Liz Truss resigns as UK Prime Minister after 45 days in office

LONDON — Liz Truss has become the shortest leader in British political history after stepping down on Thursday less than two months after taking office.

His announcement came after he attempted to implement aggressive tax cuts aimed at stimulating economic growth, but instead financial markets were significantly shaken, leading to unprecedented central bank intervention and drove his polls to an all-time low for a prime minister.

Truss, 47, lasted 45 days in office. Because Britain elects a party, not a specific leader, she will be replaced by another lawmaker from her ruling Conservative party. The Truss replacement process will take place next week.

Truss will remain prime minister until then.

“I took office at a time of great economic and international instability,” Truss said in a brief statement outside 10 Downing Street in London. “I recognize, given the situation, that I cannot deliver the term for which I was elected by the Conservative Party.”

The previous shortest term for a British leader was Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who served for a year and a day, from 1963 to 1964.

Why did Liz Truss quit? The move follows weeks of unrest

Truss’s resignation comes after several weeks of political chaos during which she abandoned most of her economic policies.

Truss sacked Kwasi Kwarteng, her close ally and finance minister, on October 14, even as he implemented the growth agenda she had campaigned for.

Kwarteng was replaced by Jeremy Hunt, a former foreign secretary who was beaten to the post of prime minister by Boris Johnson in 2019. Hunt also failed to make a runoff in the Conservative Party process which has selected Truss.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIZ TRUSS: She is inspired by Margaret Thatcher

Since she took office, several polls have shown the opposition Labor Party likely to win a landslide victory in a general election. Under UK political rules, the Conservative Party must call an election by January 2025.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her resignation after just 45 days in office.

Who could be the next prime minister?

Five names have already emerged:

Rishi Sunak

Sunak is the favorite, according to betting markets and news reports. Sunak, 42, lost to Truss when she became prime minister on September 6. Sunak was Johnson’s finance minister. Before embarking on a political career, Sunak worked for Goldman Sachs and at a hedge fund. He met his wife, the daughter of the co-founder of Infosys, one of India’s biggest tech companies, while studying for an MBA at Stanford University. The couple have an estimated wealth of $1 billion, according to The Sunday Times Rich List, an annual gauge of the UK’s 1,000 richest individuals and families. Sunak served in Johnson’s cabinet as finance minister.

Penny Mordaunt

Mordaunt, 49, leader of the House of Commons, was once considered the lawmaker most likely to succeed Johnson. She has been a Member of Parliament since 2010 and has served as Trade Minister. She also served as Minister for Local Government and was the first woman appointed Minister for the Armed Forces. Mordaunt was one of the leaders of the voter-approved ‘Brexit’ referendum in 2016, which led to Britain’s separation from the EU. She is a reservist in the Royal Navy.

Jeremy Hunt

Hunt, 55, is another longtime minister with leadership ambitions. He appears to have already ruled himself out as prime minister, but a week has become a long stretch in British politics lately, so he could find a way to reassert himself in the contest. Tim Bale, a politics professor at Queen Mary University of London, described Hunt as the “Mitt Romney of British politics” in 2019, a reference to the Utah senator known for his professionalism and lack of political charisma.

Ben Wallace

Wallace, 52, is Britain’s defense secretary and has been applauded at home and abroad for his strong support for Ukraine as it fights off a Russian invasion. Wallace backed Truss when she ran for prime minister, which could work against him.

Boris Johnson

Johnson, 58, did not leave office himself until September 6, but his name has never been far from the headlines as a possible candidate for a comeback. Johnson is still highly regarded by members of the Conservative Party even though he stepped down after a series of scandals related to coronavirus lockdowns. Johnson did not say if he would return to work. The Times (of London) reports that Johnson is considering entering the contest.

What happens next?

  • Mr Graham Brady, The head of the 1922 committee, a group of influential Conservative Party lawmakers who determine party rules, said he expects a new prime minister to be announced by October 28. Truss was chosen by ordinary members of the Conservative Party, around 81,000 of them. Brady announced late Thursday that to enter the race to be the party’s next leader and therefore prime minister, candidates must secure the support of 100 lawmakers by Monday.
  • Since there are 357 Conservative MPs, that means a maximum of three lawmakers will be on the shortlist. If three make the list, lawmakers will vote on those, and the candidate with the least support will be eliminated. If a second vote is needed, then lawmakers will be able to indicate who they prefer in what’s called an “indicative vote.” If both candidates choose to remain in the race after this run-off, the final decision will again be made by the 81,000 grassroots party members who elected Truss.
  • Opposition Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for an immediate general election, a scenario that seems unlikely given that the ruling Conservative Party, according to polls, would almost certainly lose such a vote.

What do they say?

  • Bronwen Maddox, director of Chatham House, a London-based think tank: “There is no doubt that the UK’s position in the world has been seriously damaged by this episode and by the revolving door of prime ministers ( three in one year). For the UK to regain respect – and an image of reliability – it must soon acquire another one capable of putting policy into action. These must be based on economic stability, but must also include a resolution of the relationship with Europe; much of the upheaval represents the bitter consequences of Brexit. Visas and students, defense commitments, relations with the United States and China – all of this must be clarified and constant.”
  • Richard Toye, Professor of History and Politics, University of Exeter, England: “Liz Truss had a tough hand and played it horribly to become Britain’s shortest Prime Minister ever. His tenure deserves to be remembered as more than the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question, however, because it symbolized the logical outcome of a larger crisis that for years has gripped the Conservative Party and the British political system more generally.This honor may fall to his successor.
  • President Joe Biden: “The United States and the United Kingdom are strong allies and enduring friends – and that fact will never change. I thank Prime Minister Liz Truss for her partnership on a range of issues, including holding Russia accountable for its war on Ukraine. We will continue our close cooperation with the UK Government as we work together to address the global challenges facing our nations.”
  • Liz Truss, Wednesday: “I’m a fighter, not a quitter.”
  • UK stocks, bonds and the pound all rose in value after the news of Truss’s resignation.

USA Today

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