British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s disastrous month in power could see her leave within days

British Prime Minister Liz Truss has vowed to lead her party to the next general election, but there is speculation she could be relocated long before she gets that chance.

The British newspaper Daily Star has asked if Mrs Truss will survive a lettuce.

There are still five days left before the lettuce goes past its sell-by date – the bet is that that’s longer than the time until Mrs. Truss resigns or is ousted by her own party.

Why is Truss in danger?

Mrs. Truss has backtracked on nearly all the tax cuts in her disastrous mini-budget – a turnaround she’s left to her new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to announce.

Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was recently slammed and there is pressure from her party to follow suit.

Didn’t she just become prime minister?

Ms Truss took over from Boris Johnson last month after knocking Rishi Sunak to the post via an internal party vote.

In an interview with the BBC, she said she would lead the party to the next general election.

But Ben Wellings, an expert on politics and international relations from Monash University, said her remaining tenure is more a matter of weeks.

It could even end before this week is up.

Liz Truss, in a navy blue dress, smiles and waves against a dark background.  She wears a red band wristwatch
Liz Truss became Prime Minister on September 6, 2022.(AP: Kirsty Wigglesworth)

What needs to be done to replace Truss?

Under Conservative Party rules, Ms Truss has a 12-month amnesty against a leadership challenge, so the best option for her is to resign, Dr Wellings said.

“Liz Truss is technically protected from a leadership challenge, but that’s not to say she couldn’t step down of her own accord, and when we say of her own accord, we mean the pressure has gotten too much,” he said.

To topple her, critics would have to change that internal party rule, but Dr. Wellings predicts that drastic change will be more likely if the party is in opposition.

“This is still an internal matter for the Conservative Party that concerns everyone in the UK and I think the Conservatives have forgotten the distinction between themselves and the rest of the country,” he said.

“Anything they do to appoint a new leader will have the problem of legitimacy.”

Should Ms Truss resist pressure to resign, the other option for her is to call a general election.

“There is a mindset of ‘let’s lose this election, let’s let Labor do the hard work’,” said Dr Wellings.

Who’s in line to replace Truss?

Such a contest may attract fewer candidates than the summer leadership election, said Dr. Wellings.

“We could resurrect anyone from July-August, but who would want to do it? The job has become so much harder now,” he said.

Sunak, who lost to Ms Truss in the grassroots vote that determines the party’s leader, is considered a likely candidate.

Rishi Sunak, dressed in a suit and blue tie, waves as he stands next to Liz Truss, who wears a navy blue dress.
Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak lost to Ms. Truss in the grassroots votes. (Reuters: Hannah McKay)

House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, who this week assured parliament that absent Mrs Truss was not hiding under her desk, is also a possibility, but Dr Wellings said she was more likely to have a “secondary role”.

“Sunak is also deeply divided. They could come up with a Sunak-Mordaunt dream team, but actually there are a lot of people who would have to swallow their pride and their political principles for that to happen,” said Dr. Wellings.

Chancellor Hunt, now ‘de facto leader’ – who lost to Mr Johnson after Theresa May stepped down in 2019 – is another possibility.

But maybe he wants to stay where he is, said Dr. Wellings.

Another name mentioned is Suella Braverman, who also threw her hat into the ring at the last leadership contest. But as a more far-right candidate than Ms Truss, Dr Wellings said the party was unlikely to take the risk.

liz truss on the benches of parliament with jeremy hunt, laughing, penny maudent looking at her phone
Jeremy Hunt (center), sits between Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt (left) in the House of Commons. (Reuters: British Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout)

What problems would a new leader face?

Ms Truss’ successor would be the third Conservative Party leader in this election cycle – twice the leader people last went to the polls for – and therefore be deemed less legitimate.

This would put pressure on the government to hold elections sooner than they might hope, said Dr Wellings.

“If the Conservative Party puts in a third leader since the last general election three years ago and a fifth leader since the 2016 Brexit referendum, there will be real steam power to hold elections.”

The last election can be called in January 2025.

dr. Wellings predicts that the party will either call elections immediately or try to stay as close to two more years as possible.

However long Ms. Truss holds out, there’s a bigger problem, Dr. Wellings said.

“The question is what’s going wrong. It’s a deeper question, it’s not just Truss or Kwarteng’s policy.

“Something has broken in the Conservative Party, and possibly more broadly in British politics.”

Leave a Comment