.

    The only chance we have is if the incoming PM decides enough is enough and calls a general election or the Tory back benchers do the same and vote with Labour against the government in a vote of No Confidence. The problem with that is the opinion polls say that the Conservatives would get annihilated. It would be as if the GOP only held about 20 seats in the House of Representatives after the mid terms. Yes, that bad (or good depending on your PoV).

    It’s like the crew of the Titanic squabbling about which one of then gets to steer.

  4. UK was turned into a Tax Haven by Thatcher in the 70s-80s. Now that UK is gone from the EU via Brexit, the damages of the COVID-19, Russian invasion of Ukraine, and inflation do not allow the Pound to maintain its value if neoliberal measures are taken, as the Markets do not trust UK’s economy now, isolated as it is from the huge European market. Another story is that this means now that the Labor party (social democrats) will win the next elections. Nein, mein Freund. UK is as neoliberal as US now. The City rules Britania. Money laundering is UK’s game since it lost its Empire. Cf. the documentary available in YouTuve The Spider Web. If they are going to apply Keynesian measures (i.e. the State is going to intervene in the economy), they will do it with a Neocon face. For survival. Not for social justice. If Bertrand Russell were here to see his England controlled by bankers and brokers…

    1. Another story is that this means now that the Labor party (social democrats) will win the next elections. Nein, mein Freund. UK is as neoliberal as US now.

      I don’t think you understand the level of anger people have against the Conservative Party at the moment. Labour (NB note spelling) would annihilate the Tories in an election right now. And it’s unlikely to get better for the Tories in the next year or so.

      Check out this page for a prediction of the result of a general election

  5. She had won against her opponent Rishi Sunak during the Conservative Party members poll, apparently because he was viewed as someone who had ‘stabbed’ Boris Johnson in the back. It’s currently unknown who may now succeed her, because Tory MPs have different views on who should be the best candidate. It’s however unlikely that this situation will lead to a general election because the Tory MPs wouldn’t vote for their own demise in a Parliamentary vote to accept the proposal.

    1. I think there was also some wishful thinking in the minds of those who voted for her. She promised low taxes and immediate growth resulting from it. Others said it wasn’t the right time and the short term effects would be unbearable (even if potentially beneficial in the long run). People (Tory MPs and then ordinary Tory party members) voted for her. She then did exactly what she said she would do. It turned out just as badly as wiser minds had predicted. And now the people who voted for her are blaming her. She did just what she was voted in to do, and yet they blame her and not themselves for being so blind as to vote for an empty-headed know-nothing. A little bit of self-reflection and humility is required. That alone indicates it is time for the Tories to go: they don’t deserve to stay in power now.
      Sadly, Starmer’s Labour party is not going to do the country any good. Their one economic idea is to ‘soak the rich’ which is how they have always disposed of any economic good times they have inherited over the years. And if only that were all—this time they have Momentum seething just under the surface, so look for intensive culture war, identity politics and yet more anti-semitism. They will try to reverse Brexit, and be that a good or a bad thing, it has always been their wish to do so since the grimy hoi polloi were allowed to have a vote and got it wrong.

  6. Some wag on Twitter said that Charles may be able to break Elizabeth II’s record of most number of PM’s before the next general election is even held.

  7. A general election becomes more likely soon,but a Tory leadership contest to replace the deposed PM will ensue imminently. The Tories have been in power for a long drawn 12 years now, and seem to have run out of ideas. Austerity, Brexit, Big State Conservatism etc. have all rocked the boat, fomented rebellion and discontent and rendered economic growth and productivity comatose. I think the British are now looking for somebody full, uncharismatic and technocratic to just bring about a semblance of stability. A default man. Sir Keir Starmer fits the bill

    1. I don’t know about Keir Starmer… a lot of British women are pretty incensed about his stance on the trans issues in the UK and there could be a lot of donkey votes from them since they also hate the tories too. I would not be so sure of a utter Labour victory

  8. The Tory party still enjoys a majority in the House of Commons, so they remain the party in power, because Britain is a parliamentary democracy. Truss (and all her predecessors) was Prime Minister purely because she became the leader of the party with the majority.

    Having said that, the mandate of any Prime Minister who has not actually come to office having won a general election in their own right is questionable at best and non-existent at worst. Johnson gained such a mandate by winning the December 2019 general election. Truss was chosen as Johnson’s replacement by a few thousand Tory party members, not by the entire nation. And now we’re going to get another Prime Minister foisted on us by the same highly unrepresentative and extremist self-appointed clique.

    The Tories could cling to power until the end of 2024, assuming that they can keep their parliamentary majority. That might ebb away in by-elections, of course, but 35 Tory MPs would need to quit in order for that to happen.

  9. Because we vote for a party rather than for a Prime Minister, the PM is (in practice) always the leader of the party with the most seats in Parliament. If a PM resigns, the party simply chooses a new leader and that person automatically becomes PM. I’m 57 and have never seen a debacle on this scale. It’s the kind of thing we like to mock other countries for.
    A general election happens every five years and we aren’t due one until Jan 2025. An election can be called earlier but only by the government, and since they are very behind in the polls, it’s unlikely they would do that. However, we are in uncharted territory, to some extent. If there is huge public pressure for an election, the government might feel they have to call one for the sake of national stability. Likewise if the new Tory leader/PM is unable to quell the infighting in his or her own party.
    Kier Starmer, Labour leader, is centre left and pretty sensible, and would do better at running the country than the current govt, although obviously that’s a low bar. His is popular with MPs in his own party, less so with party members nationwide, who always tend to be further to the left than the parliamentary party.

      1. Angela Rayner, Anneliese Dodds, Rachel Reeves, Shabana Mahmood, Yvette Cooper, Bridget Phillipson…not sure as to your point.

        1. He was asked if only women had a cervix and couldn’t give a straight answer, finally settling for “I don’t think that’s right”. David Lammy (now the shadow foreign secretary) called women who believe that men cannot become women by saying the magic words “I am a woman” and thereby access single-sex female spaces “dinosaurs” . Hence the many dinosaur emojis in gender-critical women’s Twitter handles.

          Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, and the Scottish National Party all prioritise the demands of men who identify as women above the rights of actual women, which is why the “Respect my sex if you want my X” (on a ballot paper) was launched.

  10. Does this increase the chances of a Labour government? And, if so, do they have a good candidate for PM?

    The reason that Labour lost the last election was because they had surged to the far left and seemed more concerned with wokery and snuggling up to Palestinian terrorists than putting forward a sensible agenda. The Tory victory was about people voting against Labour and putting a peg on their noses while voting Conservative.

    1. A constitutional monarchy may be a bit anachronistic these days but it does have the merit that one can get rid of the head of government relatively easily while still maintaining the head of state and not cause a constitutional crisis.

      1. I was referring specifically to the newness of it, after a lifetime of his mum (though it’s true I’m no fan of monarchy either).

        1. I find it hard too as I live in Canada and now we will have to look at Charles on our money and stamps and on the wall in government offices. But it’s orders of magnitude better than ever having to look at a previous American president’s picture.

          1. I believe the Canadian Government has said it plans not to change the currency. Elizabeth appeared only on coins and $20 bills, so it is not that the currency “has” to bear the monarch’s image to be legal tender. A wag might say that our $10 bill is good only for buying movie tickets.

    1. Yes, but in unusual circumstances. The Tories under Stanley Baldwin were returned in 1935. Baldwin stood down in 1937. He was succeeded by Neville Chamberlain ( whom many of you may be aware of ( Munich and a certain piece of paper). Chamberlain lost a Cabinet vote of Confidence in 1940 due to his handling of the War, principally the Norway debacle and was replaced by Churchill. Parliament and the King agreed that elections would be postponed until the end of the War. The subsequent election took place in July 1945. The Tories under Churchill lost to Labour under Atlee who had been Churchill’s Depute during the War years in the National Coalition.

  11. The problem for the Tories is finding a leader whom a majority of the party can get behind. The protracted election contest over the summer, which Truss eventually won, exposed bitter divisions between the factions within the party.

    The few grownups left in the Parliamentary party have mostly ruled themselves out. The names being bandied about include Braverman, Badenoch, Mordaunt, and (heaven forfend) Johnson again. None seems likely to be able to unite their party, let alone the country. It is entirely possible that, whoever is chosen, disaffected Tory backbenchers will cause enough trouble to hamper the new PM in getting their programme through. Then a general election would be the only way forward.

    1. Aren’t you overlooking one obvious name, the one who did, after all, get the most support from MPs in the recent Tory leadership election?

      1. Well, Rishi’s probably the best qualified potential candidate. But he’s very divisive within the Tory party out in the sticks. They all make out that this is because he stabbed Boris in the back; I suspect that in part it’s (whisper) because he’s a brown man.

        And since it seems likely that the Tory members will still get a say, outrageous and undemocratic as this is, if he is a candidate I predict that he will lose once again.

  12. I am just amazed that an opposition party didn’t have a playbook ready to go. Sticking to a party pledge of cutting taxes in changed circumstances is just silly. I am afraid we will see the same from the GOP.

    1. Labour are riding high in the polls at the moment mostly because they have chosen to say very little. If electioneering starts in earnest I expect the political differences between the various ‘wings’ of Labour will erupt into public awareness and undermine their chances.

      Having said that, Labour tend to be more left wing than the USA Democrats and the Conservatives less right wing than the USA Republicans, so it will be an interesting experience to watch the next General Election since neither party has won the support of ordinary voters.

  13. The reason for her resignation goes to show the high integrity requirement in British politics. Hoe we get some if that in US politics

  14. As comment #11 points out, the Tories’ large current majority in Parliament can be credited to the behaviors of Jeremy Corbyn and his cohort in the Labour Party. With its present leadership, Labour seems to have learned that lesson, and our Democratic Party would do well to absorb it as well. It is also evident that Britain’s Conservative Party could give some lessons to our GOP. As a result of intra-party relationships, the Tories installed an airhead as PM, and once she revealed her qualities (which affected the financial markets), they moved swiftly to correct this blunder. Our GOP, in contrast, turns its blunders into an operating principle. If news of Liz Truss’ defenestration ever reaches them (perhaps via Fox video comic books), they may suggest that the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs was “rigged” by Venezuelan and Italian electronic magic.

  15. The underlying problem is insoluble as it stands, and is political in nature. For the last ten years the Conservative party has gone from being mainly right of centre, with a few extreme right wingers, to the reverse, though it’s evident that the extreme right is an example of ‘mob rule’ at work, in that it depends on undemocratic methods, as it is in reality in the minority.

    These ultra right wingers were what brought about Brexit, something that was voted for by a very narrow majority of the population. Those who were against leaving the EU put up a pretty miserable defence of their position, and were totally outgunned by a mendacious, self serving, minority who saw short term personal financial gains for themselves, and bugger the public interest. Dissenting views, both before and after the referendum, were dismissed as fearmongering by the ‘remoaners’, and almost no attention was given to the very real and actual problems that would be caused by Brexit (as anyone travelling abroad now will confirm!). The Tory party is now attached by an umbilical cord to these policies. It’s political suicide to suggest rejoining the EU (which ultimately we will have to do), and Tory MPs realise that, no matter their personal views, they must go with the tide. This right wing tide isn’t just Brexit, but extends to all the silly nonsense that ultra libertarians believe, and hence Truss’s (and Kwarteng’s) stupid budget for the rich.

    The trouble is that British people aren’t ready for this. They are used to a state that is social in nature (I’m avoiding using the word socialist), and are happy that the wealthy are taxed a bit more, that we have a relatively good health system, that people are helped when they fall on hard times, or are otherwise vulnerable. Yes, they’ve been fed the propaganda of immigration being a scourge, that we’ll be swamped by foreigners, but then we complain that we can’t get decent service in bars, restaurants, or hotels, or that our crops rot away in fields because they can’t get picked.

    The result is that as long as the Tory party is in office it matters not at all who is leader. Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor is, in any event, de facto Prime Minister, and he’s one of those who is actually trying to introduce a level of economic competence. Trouble is he will then have to work with a PM who is going to be a puppet of the right wing, if not actually a right winger, and his actions are going to be fought tooth and claw for the rest of this Parliament. In short, there’s going to be no progress for the economy until a new, and competent, government is elected to office.

    1. Thanks, Geoff, for an intelligent and fairly concise summary. As a middle of the road Lib-Dem, I despair for our country, and would happily settle for Keir Starmer right now. My main worry at the next general election is that Labour have to form a coalition with the Scot Nats to get a majority, thus giving Nicola leverage for an independence referendum, which could be disastrous for GB.

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