Liz Truss has resigned as Prime Minister after just 45 days - the shortest term in office in UK history.
Her authority was undone by a disastrous mini budget, subsequent humiliating u-turns and the sacking of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Chaos over a fracking vote on Wednesday night (19 October) proved to be the final nail in the coffin.
The second Conservative leadership election of 2022 will now take place to appoint her successor. Favourites for the role include Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Boris Johnson.
While it is a dire situation for a country that is in the midst of a major cost of living crisis, there has been some light relief in the form of a lettuce. The Daily Star pitted Truss’s survival against the leafy vegetable. But how did the competition end? Here’s what you need to know.
What is Liz Truss vs lettuce?
The story of the lettuce began when The Economist wrote a brutal column about Liz Truss on 11 October. It had become clear by that point, the magazine wrote, that her authority lay in tatters.
“Take away the ten days of mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and she had seven days in control. That is roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce,” it said.
Tabloid newspaper the Daily Star picked up on the comment, and soon afterwards a 60p Tesco wholehead lettuce appeared on a 24-hour livestream video opposite a framed picture of Liz Truss in a bid to see which would last longest.
Over the ensuing nine days, the lettuce gained a wig, British flags and - after Suella Braverman made a dig at the so-called “tofu-eating wokerati” - a block of tofu.
The Daily Star’s viral stunt became a global joke. US news organisations including The New York Times and NBC News picked it up, while even Vladimir Putin is rumoured to have watched its progress on Russian state TV.
How did the lettuce beat Liz Truss?
After a chaotic vote on fracking that led to confusion among Conservative MPs in the House of Commons late on Wednesday (19 October), calls for Truss to resign grew and grew. Bookmakers odds on the PM beating the lettuce were slashed.
Then, after public calls for her resignation from backbench Tory MPs, Truss announced her resignation just after 1.30pm on Thursday (20 October). There were immediate jubilant scenes on the lettuce livestream.
A crown was placed on the lettuce’s head and the picture of Liz Truss was placed face down. A bottle of prosecco was then cracked open and poured into a glass for the salad vegetable to enjoy. After a solemn rendition of the national anthem, disco lights were switched on and thumping dance music began to play. At least 22,000 people watched the event unfold.
It is unclear what the lettuce will do now it has secured victory over the PM. With its leaves browning somewhat, a well-deserved holiday in a compost bin may be long overdue.