The third female prime minister in British history has also become the shortest-serving head of government. After only 45 days in office, Liz Truss announced that she was resigning. The reason was that in just six weeks Liz Truss had set herself at odds with all the political wings of the Conservative Party.
Shortest-Serving Prime Minister in History
The newly-elected prime minister had time to present her draft budget, but her financial plan drew a stiff rebuke.
On October 20, Liz Truss made the sensational announcement that she was stepping down as British prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party. By announcing her departure on her 45th day in office, Truss became the shortest-serving prime minister in British history. Before Truss, the “record” was made by Conservative George Canning, who held the premiership for only 119 days from April to August 1827. The term of Andrew Bonar Lowe, a member of the Conservative party, who held the post of head of the Cabinet for 211 days, does not compare with the anti-record of Liz Truss.
Liz Truss is relatively young for a prime minister, only 47 years old. By comparison, Margaret Thatcher was 53 when she came to Downing Street and Theresa May was 49. By the way, Truss, Thatcher and May are representatives of the Conservative Party. Before coming to the Prime Minister's residence in Downing Street, Liz Truss was Foreign Secretary to Boris Johnson (Conservative Party). She became Prime Minister after she won the Conservative Party leader's internal party election in early September with 81,326 votes, beating her main rival, former Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) Rishi Sunak, who won 60,399 votes (57% to 43%).
Too Much Talking
Liz Truss is especially disliked in Russia after her official visit to Moscow in February, when she stated in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that she did not recognize Russian sovereignty over the Rostov and Voronezh Regions. During the meeting with Lavrov, Trass demanded that Russian Armed Forces units be withdrawn from the border with Ukraine. At first, Lavrov responded that the troops were on the territory of their country but unfortunately for Trass, the Russian foreign minister decided to clarify and asked, “You do recognize Russian sovereignty over the Rostov and Voronezh Regions, don't you?” Liz Truss didn’t hesitate a minute and replied, “Great Britain will never recognize Russian sovereignty over these regions!” At that moment, the British ambassador to Russia had to urgently intervene. Deborah Bonnert carefully explained to her foreign minister that Rostov and Voronezh are in fact the Russian territory.
However, there is a small nuance to this story. The same evening the British Embassy published a statement by Liz Truss. The head of the British Foreign Office said, “I have clearly indicated that these regions [Rostov and Voronezh] are part of sovereign Russia.” However, it is indicative that she did not consider it necessary to apologize. If a Russian, Indian, or Chinese politician had said such a thing, he or she would be eaten for breakfast but the representative of the Anglo-Saxon politician did not think it necessary to apologize.
Mrs. Minus 70%
As for the party ratings and Liz Truss's personal ratings, she showed abysmal performance.
Two days before the resignation announcement, Politico.eu wrote that “Liz Truss is now the most unpopular British prime minister in the history of opinion polls.” According to Politico.eu, the Conservatives will win third place in the general election (i.e., after Labour and the Scottish National Party).
A fresh Yougov poll of October 18 showed that 4 out of 5 British adults (i.e. 80%) have a negative view of the figure of Liz Truss as Prime Minister, with only 10% having a positive view of her. In the last week alone, Truss’ support rating has fallen by 14 points to “minus 70%” (this is the difference between opponents and supporters, when 80% are against and only 10% are for). For clarification, Boris Johnson's lowest rating mark was “minus 53%.”
The funny thing is that the Conservatives have absolutely no problem with the number of MPs in parliament. The Conservative Party has a stable majority of 357 MPs. The other issue is that there is severe food fighting within this majority, which has led to the second resignation of the prime minister in just 1.5 months. To be clear, four finance ministers have been replaced in the last four months.
The House of Commons has a total of 650 MPs. At present, the balance of power in the lower house of the British Parliament is as follows:
- Conservative Party – 357;
- The Labour Party – 200;
- Scottish National Party – 44;
- Liberal Democratic Party – 14;
- Democratic Unionist Party – 8;
- and the rest were small parties with 1 or 2 MPs.
Given that there are 650 MPs in the House of Commons, none of the competitors are able to form an alternative majority without the participation of the Conservatives.
So why is Liz Truss leaving voluntarily? In practice, it suggests that there are serious differences of opinion within the Conservative Party over the figure of the prime minister. Party pressure groups have warned Truss that she will not vote for legislation Downing Street plans to pass through the House of Commons. What's the point then of continuing to run UK Government? There is none.
This suggests that the Conservative Party is riven by internal squabbles. The previous parliamentary elections were held on December 19, 2019, at which time the Conservative Party won by a wide margin. Since members of the House of Commons are elected for 5 years, Truss had more than 2 years to rectify the situation. But as one can see, the inner-party pressure groups do not want the Conservative Party to be led into the 2024 parliamentary election by Liz Truss.
Uniting all Wings Against Herself
According to www.politico.eu, “In six short weeks, Liz Truss has succeeded in angering all wings of her party. Most now agree she can’t fight the next election.”
The publication explains that Truss won an intra-party election with promises of tax cuts and ‘growth, growth, growth.’ She ended up driving her fellow party members to the point where conservatives were writing angry messages on the party's WhatsApp chat room enraging how Truss “made a sharp 180-degree turn” on the corporate tax when it became clear that her draft budget could not be implemented. Indeed, a few days ago, Truss announced that the government would raise the corporate tax from 19% to 25% in April 2023, even though she had previously promised not to do so.
As a matter of fact, Truss used to turn on a dime saying one thing or another, but this time this habit has played a bad joke on her. So now, if Downing Street is going to raise taxes, it will be without Liz Truss.
It was this set of reasons such as brutal disillusionment with the head of government, lack of votes to support the government and disbelief in the prospects of a Conservative Party led by Liz Truss that led to the ignominious resignation of the shortest-serving Prime Minister in British history.
The departure of Liz Truss raised a lot of commnets by political experts from the U.S. and Britain.
British political commentator Quentin Peel said that Truss' resignation shows that she “has no support, so she had to go.”
“Boris Johnson was a bit of a disastrous prime minister and Liz Truss seems to have been even worse,” he said.
Political scientist Alexandra Cirone, who specializes in European Union politics, believes that the global reason for Truss' departure is that “the Conservatives have been making policy choices completely inconsistent with reality, and it has led to chaos within the UK.”
“The Conservatives have been making policy choices completely inconsistent with reality, and it has led to chaos within the UK. The next Tory prime minister – if there is one – must stand up to ideologues that have captured the Tory party and be realistic about both the economic consequences of Brexit and the policy failures of their successors.”
As for a possible successor to Liz Truss, the candidates for Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak are heard. And even former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appeared in the ratings. In this case it is worth looking closely at the figure of Ben Wallace. It was Secretary of Defense Wallace who actually took over as prime minister, according to the Evening Standard, on October 18 he urgently traveled to the United States to discuss in Washington important issues related to the security of Ukraine. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that Rishi Sunak won over 60,000 votes in the internal party elections in early September, which means that he is the favorite for many rank-and-file members of the Conservative Party.