Liz Truss becomes shortest-serving UK Prime Minister ever

A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss speaking during Prime Minister's Questions - JESSICA TAYLOR
A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions – JESSICA TAYLOR

Liz Truss has become the shortest-serving Prime Minister in British history after resigning her post outside Downing Street on Thursday.

Calls from the backbenches for Ms Truss to step down reached a crescendo this week ahead of her resignation with one long-serving MP on Thursday morning branding her position “wholly untenable”.

Ms Truss stepped down today on her 45th day in office, leaving an unenviable legacy as the shortest-serving Prime Minister in 300 years.

The record was previously held by George Canning who served for four months before his death in 1827.

The Conservative party descended into turmoil with Ms Truss losing both her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, and her Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, within a week.

The upheaval galvanised Tory MPs to call for her resignation.

“I was elected by the Conservative Party with a mandate to change this. We delivered on energy bills, and on cutting National Insurance. And we set out a vision for a low-tax, high-growth economy that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit,” she said.

“I recognise, though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.”

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt previously said her position is “wholly untenable”, adding: “And if she doesn’t understand that then I would be astonished.

“But one of the qualities she has shown is a lack of self-knowledge to this whole process, because it ought to have been clear that she did not have the capacity to lead our party and I don’t think she should have put herself up for the leadership in the first place.

“All of that has now been confirmed. It’s plain what is required. We need to effect a change, frankly, today, in order to stop this shambles and give our country the governance it needs under our constitution.”

He said there is an “obvious” choice for who should be the next prime minister – Jeremy Hunt or Rishi Sunak.

Mr Hunt announced he would not be running for leadership soon after Ms Truss’s announcement.

Meanwhile Sir Charles Walker branded the Truss Government “an absolute disgrace” and her ministers a group of “talentless people” on Wednesday night.

Sir Charles said he was “livid” at the state of the Conservative Party and warned that backbenchers were going to lose their seats because of the “utterly appalling” Truss administration.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Transport Secretary, stopped short of saying Liz Truss will definitely fight the next election at the helm of the Conservative Party when questioned on Thursday morning.

Asked if she wants Ms Truss to lead the Tories into the next election, she said: “Yes, I want her to continue delivering the really important work that we’re doing – a lot of legislation to come.”

Pressed on whether she believes this will happen for certain, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “So, we all stand firmly with her to get on with delivering the business of Government.”

Asked once more, Ms Trevelyan said: “That’s what we will be working towards. And we hope that we will be able to do that whilst delivering so that the British people understand exactly why it’s important to support the Conservative agenda.”

Put to her that she hopes, but does not believe, Ms Truss will lead the Tories into the next election, she said: “I’m a politician. I’m all about delivery.”

Wendy Morton, the Chief Whip, was forced out of Government and then reinstated on Wednesday night - Jamie Lorriman
Wendy Morton, the Chief Whip, was forced out of Government and then reinstated on Wednesday night – Jamie Lorriman

Conservative peer Lord Ed Vaizey said “the only way out of this mess” is for Ms Truss to stand down and for somebody to be appointed as prime minister by Conservative MPs.

“That is still fraught with problems,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said it is clear from Suella Braverman’s resignation letter that she regards herself as a credible candidate to be prime minister.

“And in terms of kind of shocking self-belief there will be at least five or six people out there who genuinely believe they could be the next prime minister.

“So if the Tory Party cannot have a degree of self-knowledge and realise that the only way forward is to appoint someone they’re pretty much sunk,” he said.

Lord Vaizey said that even if Rishi Sunak was appointed, he thinks there would be elements of the party who would potentially regard him as an “illegitimate” leader.

“So it is a two-stage process, both of which are extremely difficult to affect – appoint a leader and then have that leader lead a loyal parliamentary party that does what it’s asked to do over the next two years and delivers Crispin’s (Blunt) thesis of sound money and stable government,” he said.

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