Liz Truss resigns to become shortest serving UK prime minister in history

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Watch in full: Liz Truss resigns as PM after just 45 days in Downing Street

Liz Truss has confirmed she is resigning as prime minister after 45 days in office, becoming the shortest serving PM in UK history.

Truss has faced calls to quit over the disastrous fallout from her mini-budget, with pressure ramping up ever since following a series of screeching U-turns that saw party unity disintegrate.

In a brief statement outside Downing Street, Truss said: "I recognise… given the situation I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.”

She confirmed she had spoken to the King in order to inform him that she was stepping down.

Truss will still need to meet the King in person to formally tender her resignation, as is tradition, and this will happen immediately before the monarch asks her successor, also in person, to form a government.

Her successor as prime minister will be chosen within a week.

Prime Minister Liz Truss, with her husband Hugh O'Leary, arrives to make a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, where she announced her resignation as Prime Minister. Picture date: Thursday October 20, 2022.
Prime minister Liz Truss with her husband Hugh O'Leary head to the podium outside 10 Downing Street ahead of her resignation speech. (PA)
Prime Minister Liz Truss making a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, where she announced her resignation as Prime Minister. Picture date: Thursday October 20, 2022.
Liz Truss announces her resignation as prime minister outside Number 10. (PA)

Will there be a general election?

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for an immediate general election in the wake of her resignation.

He said: “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.”

Liz Truss, with her husband Hugh O'Leary, making a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, where she announced her resignation as Prime Minister. Picture date: Thursday October 20, 2022.
Liz Truss quits as PM during a statement outside Number 10. (PA)

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has also called for a general election, tweeting: “We don’t need another Conservative prime minister lurching from crisis to crisis."

“We need a general election now and the Conservatives out of power.”

What happens next?

The PM's departure sparked a scramble among Tory MPs to find a successor who can unify the warring factions of the party.

Candidates to replace Truss will need to secure at least 100 nominations from Conservative MPs by 2pm on Monday, 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady confirmed on Thursday afternoon.

If only one candidate reaches this threshold, they will become PM.

If more than one does so, Conservative Party members will pick the winner in an online ballot.

Tory party chairman Jake Berry said the board of the Conservative Party met at 4pm and, in conjunction with the 1922 Committee, had decided on the process.

“We have decided that if the party should decide to put forward two candidates there would be an expedited, binding, online vote of Conservative Party members to choose its next leader,” Berry said.

The process will be considerably speedier than the previous leadership contest, which ran from 13 July to 5 September – longer than Truss' time in Number 10.

Chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives Sir Graham Brady makes a statement outside the Houses of Parliament, London, after Liz Truss announced her resignation as Prime Minister. Picture date: Thursday October 20, 2022.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, met Liz Truss shortly before she resigned as PM. (PA)

Truss's leadership rival and former chancellor Rishi Sunak is understood to be a candidate, as is minister Penny Mordaunt.

New chancellor Jeremy Hunt has ruled himself out of the race.

How Truss lost her grip on power

Truss has 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.

On Wednesday, Truss insisted she was a “fighter, not a quitter”, but the pressure from her own mutinous MPs proved to be too much.

On Thursday, Sir Graham Brady, the powerful chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers was seen arriving at No 10 in what appeared to be a hastily-arranged meeting.

Deputy prime minister Thérèse Coffey and party chairman Jake Berry were also seen entering the building.

Things unravelled in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night after Suella Braverman resigned as home secretary over a breach of ministerial rules relating to sending an official document from her personal email.

File photo dated 18/10/22 of Home Secretary Suella Braverman arriving in Downing Street in London, ahead of a cabinet meeting. Braverman has departed as home secretary, a Home Office source confirmed. Issue date: Wednesday October 19, 2022.
Suella Braverman quit as home secretary on 19 October. (PA)

However the real reason for her departure is understood to be a blazing row with Truss over immigration policy.

Braverman raised “serious concerns” about the government in her resignation letter, raising questions over Truss's competence and “commitment to honouring manifesto commitments, such as reducing overall migration numbers”.

There were also ugly scenes in the Commons on the same evening as Tory MPs were ordered to vote against a Labour motion on fracking.

The chaotic night prompted more Tory MPs to publicly call for the prime minister to resign.

Truss was protected from a confidence vote during the first 12 months of her leadership, but it quickly became clear she could not command the support of her MPs and it became impossible for her to continue.