The Race is on Again for a New Prime Minister after Truss Resigns

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Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London
Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London

After the shortest Prime Minister’s leadership in British history England is looking to restore stability in the form of a new conservative Prime Minister.

Since becoming Prime Minister on the 6th September 2022 Liz Truss has sacked her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, after their controversial tax policies resulted in chaos on the financial markets. Truss then appointed Jeremy Hunt to help restore confidence. Hunt quickly ‘U’ turned on many of the main policies that formed the central elements of Liz Truss’s campaign. This was very awkward as Truss was committed to delivering her election pledges that she had promised to the conservative party members who had just voted her into office, to replace Boris Johnson.

The first couple of weeks of Truss’s premiership were overshadowed by the death of Queen Elizabeth II and then the successful succession of King Charles III and a period of national mourning. Then as the Autumn weather turned this October, a roller coaster of market instability saw the value of the pound crash dramatically. Investors and markets reacted to Truss’s overenthusiastic economic strategy that financial institutions, who are all in a serious mood due to the ongoing permacrisis and the war in Ukraine, found economically unviable.

Experienced conservative politician Jeremy Hunt’s appointment as the new Chancellor has helped to renew confidence in the government’s handling of the economic crisis. The need for experienced political leaders to navigate the country through stormy economic waters has unfolded this year due to a combination of challenging internal and external factors. Jeremy Hunt confirmed on Thursday that he would not throw his cap in the ring for Prime Minister, understanding that at this time maintaining stability is the first priority for this country.

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned earlier this week with a scathing letter emphasizing the need to ‘do the right thing for the country’ which added to the growing pressure for Liz Truss to resign as she didn’t have the confidence of many in the Tory party. Grant Shapps was swiftly appointed Home Secretary and Shapps also confirmed on Thursday that he would not be putting himself forward to become the new leader of the conservative party.

After declaring in the Commons on Wednesday that “I am a fighter not a quitter” Truss visited the King on Thursday afternoon to ask King Charles to accept her resignation as the pressure to stand aside became unavoidable. “I cannot deliver the mandate to which I was selected leader…” explained Truss.

It was also announced on Thursday that Grayham Brady who leads the 1922 committee, that oversees standards of political governance, will chair the latest leadership race which unusually Brady plans to be completed in just one week.

A digital ballot will enable conservative members of parliament to select a third UK Prime Minister in three months. This will be a contrast to the long leadership contest held over the summer in which Truss emerged as the preferred candidate. The new leader will be selected by this Friday 28th October. This is an important date as it will then be in time for the Chancellors next budget presentation at the end of this month.

At least one hundred votes will be needed to be qualified to be selected for the next conservative Prime Minister. If three candidates meet the criteria then a second vote will be put to conservative party members.

Everyone agrees that the next Prime Minister needs to have the trust and support of both their party and many in government as well as many people in the nation in order to navigate the difficult and fractured political and economic situation that currently affects the livelihoods and standard of living for most UK residents.

The resolution of the serious problems that the conservative party has faced is so vital and some members of the public have lost faith in the power of the conservatives to lead the government effectively, despite Boris Johnson winning the last general election.

Scottish Parliament leader Nicola Sturgeon and the Labour opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer both called for a national general election to be called, as soon as possible. Unfortunately for them the British parliamentary process means that it is only those currently in power (the conservative party) leadership that can call for an early general election, which they are unlikely to do before the next electoral term is up in December 2024.

Meanwhile incredibly (after a year of scandals which eventually lead to his resignation) divisive figure Boris Johnson is reported to be considering running for re-election. Some say that Johnson has a mandate as he was personally elected in 2019 despite being widely accused of not telling the truth and the ‘partygate’ scandal has lead to an official enquiry by a parliamentary committee where he will be questioned soon about allegations that he did not follow his own lockdown rules.

Meanwhile Truss’s recent rival Rishi Sunak’s economic proposals have shown to be a more acceptable and appropriate way forward after all. Truss’s inexperienced and over optimistic version of a low tax economy was dubbed ‘Trussonomics’. This bold and a fresh strategy caused real havoc to millions of people’s personal finances as interest rates surged as the pound fell as a direct response to the economic instability that ensued.  However, her generous energy price cap policy was welcomed across the country and most people will agree with the need to continue to support NATO with supporting Ukraine to defend their country from the continued invasion from Russia.

Other candidates for new British Prime Minister include Penny Mordant who is another favourite as she has a lot of experience of different roles in government. As leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Privy Council Penny Mordant impressed her party when she was instrumental in completing King Charles III’s succession ceremonies and she also stood in for Liz Truss in the House of Commons this week.

To prevent the continuation of ‘the revolving door of chaos’ many in opposition parties are calling for a general election. Currently this country faces international issues, decisions about supporting a war in Eastern Europe and an economy where borrowing is now the most expensive in more than a generation, public and private institutions are striking for pay that keeps pace with inflation, as well as a cost-of-living crisis affecting real life decisions of business owners and residents across the country. It is crucial that our democratic process can continue to deliver steady and stable direction and support to those who need it most.

An experienced mature leader with Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor may be enough to ensure the Conservatives can continue to gain momentum and confidence and start solving some priority problems. Ultimately a general election may be the only way to reset and rebalance the government. However right now six weeks of general election preparation is seen by many experts as a delay in appointing a captain to take the helm that we do not have the luxury of time to indulge in, at present.

Today Rishi Sunak officially entered the race to become the next Tory leader. Sky news and the BBC are reporting that he has at least 140 members of parliament formally backing his campaign. The first to announce ‘throwing her hat in the ring’ Penny Mordant is trailing behind with around 25 backers. Boris Johnson who according to the Telegraph tonight has 58 public backers but is still yet to formally join the leadership candidates on this latest parliamentary ballot.

The deadline for gathering nominations is 2pm tomorrow (Monday) so it would be wise to get ready for another unexpectedly tumultuous week in British politics to commence. Hopefully swiftly appointing a new Prime Minister and their top team will ultimately lead to some relatively calmer conditions for all the citizens in this country again soon.

 

(1) ‘Tory leadership race: Who could replace Liz Truss as prime minister?’ Kate Whannel, BBC News, 23 October 2022 ‘Tory leadership race: Who could replace Liz Truss as prime minister?’ Kate Whannel, BBC News

(2) ‘Tory leadership news: Boris Johnson has 100 backers and paperwork needed for ballot, ally claims’ Dominic Penna, The Telegraph, 23 October 2022 ‘Tory leadership news: Boris Johnson has 100 backers and paperwork needed…’ Dominic Penna, Telegraph