Truss says she will step down as leader of the Conservative Party, sparking a competition to choose her successor.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss has announced she will step down as leader of the Conservative Party after her policies sparked economic turmoil and sharply divided the party.
Speaking outside her Downing Street office on Thursday, Truss said she could not deliver on the promises she made when she ran for the Conservative leader because she had lost her party’s faith.
“I cannot fulfill the mandate to which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to inform him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party,” she said in a hastily arranged statement.
Truss, who has been prime minister for only 45 days, said she will remain prime minister and party leader until a successor is chosen.
According to Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 committee, the leadership contest should be completed by October 28.
The opposition Labor party called for immediate general elections.
“The Tories cannot respond to their latest mess by simply clicking their fingers again and shaking the people at the top without the consent of the British people. We need a general election now,” opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer said in a statement.
The Conservative Party “has shown that it no longer has a mandate to govern,” he added. “After 12 years of Tory failure, the British people deserve so much better than this revolving door of chaos.”
Chaos in Parliament
On Wednesday, Truss had pledged to stay in power, saying she was “a fighter and not a quitter”. But she couldn’t hold out after a high-ranking minister left her government amid a barrage of criticism and a vote in the House of Commons just days after she was forced to give up many of her economic policies bogged down in chaos and bitterness.
A growing number of lawmakers had called for Truss to resign after weeks of unrest over her economic plan.
When unveiled by the government last month, the ‘mini-budget’ sparked financial turmoil and a political crisis that saw the replacement of the Chancellor of Truss, several policy changes and a collapse of discipline in the ruling Conservative Party.
Legislators’ anger grew after a Wednesday night vote on fracking for shale gas — a practice Truss wants to resume despite opposition from many conservatives — sparked chaotic scenes in parliament.
With Conservatives holding a large parliamentary majority, an opposition call for a ban on fracking was easily rejected. But there were displays of anger in the House of Commons, with party whips accused of using heavy-handed tactics to win votes.
There were rumors that Conservative chief Whip Wendy Morton, who is responsible for party discipline, and her deputy had resigned. Hours later, Truss’s office said both were staying in their jobs.
With opinion polls giving the Labor Party a large and growing lead, the Conservative Party decided its only hope of avoiding electoral oblivion was to replace Truss. But they remain divided over exactly who should do that.
The party is eager to avoid another divisive leadership contest, such as the one a few months ago where Truss defeated ex-Treasury chief Rishi Sunak. Potential replacements include Sunak, House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, and newly appointed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.
Whoever it is, he will become the country’s third prime minister this year. National elections do not have to be held until 2024.