What happened when Liz Truss was Prime Minister? Timeline of shortest-serving PM’s chaotic 44 days

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Liz Truss' time in power saw the markets crash, mortgage rates spike and tears in the House of Commons during a riotous fracking vote

Liz Truss resigned as Prime Minister after just 44 full days in office, making her the shortest serving premier in UK history.

Her time in power saw the markets crash, mortgage rates spike and tears in the House of Commons during a riotous fracking vote. Truss announced her resignation on 20 October 2022 after a time in office during which she lost the confidence of Tory MPs and the public, and oversaw economic turbulence.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Her resignation came just a little over 24 hours after she told MPs she was “a fighter, not a quitter”, but her chances of survival were slashed after chaotic scenes in the Commons followed the resignation of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary (remember that?). A year on from her arrival in Downing Street, on 6 September 2022, we look back on what happened during her time in the role?

What happened during Liz Truss’s time as Prime Minister?

5 September 2022: Liz Truss wins the Tory leadership contest and becomes the country’s next Prime Minister.

6 September: Truss becomes Prime Minister after being invited to form a new government by the Queen at Balmoral. Kwasi Kwarteng is appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer.

7 September: Truss uses her first Prime Minister’s Questions to promise to work with MPs across the House to tackle “the challenges we face” at a “vital time for our country”. She says she will set out her package of support to deal with soaring energy bills the following day.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

8 September: The PM announces a new energy price guarantee and promises support for businesses struggling with bills for six months, with targeted help for vulnerable firms beyond that. Buckingham Palace issues a statement saying doctors were concerned for the Queen’s health, with the Palace confirming her death at 6.30pm.

Liz Truss has resigned as Prime Minister after just 44 full days in officeLiz Truss has resigned as Prime Minister after just 44 full days in office
Liz Truss has resigned as Prime Minister after just 44 full days in office | Mark Hall/NationalWorld

9 September: The King holds his first in-person audience with Truss at Buckingham Palace.

19 September: The Queen’s funeral is held at Westminster Abbey in London. Truss gives a speech.

23 September: Kwarteng announces his mini-budget, which includes multiple unfunded tax cuts, including abolishing the top rate of income tax, cancelling increases in corporation tax and national insurance, and axing the cap on bankers’ bonuses. This at a time when inflation is rampant with sky-rocketing energy prices, with no independent forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility. It was immediately followed by a sharp fall in the value of the pound against the dollar.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

26 September: Pound hits a record low against the dollar. The Treasury announces that Kwarteng will publish a "medium term fiscal plan" on 23 November, and the OBR will produce a forecast. A poll puts Labour 17 points ahead of the Tories, the biggest lead since 2001.

27 September: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) urges the government to change tack. Banks and building societies start withdrawing mortgage products over fears of interest rate rises. Nationwide says it's hiking its fixed rate mortgages by 0.9 and 1.2 percentage points the next day.

28 September: The Bank of England says the budget “will likely increase inequality” and worsen inflation. It buys a large number of government bonds to try and calm the market, and stop the potential collapse of certain pension funds. A YouGov poll shows Labour is now 33 points ahead of the Conservatives, the biggest lead since the 1990s.

29 September: Truss defends her economic plan and shrugs off the negative reaction from financial markets. Despite this, 40% of mortgage products have now been withdrawn from the market.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

1 October: On the eve of the party conference, Truss accepts that her plan “involves difficult decisions and disruption in the short term”.

2 October: Truss acknowledges mistakes over the mini-budget, but says she is standing by the tax-cutting plan. She refuses to rule out public spending cuts.

3 October: Truss and Kwarteng U-turn and abandon their plan to abolish the 45p rate of income tax for top earners.

5 October: Truss says she will “get Britain moving” as she delivers her first Tory conference speech as party leader.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

6 October: The interest rate on a two-year fixed rate mortgage rises above 6% for the first time since 2008.

10 October: Kwarteng moves his "medium-term fiscal plan" forwards from 23 November to Halloween, the date is noted.

12 October: Truss insists she will not cut spending to balance the books. Economists and the financial markets continue to question her plans.

14 October: Kwarteng is sacked, having flown back early from International Monetary Fund talks in Washington. He says he has accepted Truss’s request that he “stand aside” as Chancellor. The Prime Minister replaces him with Jeremy Hunt.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She announces she is abandoning Kwarteng’s commitment to drop the planned rise in corporation tax from 19% to 25% - even though it was a central message of her leadership campaign.

15 October: Hunt indicates the PM’s immediate economic plan is now largely defunct in a series of broadcast interviews. US President Joe Biden appears to criticise Truss’s original plan, telling reporters: “I wasn’t the only one that thought it was a mistake”.

16 October: Former minister Crispin Blunt becomes the first Tory MP to publicly call for Truss to quit. He is followed by Andrew Bridgen and Jamie Wallis.

17 October: Hunt gets rid of the bulk of the PM’s economic strategy in an emergency statement designed to calm the markets. He scales back the energy support package and ditches “almost all” the tax cuts previously announced by Kwarteng.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In a sit-down interview with the BBC’s Chris Mason, she apologises for her “mistakes” and pledges to lead the Tories into the next general election.

18 October: Downing Street sparks a backlash by indicating ministers could ditch their commitment to the pensions triple lock.

19 October: The PM declares she is a “fighter, not a quitter” and insists she is “completely committed” to the triple lock on state pensions at PMQs. Suella Braverman also quit as home secretary after sending an official document from her personal email to a fellow MP, in a serious breach of ministerial rules, but in her resignation letter she also criticised Truss’s “tumultuous” premiership.

Later on that evening, Tory MPs are told a Labour vote in the Commons seeking to ban fracking is being treated as a “confidence motion”. Deputy chief whip Craig Whittaker warns his colleagues the vote is a “100% hard” three-line whip. This indicated that the Conservatives who oppose fracking face being kicked out of the parliamentary party if they do not follow orders.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Confusion occurred when climate minister Graham Stuart told the Commons: “Quite clearly this is not a confidence vote.” Cabinet ministers Therese Coffey and Jacob Rees-Mogg were among a group of senior Tories accused of pressuring colleagues to go into the “no” lobby. Labour former minister Chris Bryant claims some MPs were “physically manhandled”.

Overnight, Downing Street says Mr Stuart was “mistakenly” told to say it was not a confidence motion, adding that Conservative MPs were “fully aware” it was subject to a three-line whip. A spokesman says the whips will speak to the Tories who failed to support the Government, and those without a “reasonable excuse” will face “proportionate disciplinary action”.

20 October: Truss quits after just 44 full days in the role. This is a long way behind the next shortest premiership, which was that of Tory statesman George Canning, who spent 118 full days as PM in 1827 before dying in office from ill health.

25 October: Rishi Sunak takes over as Prime Minister.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.