Why did Liz Truss resign? Why Prime Minister resigned, UK PM resignation explained - full speech and statement

Why did the PM hand in her notice after just 44 days in office?

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Liz Truss has resigned as Conservative Party leader following a tumultuous 44 days in office, with a new prime minister expected by the end of next week.

She signalled the end of the shortest term by any British prime minister in history on Thursday (20 October), following a disastrous financial statement, the departure of two of her most senior Cabinet colleagues, and an open revolt by Tory MPs.

Here is everything you need to know.

Why did Liz Truss resign?

In political terms, it’s almost surprising that Truss’ resignation came as late in the day as it did; why didn’t she resign sooner?

Truss’ tumultuous 44 days as Prime Minister have been unsteady to say the least. They started with her chancellor’s disastrous “mini budget” - which sent markets into a panicked frenzy and saw the pound hit its lowest ever rate against the US dollar - before we saw major U-turns on key policies, the firing of said chancellor, the stinging resignation of her home secretary, and reports of bullying amid important votes.

Current 1922 Committee rules (although these are likely to be altered in the near future) mean that leaders cannot face a vote of no confidence less than a year after a previous vote.

(Photo: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Since Truss’ election to the head of the party was seen - under current guidelines - as her first confidence vote, rebelling MPs would have had a tough time triggering such a vote any time before September 2024.

That being said, there are a number of other ways MPs can make their disdain known, and just about all of them have been exercised over the past few days.

Then there was the looming threat of mass resignations, the kind of group exodus that forced the hand of Boris Johnson and led to his own departure just a couple of months ago.

That was yet to occur here, but with key cabinet members like former Home Secretary Suella Braverman walking (although that was in response to her breaking of the ministerial code, she still managed to make her true feelings heard through her resignation letter), the spectre of Johnson’s last days in office remained.

And as letters of no confidence began landing on the desk of Sir Graham Brady, it was clear Truss’ authority within her own party was hanging on by a thread, if not torn asunder completely.

With that sort of disconnect between the party and its leader - as demonstrated in extraordinary fashion by reports of MPs being “manhandled” to toe the party line during a vote on fracking last night (19 October) - it was clear Truss’ position truly was untenable.

Truss’ resignation statement in full:

Liz Truss delivers her resignation speech on 20 October (Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)Liz Truss delivers her resignation speech on 20 October (Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)
Liz Truss delivers her resignation speech on 20 October (Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)

“I came into office at a time of great economic and international instability. Families and businesses were worried about how to pay their bills. Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine threatens the security of our whole continent. And our country had been held back for too long by low economic growth.

“I was elected by the Conservative Party with a mandate to change this. We delivered on energy bills and on cutting national insurance. And we set out a vision for a low tax, high growth economy – that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit.

“I recognise though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.

“I have therefore spoken to His Majesty The King to notify him that I am resigning as Leader of the Conservative Party.

“This morning I met the Chair of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady. We have agreed there will be a leadership election to be completed in the next week. This will ensure we remain on a path to deliver our fiscal plans and maintain our country’s economic stability and national security.

“I will remain as Prime Minister until a successor has been chosen. Thank you.”

What happens next?

The Conservatives will now race to find a replacement for Truss. Whoever that turns out to be, they will become the third leader of the party in two months.

Labour’s demands for a general election grew even louder in the wake of Truss’ departure, with their sentiments echoed by both the Lib Dems and the SNP. In the absence of a general election, the Conservatives will be on their third prime minister since Johnson’s inauguration in December 2019.

But while the Conservative remain the ruling party - for now - Tory leadership contenders will be weighing up the possibilities for taking over.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee which oversees leadership contests, stated that the process of electing a new Tory leader could be completed by 28 October, so that the new Prime Minister can be in place in time for Jeremy Hunt’s critical financial statement on 31 October.

This statement is intended to reassure the City of London that the Government has a plan to repair the nation’s finances.

He said there was an expectation that Tory members would be involved in the process but “I think we’re deeply conscious of the imperative in the national interest of resolving this clearly and quickly”.

The election to replace Boris Johnson lasted longer than Truss’s tenure as Prime Minister, paralysing the Government at a time of rising living costs.