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British Prime Minister Liz Truss resigns after six weeks in office

British Prime Minister Liz Truss resigns after six weeks in office

ENGLAND: British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit on Thursday ‒ bowing to the inevitable after a tumultuous term in which her policies triggered turmoil in financial markets and a rebellion in her party that obliterated her authority.

Friday 21 October 2022, 09:36AM


Liz Truss delivers a speech outside of 10 Downing Street in central London yesterday (Oct 20) to announce her resignation. Photo: AFP

Liz Truss delivers a speech outside of 10 Downing Street in central London yesterday (Oct 20) to announce her resignation. Photo: AFP

Making a hastily scheduled statement outside her 10 Downing Street office, Truss acknowledged that “I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.”

She is the third Conservative prime minister to resign in as many years and leaves a divided party seeking a leader who can unify its warring factions. Truss, who said she will remain in office until a replacement is chosen, has been prime minister for just six weeks.

Bitterly divided Conservative Party lawmakers have just a few days to agree on a successor, or face another leadership contest. Potential contenders include former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, who lost to Truss in the last leadership contest, House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace ‒ and Boris Johnson, the former prime minister ousted in July over a series of ethics scandals.

Whoever succeeds Truss will be the country’s third prime minister this year alone. A national election doesn’t have to be held until 2024, but opposition parties demanded one be held now, saying the government lacks democratic legitimacy.

Brought down by her economic plan

Truss bowed out just a day after vowing to stay in power, saying she was “a fighter and not a quitter”. But she couldn’t hold on any longer after a senior minister quit her government with a barrage of criticism and a vote in the House of Commons descended into chaos and acrimony just days after she was forced to abandon many of her economic policies.

Markets breathed a sigh of relief, and the pound rose about 1% to above $1.13 after Truss’s resignation.

The dramatic series of events began after Truss and her Treasury chief, Kwasi Kwarteng, unveiled an economic plan with 45 billion pounds (US$50 billion) in unfunded tax cuts that resulted in a hammering of the value of the pound and increased the cost of UK government borrowing. The Bank of England was forced to intervene to prevent the crisis from spreading to the wider economy and putting pension funds at risk.

The tumult, along with a growing number of lawmakers calling for her resignation, resulted in the replacement of Truss’ Treasury chief, multiple policy U-turns and a breakdown of discipline in the governing Conservative Party.

Thai Residential

She quit after a meeting with Graham Brady, a senior Conservative lawmaker who oversees leadership challenges. Brady was tasked with assessing whether the prime minister still has the support of Tory members of Parliament.

But by that point, the chorus of voices calling for her ouster was growing.

US, France react with regret, Russia with insults

Truss’s resignation sparked reactions from Washington to Paris and Moscow.

US President Joe Biden thanked Truss for her “partnership on a range of issues including holding Russia accountable for its war against Ukraine”, and said his country would continue to work closely with Britain.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was sad to “see a colleague go”, but noted that France wants “above all else, stability”.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he had good contact with Truss, but could not keep himself from dropping a joke about British politics. “We agreed on a whole range of views and I’m looking forward to working with who will be my next colleague. It will be the fifth one, I believe.”

Russia reacted by insulting Truss.

“Britain has never known such a.... prime minister. The helmet onboard the tank, the catastrophic illiteracy, and the Queen’s funeral right after the audience with Truss will be what’s remembered of her,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

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