Liz Truss Loses Her Seat As Many Big Tory Names Get Wiped Out

(Bloomberg) -- Perhaps the most iconic moment capping the final, chaotic chapter of 14 years of Conservative rule was former Prime Minister Liz Truss losing her seat in Parliament — and she wasn’t the only big Tory name to be summarily dispatched.

Most Read from Bloomberg

She is joined by Penny Mordaunt — famous for carrying the sword at King Charles III’s coronation — and Defense Secretary Grant Shapps, two senior party figures that might have considered mounting a leadership challenge if voters hadn’t seen them off.

Election defeats of sitting Cabinet ministers are so rare in British politics that the early downfall of the Conservative defense secretary in 1997 became known by his name as the party’s “Portillo moment.” In one single night, the Tories this year suffered several such moments, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hanging on by a thread.

Here are the fallen Tories:

Liz Truss, Former Prime Minister

The shortest-tenured British prime minister, Liz Truss is now the first former premier since before the war to lose her seat in Parliament. Truss unapologetically defended her unfunded plan for growth despite the market’s rejection of it forcing her out after 49 days. She had hoped to steer the Tories toward a more-American style conservatism before her defeat to Labour.

UK General Election Results 2024 — Live Updates

Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the Commons

Tipped as one of the favorites to become the next Tory leader after Sunak, instead Penny Mordaunt lost her Portsmouth North district and has been ousted from Parliament. A former defense secretary under Theresa May, Mordaunt ran for the Tory leadership twice but lost out to Truss and then to Sunak. Her dream of running the party now looks over, a blow for some on the center-right who saw her as a key moderate voice for the future. She lost to Labour.

Grant Shapps, Defense Secretary

One of the most senior members of Sunak’s Cabinet, Grant Shapps had seen himself as a contender to lead the party in opposition if he managed to hold on in his constituency in Welwyn Hatfield. But a brief stint as defense secretary now looks like being the pinnacle of his career. He lost his seat to Labour.

Alex Chalk, Justice Secretary

Seen as one of the brighter hopes of the Tory party, Alex Chalk was a moderate who resisted calls by right-wingers to campaign to take Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights. He was defending a tiny majority of under a thousand in Cheltenham, so he was always likely to lose as the swing went against the Tories. He lost his seat to the Liberal Democrats.

Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary

A longstanding supporter of Sunak, Gillian Keegan was defending a majority of over 20,000 in the Tory heartland constituency of Chichester. She served as education secretary during crisis which saw more than 100 school buildings in England close due to safety concerns. She lost her seat to the Liberal Democrats.

Mark Harper, Transport Secretary

Having served as David Cameron’s chief whip, Mark Harper led Sunak’s efforts to cast the party as a defender of the interests of motorists. That included embracing conspiracy theories about “15-minute cities,” in which pro-environment local governments would supposedly ration the use of roads. He lost the constituency whom he had represented in parliament for almost two decades to Labour by a 0.5% margin.

Lucy Frazer, Culture Secretary

Lucy Frazer was appointed to Sunak’s cabinet in last year’s reshuffle, heading up the newly streamlined Department for Culture, Media and Sport which introducing the controversial Football Governance Bill (before it got scrapped when Parliament was disbanded for the election). She lost her seat to the Liberal Democrats by less than 500 votes.

Michelle Donelan, Technology Secretary

Appointed the first Secretary of State for Sunak’s fledgling Science, Innovation and Technology department, Michelle Donelan was a prominent figure at the UK AI Safety Summit which hosted governments and AI companies, including Elon Musk, to Bletchley Park in November. She lost the newly drawn Melksham and Devizes seat she was contesting to the Liberal Democrats.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, former Business Secretary

A die-hard supporter of Brexit, the millionaire, Eton-educated Jacob Rees-Mogg came to epitomize the brash populism of Boris Johnson’s Tory Party. He consistently voted against increasing benefits and said the victims of Grenfell Tower fire lacked common sense, was often accused of being out of touch. Still, Rees-Mogg publicly stuck with Sunak this year as other Conservative rebels pushed to replace him. He was beat by Labour.

Robert Buckland, former Justice Secretary

A close ally of Boris Johnson and justice secretary between July 2019 and September 2021, Robert Buckland has lost his seat in Swindon South to Labour. Buckland also held the position of Secretary of State for Wales before standing down from government when Sunak became prime minister in 2022. Buckland’s defeat was Labour’s first gain from the Tories as results came in overnight.

--With assistance from Jacob Reid.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.