Thu, 20 October 2022 at 3:04 pm
A new prime minister will be chosen next week after Liz Truss announced her resignation.
After insisting less than 24 hours earlier she is a “fighter, not a quitter”, the Conservative party leader stood at a podium outside 10 Downing Street on Thursday to say her brief time in the top job will come to an end.
There are now growing calls for an early general election.
Liz Truss will still have to meet the King in person to formally tender her resignation, as is tradition.
This will take place immediately before the monarch asks her successor, also in person, to form a government.
Charles as sovereign plays an important constitutional role in the appointment of a new prime minister.
The Royal Encyclopedia states that the appointment of a prime minister is “one of the few remaining personal prerogatives of the sovereign”.
It says that, in the normal course of events, the monarch does not act on advice nor need to consult anyone before calling upon the leader with an overall majority of seats in the House of Commons to form a government.
But the monarch is guided by constitutional conventions and can seek advice from the outgoing prime minister, any other political leader, senior privy counsellors, or whomever they please within the limits of prudence and caution.
The King spoke to Liz Truss on the phone, when she informed him she was resigning, the same day as holding the first credentials presentations of his reign at Buckingham Palace.
Credentials presentations are audiences with newly appointed ambassadors or high commissioners who hand over their letters of credence or commission to the monarch.
Charles welcomed the Ukrainian ambassador Vadym Prystaiko and the High Commissioner for Pakistan Moazzam Ahmad Khan on Thursday.
He also later held an audience with the president of the Togolese Republic, Faure Gnassingbe.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey told the PA news agency: “Liz Truss trashed our economy and before her Boris Johnson failed our country.
“The Conservatives have shown time and time again that they are not fit to govern our great country.
“We don’t need another Conservative prime minister lurching from crisis to crisis, letting the British people down, increasing their mortgages, not tackling the economic problems.
“The only way we are going to sort this out is if the Conservative MPs for once do their patriotic duty and work with the opposition to get the general election our country needs to let the British people have their say.”
Sir Keir Starmer said: “The risk at the moment is continuing with this chaos, not having a stable Labour government.
“So that’s why there needs to be a general election.
“We can’t just allow the Tory party to keep putting up the next candidate in the middle of this chaos.
“There is a choice, there’s a Labour Party that’s capable of stabilising the economy, has a clear plan and the public are entitled to choose between that stable Labour government and this utter chaos.
“We are ready to form a government, to stabilise the economy and implement a real plan for growth, for living standards, to help people through a cost-of-living crisis.
“And that’s the choice now, a stable Labour government or this utter chaos from the Conservatives.”
Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Peter Kyle said the Prime Minister’s resignation spells more “uncertainty” for Northern Ireland.
The Government has been insisting that another Assembly election will be called in a matter of days, if powersharing is not restored.
Mr Kyle tweeted: “Northern Ireland has suffered enough from Tory neglect.
“At this critical time, with assembly elections looming and crucial negotiations ongoing, the Tories plunge Northern Ireland into yet more uncertainty.”
He said his party “stands ready to be the honest broker Northern Ireland needs”.
Professor Richard Toye, from the University of Exeter, said: “Liz Truss had a difficult hand and played it appallingly, resulting in her becoming the shortest serving British prime minister in history.
“Her tenure deserves to be remembered as more than the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question, however, because it symbolised the logical outcome of a broader crisis that for years has gripped the Conservative Party and the UK political system more generally.
“Liz Truss may not be remembered as the person who definitively killed the Tories as a political force.
“That honour will perhaps fall to her successor.”
Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, said: “This has been a complete and utter failure of government, with everyone in this country now having to pay the price.
“The complete lack of leadership is preventing decisions and actions from being taken to deal with the many challenges we are facing and help people over what is going to be a very difficult winter.
“Unfortunately, the deep and intractable divisions within the Government means that any successor put forward will face the same set of challenges.
“A general election is now the only way to end this paralysis.”
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Paddick accused the Government of treating the public with “contempt”.
He said: “Now two prime ministers have resigned, how can this Government continue to treat the electorate with contempt by refusing to call a general election?
“When will Conservative MPs do their patriotic duty and put country before party and trigger a general election?”
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory 1922 Committee, was vague about whether one or two candidates would be likely to run for the Conservative Party leadership.
He told reporters: “The party rules say there will be two candidates unless there is only one candidate.”
Asked what happens if one candidate drops out, Sir Graham said: “If there is only one candidate, there is only one candidate.”
Pressed on whose idea it was to truncate the process into one week, he said: “I think it’s a matter on which there is a pretty broad consensus”.
Sir Graham also said: “It certainly is not the circumstances I would wish to see.”
Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the PA news agency “it’s time to get real” when asked about Liz Truss’s resignation.
Former Cabinet minister Michael Gove will not stand for the Tory leadership, allies said.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “What a mess, this is not just a soap opera at the top of the Tory party, it’s doing huge damage to our economy and to the reputation of our country.
“The public are paying with higher prices, with higher mortgages, so we can’t have a revolving door of chaos.
“We can’t have another experiment at the top of the Tory party.
“There is an alternative and that’s a stable Labour government and the public are entitled to have their say and that’s why there should be a general election.”
Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, Lady Smith of Basildon, weighed in on the “utter shambles” of the Government chaos, calling for a general election.
She told the upper house: “Crisis after crisis just heaped on this Government, yet who is paying the price for that?
“It’s the people of this country, who are seeing their prices on food go up, they’re seeing increased bills on fuel, they don’t know what’s happened to their mortgage payments.
“And the Government thinks the answer to all this is to shuffle the deckchairs on the Titanic.
“This is not a game of pass the parcel, where the office of prime minister is in the personal gift of the Conservative Party, who can just keep passing it on when it’s Buggins’ turn. That’s not how it works.”
She said the Government now has “no mandate to govern” and that the next prime minister needs the consent of the British people through a general election.
1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady has said he expects Tory members to be involved in choosing a new party leader.
Asked if the party faithful will be included in the process, he told reporters: “Well, that is the expectation.
“So the reason I’ve spoken to the party chairman and I discussed the parameters of a process is to look at how we can make the whole thing happen, including the party being consulted, by Friday next week.”
Sir Graham added: “I think we’re deeply conscious of the imperative in the national interest of resolving this clearly and quickly.”
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a tweet: “The debacle of Liz Truss’ short-lived premiership is a symptom of a broken economic system and a trashed democracy.
“We will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis — and ordinary people will pay the price — until we finally build a society for the many, not the few.”
Sir Graham told reporters: “I have spoken to the party chairman Jake Berry and he has confirmed that it will be possible to conduct a ballot and conclude a leadership election by Friday the 28th of October.
“So we should have a new leader in place before the fiscal statement which will take place on the 31st.”
The new prime minister will be in place before the fiscal statement on October 31, Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said.
Ireland’s finance minister Paschal Donohoe has said he is looking forward to continuing Ireland’s close friendship with the UK in the wake of Liz Truss’s resignation as Prime Minister.
He said: “The political and the economic stability of the United Kingdom is a vital ingredient in the economic prospects of Ireland and indeed of Europe, and the Government of the United Kingdom has reaffirmed their commitment to budgetary and economic standards.
“Ireland has always been a close friend of the United Kingdom and of the government of the United Kingdom, and even during tough and challenging moments during the Brexit process.
“We always affirmed the value of that close friendship and we really look forward in the time ahead to continuing that close friendship and co-operation with the new prime minister of the United Kingdom.”
Former MEP David Bannerman said it is “Boris or oblivion”. In a tweet, he wrote: “I backed @trussliz against Rishi & am v sorry for her. She tried to do right things & unleashed same kind of coup Boris faced. But to me only sensible course of action now is to Bring Back Boris. I will be fully supporting his return. MPs must understand: it’s Boris or oblivion.”
Lawyer, vlogger and campaigner Peter Stefanovic said on Twitter: “This is not just about the Conservative party losing confidence in the Prime Minister. It’s about the whole country having lost all confidence in the conservative party. Truss had no mandate from the country & neither will next PM (the 3rd in four months!). Democracy demands a GE”
The UK’s top business group, which represents 190,000 firms, says the next prime minister must restore confidence and stability following Ms Truss’s resignation after 44 days in office.
Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI, said: “The politics of recent weeks have undermined the confidence of people, businesses, markets and global investors in Britain. That must now come to an end if we are to avoid yet more harm to households and firms.
“Stability is key. The next prime minister will need to act to restore confidence from day one.
“They will need to deliver a credible fiscal plan for the medium term as soon as possible, and a plan for the long-term growth of our economy.”
Yields on gilts – UK government bonds – have eased slightly in response to Ms Liz Truss’s decision to resign.
UK 30-year gilt yields, which fall as price improve, fell back by 0.44% to 3.86% on Thursday.
Yields had dropped even further shortly before the Prime Minister’s statement at 1.30pm but sprang back slightly.
Journalist and author Otto English says Ms Truss’s premiership “was a week shorter than the Conservative party leadership contest”.
Reacting to Ms Truss’s resignation, shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry told the PA news agency: “We should have a general election – it is the only thing that we should have.
“They can’t patch this up, they have caused a crisis.
“This crisis was made in Downing Street, working people are paying the price and we need a government that people can trust.
“The only way we’re going to get any order or sense is to have a Labour government.
“We should have a general election, let the people choose.”
Politician-turned-political commentator Nigel Farage said in a tweet: “So that’s it. After 45 days as PM, Truss goes. The replacement will be a stich (sic) up by Tory MPs. The party is now Labour-lite and serves no purpose.”
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price and Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said in a joint statement: “This chaotic circus is proof once and for all that Westminster will never work for Wales.
“Only Plaid Cymru can offer the communities of Wales a better future.
“Another prime minister gone but there is still no recognition that it’s not the individuals in Downing Street that’s the problem, but the fundamental contradictions within the Tory party as a whole.
“Brexit lies created a vacuum of accountability in Westminster – and allowed talentless zealots to seize the reins of power without an inkling how to use them.
“People in Wales are looking aghast at the chaos after being lectured for years that we need Westminster to survive.
“We urgently need a General Election so that the people of Wales can reject this Westminster chaos at the ballot box.
“There is a duty now on Welsh Conservative MPs to recognise that their Government’s time is up. Unless they do so, this disgraceful chaos will drag on indefinitely.”
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said she will “keep calm and carry on” and encouraged others to do the same.
Asked in the Commons about Ms Truss’s resignation and the state of the Government, Ms Mordaunt said: “I am going to keep calm and carry on – and I would suggest everyone else do the same.”
The pound has lifted on the announcement that Ms Truss is stepping down following a volatile past 24 hours for the currency amid political turmoil.
Sterling shot up to 1.13 US dollars before the speech as markets anticipated that Ms Truss would resign, before paring back gains slightly to stand 0.4% higher at 1.126 US dollars after her resignation statement.
Meanwhile, allies of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he would not be standing for the Tory leadership.
Ms Truss will be the shortest serving prime minister in British history.
She has currently clocked up 44 full days in the role – a long way behind the next shortest premiership, that of Tory statesman George Canning, who spent 118 full days as PM in 1827 before dying in office from ill health.
Ms Truss was to have overtaken this number of days on January 3 2023.
But instead she will fall short by more than two months, with the next prime minister due to be elected within the next week.
The calls for a general election are quickly becoming a chorus – from opposition parties at least.
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said a general election was a “democratic imperative” after the resignation of the Prime Minister.
“There are no words to describe this utter shambles adequately,” the First Minister said on Twitter.
“It’s beyond hyperbole – & parody. Reality tho is that ordinary people are paying the price.
“The interests of the Tory party should concern no-one right now.
“A general election is now a democratic imperative.”
Sir Keir Starmer wants an immediate general election.
The Labour leader said: “The Conservative Party has shown it no longer has a mandate to govern.
“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-of-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.
“Each one of these crises was made in Downing Street but paid for by the British public. Each one has left our country weaker and worse off.
“The Tories cannot respond to their latest shambles by yet again simply clicking their fingers and shuffling the people at the top without the consent of the British people. They do not have a mandate to put the country through yet another experiment; Britain is not their personal fiefdom to run how they wish.
“The British public deserve a proper say on the country’s future. They must have the chance to compare the Tories’ chaos with Labour’s plans to sort out their mess, grow the economy for working people and rebuild the country for a fairer, greener future. We must have a chance at a fresh start. We need a general election – now.”