Steph Deschamps / October 21, 2022
British Prime Minister Liz Truss finally resigned on Thursday after just six weeks in Downing Street and the British Conservatives are looking for a new leader in a country in the midst of an economic and social crisis.
Given the situation, I cannot fulfil the mandate for which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning,” said the 47-year-old leader in front of 10 Downing Street, in a very short speech.
A ballot to find a successor within the Conservative party will take place “by next week”, added the woman who became the Prime Minister to have remained the shortest time in Downing Street in modern British history, with only 44 days in office.
Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, which is responsible for organizing the Conservative Party, said the next Prime Minister will be chosen by October 28 and the election will see a maximum of two candidates compete in a much shorter process than the election that brought Liz Truss to Downing Street this summer.
“We are very conscious of the need, in the national interest, to resolve (this crisis) quickly and clearly,” he said.
On Thursday morning, the Prime Minister appeared to be still clinging to power, with a spokesman assuring that she was “working” with her finance minister Jeremy Hunt to prepare their medium-term economic plan, the day after a catastrophic day for her.
But by late morning, Ms. Truss had met with Mr. Brady. The list of Conservative MPs calling for his departure was growing by the hour.
In the midst of the cost of living crisis, which has seen millions of Britons suffer from inflation, the Conservative party is reopening an internal election to find a new leader — the fifth in six years — after the previous one was held this summer, following the resignation of Boris Johnson, against a backdrop of scandals in Downing Street and in the majority.
Who will be the candidates, as for days several names have been circulating to succeed Liz Truss, such as Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt – the minister in charge of relations with Parliament – or even Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister she replaced in September?
It was the presentation of a mini-budget on September 23, containing aid for energy bills but also massive and unfunded tax cuts, that brought about the end of Mrs. Truss. The plan sent the pound to an all-time low and sent the markets into a panic, nearly degenerating into a financial crisis without the emergency intervention of the Bank of England.
On Thursday, the pound recovered slightly against the dollar after the announcement of Liz Truss’ resignation.
Even after sacking her finance minister and close friend Kwasi Kwarteng, and then abandoning her plan, Truss was never able to recover and restore confidence in the conservative ranks. Her already low popularity plummeted in the polls.
From then on, no matter how much Liz Truss said she wanted to stay in office, it seemed impossible for her to remain in Downing Street. And even more so since the catastrophic day of Wednesday, marked by the departure of her Home Secretary Suella Braverman, and then by a melodrama in Parliament over the vote on a text that turned into a free-for-all among Conservative MPs.
The Tories have decided to avoid an early general election at a time when the Labour opposition is leading in the polls.
After Liz Truss’ announcement, their leader Keir Starmer called for a general election “now” and not at the end of 2024 or early 2025 as planned.
This political storm in one of the world’s leading powers, in the midst of the war in Ukraine, has not failed to provoke international reaction.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped the United Kingdom would “quickly” return to “stability.
Russian diplomacy mocked the announcement of Liz Truss’ resignation, saying the country had “never known such an embarrassment”.
In Godalming, a small town in Surrey south of London, Sally Sherfield, a pensioner who does not vote Conservative, welcomed her departure. “I think it’s best that she goes,” she said, although she would have preferred a general election in the hope of bringing the opposition to power.
For Carmen Harvey-Browne, a retired schoolteacher and conservative voter, the situation had become an “absolute mess” and Truss “had to go. She “wasn’t cut out for the job,” she says, saying she now has “a little more hope.”