Why did Liz Truss resign and how long was she Prime Minister?

Liz Truss is the shortest serving Prime Minister in British history

Liz Truss standing behind a lectern giving her resignation speech
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why did Liz Truss resign is the question many people are asking, as the Conservative Party searches for its third leader in two months.

Liz Truss has resigned as Prime Minister (opens in new tab), creating yet more political chaos for Britain - which is still getting to grips with the recent policy and personnel changes within the Government. With Labour taking a solid lead in the opinion polls, many are hoping for a change, with some asking can the King call a general election (opens in new tab)?

And while political commentators are already looking ahead to who could be the next Prime Minister, and the public wonder how much an ex-PM gets paid (opens in new tab), others are still reeling from the short time Truss spent in office. So, how long was she actually Prime Minister and why did Liz Truss resign?

Why did Liz Truss resign?

Liz Truss resigned following in-fighting in her party and a failed mini budget (opens in new tab), which culminated in chaos at a vote on fracking. On 20 October 2022, she met with Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee, which oversees the election of party leaders and votes of confidence.

The PM was not scheduled to meet with Sir Graham, and his sudden arrival at Number 10 came as the number of Conservative MPs calling for Truss to resign reached 13. However, Downing Street said the meeting had been requested by the Prime Minister herself.

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Criticism of Truss from her own party came following the delivery of the mini budget, which saw the value of the pound plummet and the Bank of England forced to step in due to the programme of tax cuts and borrowing. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also criticised the plan, saying it would "increase inequality".

The receival of the mini budget was followed by rebellion within the Tory party, forcing the Government to U-turn on the measures announced, such as the plan to scrap the 45p top rate of tax. Then Home Secretary Suella Braverman accused her colleagues of staging "a coup", which then prompted trade minister Kemi Badenoch to accuse her of using "inflammatory language".

On 19 December, a vote on fracking descended into chaos in the House of Commons, with Conservative MPs claiming they were "bullied and manhandled" into backing Liz Truss. Labour introduced the vote on whether MPs should get a say on the government's fracking plans, and Conservative whips said it was essentially a "confidence motion in the Government".

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Labour MP Chris Bryant told the BBC (opens in new tab): "People were shouting very aggressively, they were pointing at them," adding that what he saw from the Tories was "bullying like I've not seen since I was at school".

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has announced an investigation by Parliament’s authorities into the chaos surrounding the vote.

Which Tory MPs called for Truss to resign?

  • Crispin Blunt - MP for Reigate
  • Andrew Bridgen - MP for North West Leicestershire
  • Jamie Wallis - MP for Bridgend
  • Angel Richardson - MP for Guildford
  • Sir Charles Walker - MP for Broxbourne
  • William Wragg - MP for Hazel Grove
  • Johnny Mercer - MP for Plymouth Moor View
  • Maria Caulfield - MP for Lewes
  • Steve Double - MP for St Austell and Newquay
  • Sheryl Murray - MP for South East Cornwall
  • Henry Smith - MP for Crawley
  • Miriam Cates - MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge
  • Matthew Offord - MP for Hendon
  • Jill Mortimer - MP for Hartlepool
  • Ruth Edwards - MP for Rushcliffe

How long was Liz Truss Prime Minister?

Liz Truss was Prime Minister for 44 days before announcing her resignation. However, she will continue in office until a new leader of the Conservative Party is appointed.

During her time as PM, Truss has served under two monarchs, and appointed two different Chancellors and two Home Secretaries. She also visited the US to attend the UN general assembly, where she held a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and met with US President Joe Biden.

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It wasn't long after that the divides within the Conservative Party became clear, following the widely criticised budget that ultimately led to the sacking of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

The annual party conference saw Truss hit with more divisions in her party, with former minister Michael Gove saying her Government's plan to  fund tax cuts from borrowing was "not Conservative".

Shortly before Truss announced her resignation, Suella Braverman resigned as Home Secretary after sending an official document from her personal email to a fellow MP.

Who is the shortest serving Prime Minister?

Liz Truss is now the shortest serving British Prime Minister, and is expected to spend less than two months in office before the next Prime Minister is announced just a week after her resignation.

Previously, the title was held by George Canning, who was in office for 119 days before he died on August 8, 1827.

Other British PMs with short tenures include Viscount Goderich, who resigned in 1828 after 144 days, and Bonar Law, who resigned after 209 days in 1923, due to ill health.

When was the last general election?

The last general election was held in 2019, when Boris Johnson's government called a snap election to try and obtain the majority needed to get their Brexit plan through Parliament.

Before that, there was an election just two years prior in 2017, which saw Theresa May lose the Conservative Party majority and govern with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland - though her motivation for calling the snap election was to increase her majority.

The last time an election was held after the normal five year period was in 2015, which saw David Cameron's Conservative Party win a small majority of 12 seats.

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