By Emma Emeozor with Agency reports
British Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned yesterday after her party members revolted against her after 45 days in office.
Reports said the Conservative Party, which holds a big majority in parliament and need not call a nationwide election for another two years, will elect a new leader by Oct. 28. That contest is likely to pit ex-finance minister Rishi Sunak against Penny Mordaunt, but could also see the return of former premier Boris Johnson, who was ousted in July when his ministers resigned en masse to force him out of power.
Truss becomes the shortest-serving Prime Minister in the history of Britain. Her trouble started after an economic programme that roiled financial markets, pushed up living costs for voters and enraged much of her own Tory party. A series of U-turns on her economic plan sapped her of authority. In a brief speech outside Downing Street, Ms Truss said the Conservative Party had elected her on a mandate to cut taxes and boost economic growth.
But given the situation, Ms Truss said: “I recognise that I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.” Speaking outside the door of her Number 10 Downing Street office, Truss accepted that she had lost the faith of her party and said she would step down next week, becoming the shortest-serving prime minister in British history.
“I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party,” said Truss, who was supported only by her husband with her aides and loyal ministers noticeably absent.
With her support, finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng had unveiled £45bn of tax cuts in her third week. But it was widely blamed for reducing the value of the pound and panicked financial markets. Almost all of it has now been reversed and Kwarteng was sacked as chancellor.
On Wednesday she lost the second of the government’s four most senior ministers, faced laughter as she tried to defend her record to parliament and saw her lawmakers openly quarrel over policy, deepening the sense of chaos at Westminster.
The sight of yet another unpopular prime minister being driven out of office underscores just how volatile British politics has become since the 2016 vote to leave the European Union unleashed a battle for the direction of the country. With the economy heading into recession and inflation running at a 40-year high, millions of Britons are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis.
New finance minister Jeremy Hunt has ruled himself out of the race for a new prime minister. He is now racing to find tens of billions of pounds of spending cuts to try to reassure investors and rebuild Britain’s fiscal reputation. He is due to deliver a new budget on Oct. 31.
Truss became Britain’s fourth prime minister in six years after being elected in September to lead the Conservative Party by its members, not the broader electorate, and with support from only around a third of the party’s lawmakers. She had promised tax cuts funded by borrowing, deregulation and a sharp shift to the right on cultural and social issues.
Appointed on Sept. 6, she was forced last week to sack her finance minister and closest political ally, Kwasi Kwarteng, and abandon almost all her economic programme after their plans for vast unfunded tax cuts crashed the pound and British bonds. Approval ratings for her and the Conservative Party collapsed.