Liz Truss’ resignation as British Prime Minister after just 45 days may trigger an early general election that could see a fractious Tory party wiped out at the polls.

An emergency contest searching for her successor as party leader will take place next week, while she remains in office until at least Friday, but of more concern may be the public backlash at a chaotic period of government that has cycled through four chancellors in four months, crashed the pound, sent mortgage rates soaring and delivered the shortest term for a prime minister ever.

Truss’ admission outside 10 Downing Street that “given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party,” was merely the latest low point for a party, previously regarded as economically dependable.

Dr Patrick Leslie, a research fellow from the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University, said the government would come under renewed pressure to call an early election.

“It will be hard for the Conservative Party to resist calls for a general election in the coming months,” he told Central News.

“The Conservatives are now faced with the prospect of selecting the third prime minister in nearly as many months, and despite their intention to provide stability, yesterday’s resignation shows that stability is very far away.”

When the situation is this desperate, many MPs will go back to their happy place.

Britain’s Labour Party called for an “immediate” general election.

“The Conservative Party has shown it no longer has a mandate to govern. We must have a chance at a fresh start. We need a general election – now,” said the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer in a statement.

While nominations for the next Conservative leader close by 2pm on Monday, candidates will need support from at least 100 MPs.

As some high-profile veteran Tories, including Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Micheal Gove, have ruled themselves out of the contest for the next UK premiership, there is already talk that Boris Johnson could make a dramatic comeback just two months after being ousted. Supporters believe he can save the party from an election loss, like he did in 2019 when he led it to its biggest victory since 1987.

There has been rising conjecture that Johnson is scheming a return but Dr Leslie said it was “quite unlikely” to happen and “utterly implausible” that the ex-premier could be asked to form a new government after being pushed from office only weeks earlier.

“However, backbench Conservative MPs still hold a flame for the leader who delivered the largest Conservative majority in the modern era and still believe him to be an election winner,” Dr Leslie said.

“When the situation is this desperate, many MPs will go back to their happy place and put their stock in the man who is most likely to help them regain their seat.

“For many Tories, this man is still Boris Johnson.”

The political chaos began when Truss delivered a disruptive mini-budget in September, in which she reportedly had ignored warnings from economists not to introduce a controversial tax cuts package promised in her campaign. The market reacted quickly sending the pound crashing and forcing the Bank of England to step into prevent further carnage to the economy.

Dr Leslie said Truss faced ‘a huge number of challenges’ when she entered office, adding: “Not least the death of the Queen only days into her tenure.

“She made a number of promises to the Tory membership in order to win their vote.

“What was most surprising is that she actually tried to act on her promises faithfully. By pushing her policy commitments through with regard to her party or independent economic institutions designed to ensure that the country pays for its policies, she spoke to the market and made the situation for the country and her party far more difficult than it otherwise would have been.”

After replacing close ally and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng last week to try and restore confidence in the government, Truss’ short-lived and turbulent premiership came to an end. It came a day after the surprising resignation of her Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who cited her own misuse of personal email to transmit sensitive government documents as the reason for leaving.

“The business of government relies upon people accepting responsibility for their mistakes,“ the then Home Secretary said in her resignation letter to the PM, “pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if everyone can’t see that we have made them, and hoping that things will magically come right is not serious politics.

“I have made a mistake; I accept responsibility; I resign.”

Dr Leslie said: “She (Braverman) added fuel to the fire, possibly increasing the sense of panic in the Prime Minister’s office.”

Eventually a quitter

The sacking of Kwarteng and his replacement with Hunt had already fuelled questions about who really had power in Downing Street. Hunt, a former transport minister, swiftly reversed most of Truss’ policies to cut tax upon entry to No 11.


But, Dr Leslie said: “Jeremy Hunt’s stint as the most powerful person in British politics is likely to be short-lived. He does not have an enormous amount of personal support within the party, although many see him as a safe pair of hands.

“The incoming Prime Minister will have to make a decision [on] whether to keep Jeremy Hunt or install someone else.

“Installing someone else, however, with the markets as febrile as they are, would be quite risky as many economic commentators feel that his attempts to reassure investors that the UK can account for spending have been successful.”

Truss was scolded vigorously by Starmer on Thursday in her last PMQs session in parliament: “How can she be held to account when she’s not in charge?”

She fired back, a day ahead of her quitting: “I am a fighter, not a quitter.”

What’s next?

The resignation of Truss has triggered an emergent week-long leadership race in the Conservative Party to “ensure the delivery of fiscal plans and maintain British economic stability and national security”, according to the still sitting prime minister.

The Chairman of its 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, told reporters yesterday a new leader would be chosen in the next week. He also said the party hoped to have a new leader in office by October 28.

Former contenders Rishi Sunak, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, and Johnson, are likely to stand.

However, experts said it would be a challenge for the Conservatives to foster a new leader and consolidate.

“The Conservative Party is no longer a cohesive party. It has run out of ideas and is behaving like a party that is already in opposition. Polarisation within the party will make choosing a new leader very difficult,” Dr Ben Willings, senior lecturer in Politics and Public Relations at Monash University, said.

Main image of Liz Truss resigning outside 10 Downing Street supplied by UKGOV.