Revealing she had informed the King of her decision, she said: ‘I cannot deliver on the mandate…. I will remain as PM until a successor has been chosen.’
Ms Truss – who insisted she was a ‘fighter not a quitter’ barely 24 hours ago – said the Tory leadership contest will be completed over the next week. Giving her valedictory statement, she was watched by husband Hugh.
Attention immediately turns to the leadership battle – with Jeremy Hunt ruling himself out within minutes. However, Penny Mordaunt’s campaign Twitter account has already fired up, while Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman are thought likely to run. Boris Johnson, currently on holiday in the Caribbean, could bid for a shock return just six weeks after he left office.
Liz Truss’s resignation statement in full
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.
The bombshelll news follows a week of carnage that saw a bewildering array of U-turns on the mini-Budget, the Chancellor and Home Secretary quit, confusion over whether the Chief Whip had followed her out of the door, and MPs wrestling in Commons voting lobbies.
Ms Truss held crisis talks with 1922 chair Graham Brady, deputy PM Therese Coffey and Tory chair Jake Berry in the building earlier, as they delivered grim message about the mood of the party.
A series of previously-loyal MPs joined calls for her to go this morning. Even supportive Cabinet ministers had been conceding the situation is ‘terminal’.
Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan was sent out to prop up the PM this morning, but would only say that ‘at the moment’ she believes Ms Truss will lead the Tories into the next election.
The main obstacle to removing Ms Truss over recent days was the lack of consensus on who should take over and what the process should be, with little appetite for a drawn-out contest.
Nadine Dorries has warned the only person who would be acceptable in a ‘coronation’ is Mr Johnson.
One idea being pushed by influential Tories is that MPs vote on a successor, but there is a very high threshold of nominations to get on the ballot.
The 1922 committee could ask candidates to agree that they will step aside if they are not in pole position when the field is whittled down to a final two. That would avoid the need for a run-off vote of the entire party membership.
A source said of the blueprint: ‘That has been put to someone very senior in the party, very, very senior.’
Events accelerated after another bout of madness at Westminster yesterday culminated in stories of tears and tantrums in Parliament, with Ms Truss allegedly engaging in a shouting match with her own enforcers.
The premier tried to force the issue by declaring that it was a matter of confidence, meaning a defeat the would have collapsed the government. But at the end of the debate a minister declared that it was not in fact a confidence vote – triggering fury from Chief Whip Wendy Morton and her deputy Craig Whittaker.
Other whips told MPs they had resigned, but after three hours of silence and frantic wrangling behind the scenes Downing Street announced they were still in post. A 1.33am statement then made clear that it had been a confidence vote, warning that around 30 MPs who abstained will be disciplined.
However, in another twist this morning, Ms Trevelyan said that it had not been a confidence vote.
The PM lost her second Cabinet heavyweight in five days after Suella Braverman resigned as Home Secretary, admitting using of her personal email to campaign against the government’s own immigration policy – but also hit out at Ms Truss for ditching key policies, suggesting she should also quit for ‘mistakes’.
The PM appointed Grants Shapps, a Rishi Sunak supporter who as late as Monday was telling media that her government was unsustainable.
As Ms Truss time in power came shuddering to an ignominious end:
- Keir Starmer has twisted the knife demanding an immediate general election in a speech to the TUC conference in Brighton;
- Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has launched an investigation into the claims of bullying during the votes last night;
- The Pound has dropped to $1.119 against the US dollar, its lowest level for a week, as markets digest the political turmoil.