Prime Minister Liz Truss’ resignation marks the shortest premiership in Great Britain’s history. With inflation and political instability plaguing the nation, a new leader will be chosen at the end of this week. So, what led to Truss’s decision?
“We [the Conservative Party] delivered on energy bills and cutting national insurance. We set out a vision for a low-tax, high-growth economy that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit,” Truss announced at Downing Street on Oct. 20. “I recognize, though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandates on which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party.”
Truss took office on Sept. 5 after winning the Conservative Party leadership. She inherited a country that is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and is in the midst of defending Ukraine in a war with Russia — economic and political instability marred her six weeks in office.
On Sept. 8, Queen Elizabeth II died, forcing the nation into a 10-day mourning period, so Parliamentary affairs were put on hold.
After returning to business as usual on Sept. 23, former U.K. Conservative Party finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng presented a mini-budget, which included tax cuts funded by government borrowing. Truss personally endorsed the plan, proving to be a fatal mistake. The pound plunged to its lowest level since 1985 and interest rates on mortgages increased. Truss later fired Kwarteng.
A survey from the IPSOS shows Truss’ approval ratings dropping from -2 at the start of her leadership to an average of -51 after the budget proposal, which is lower than when Boris Johnson left office.
Britons took to social media to voice their frustration.
“Why is Liz Truss throwing a party at Chequers today? What has she actually accomplished? She tanked the economy, made people fear about paying mortgages and bills and has not even properly apologised to the nation. Let them eat cake seems to be the only Tory-motto,” wrote Twitter user Daniela Nadj.
The Conservative Party experienced another dangerous blow on Oct. 19. Home Secretary Suella Braverman, one of Truss’s allies, resigned.
“As Home Secretary I hold myself to the highest standards and my resignation is the right thing to do. The business of government relies upon people accepting responsibility for their mistakes,” Braverman explained in a letter. “Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if everyone can’t see that we have made them, and hoping that things will magically come right is not serious politics.”
Truss announced her own resignation a day later.
Britain’s political and economic turmoil is not entirely unique. The United States and many other nations are experiencing the same level of dysfunction. For example, the United States’ midterm elections this fall are marked by the narratives of “stolen elections,” threatening the very existence of democracy.
Truss stated that she will remain in office until a predecessor is chosen. Boris Johnson was in the running but dropped out of the race on Oct. 23.
“I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do,” said Johnson in an official statement.
Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the Exchequer (the government department in charge of the management of the royal funds), is now being considered to replace her.
UPDATE: As of Monday Oct. 24, former finance minister Rishi Sunak has officially won the race to be Britain’s next prime minister. Sunak will take office as the first Hindu and person of color to become UK’s prime minister.