British Prime Minister Liz Truss announces her resignation, outside Number 10 Downing Street, London British Prime Minister Liz Truss announces her resignation, outside Number 10 Downing Street, London 

Britain's Prime Minister resigns after turbulent six weeks

British Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her resignation Thursday after just six turbulent weeks in office. Her announcement makes her one of the shortest-serving government leaders in Britain's history.

By Stefan J. Bos

As Britain's third female prime minister, Truss could not save her embattled premiership despite ditching her entire economic plan and replacing two key Cabinet posts over the past week.

Her setback comes as the nation and many within the Commonwealth face the most significant economic challenges in at least a generation.

Truss said Thursday she was resigning, partly due to her failed economic program that sent shockwaves through the financial markets and brought the British pound to record lows.

Her policies, including a controversial tax plan, had divided her Conservative Party just six weeks after she was appointed.

A visibly upset Truss confirmed her decision to reporters while standing in front of her official residence at 10 Downing Street in London. "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," she said.

Leadership election

"This morning, I met the Chair of the [Conservative Party's organizing] 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. We have agreed there will be a leadership election to be completed in the next week," the prime minister added. "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, prime minister until a successor has been chosen," Truss stressed.  

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who was seen as a candidate, has already confirmed he will not stand to be the next Conservative leader and prime minister.

Ahead of her resignation, tensions had erupted overnight after the opposition Labour Party brought a vote on whether Parliament should have a say on the government's plans for fracking, a technique for recovering gas and oil from shale rock.

Legislators of the ruling Conservative Party were allegedly told the vote would be a test of loyalty to the Truss government - a confidence motion.

They were reportedly warned that they could get kicked out of the parliamentary party if they did not oppose the Labor plan. The vote led to chaotic scenes in the British Parliament, with the Chair struggling to maintain order and a legislator complaining about alleged violence.

Motion defeated

Labour's motion was defeated by 230 votes to 326, a majority of 96. But the vote descended into chaos with Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing at some point asking to investigate the delay in the No lobby.

After the vote was announced, Labour legislator Chris Bryant urged her "to launch an investigation into the scenes outside the entrance to the No lobby" amid reports of bullying and even violence. "I saw members being physically manhandled," Bryant claimed, prompting audible shouts of agreement from legislators.  
An angry speaker warned, however, that "We will have "a little bit of good behavior, for a moment, on both sides of the House!"  

There was a muted response on the markets after Truss announced she was stepping down, with the pound rising initially in the immediate aftermath of her statement before settling back at around $1.12.

Analysts said the markets were "watching in a kind of stunned, open-mouthed horror" at political events.

There is now opposition pressure for early general elections.

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos

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20 October 2022, 17:01