By Samuel Pennifold
Today Liz Truss has informed His Majesty The King Charles III of her decision to resign as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – with a leadership election to be carried out within the Conservative party to elect a new party leader and Prime Minister within the week.
Liz Truss served as Prime Minister for just 44 days, the shortest tenure of any Prime Minister in British history. Liz Truss’ short time in office will be remembered as little short of an unmitigated disaster, for her career, and the Conservative party. The various disasters of Liz Truss’ rule are punctuated by a mini-budget, delivered with her pick of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, that saw the value of the pound crash to the lowest level in living memory. As well as hikes in mortgage rates and crashing poll numbers that could threaten to wipe the Conservatives off the political map in the same way the Liberal Democrats were in the 1920s.
Per the convention of the British parliamentary system, the Conservative party will elect their new leader and Prime Minister by virtue of being the largest party in parliament. There is no fixed way in which this process has to be carried out, and it appears that the 1922 Committee – the body which represents all Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) – has decided this time that the party members as well as Conservative MPs will choose their leader and next Prime Minister. It is likely that those who threw their hat in the ring during the last leadership election will be among those who will try to be the next Prime Minister – with Boris Johnson’s former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt the two most likely MPs to be the final two candidates.
The Times newspaper though is also reporting that Boris Johnson is also evaluating a return to 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister, just under four months after he was ford out by a series of resignations within his government. He would be a favourite for the role as it does now seem that Conservative party members will vote on the next leader. The recently departed Home Secretary and figurehead of the nationalist right wing of the Conservative party Suella Braverman will hold a large amount of sway in the backrooms of Westminster over the next week. Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, will also hold some sway as he remains one of the few current or former cabinet ministers who is viewed as popular and competent. Though those who believe in long-shot candidates might back the young and dynamic Kemi Badenoch who sits on the Culture War right of the party.
Many opposition leaders, including Sir Keir Starmer the leader of the second biggest parliamentary party Labour and His Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition, have already called for a General Election to be held immediately. Calls for a general election are also growing increasingly louder amongst the general public. When a new leader of the Conservative Party is elected they could formally ask the King to dissolve parliament and call for a general election, though this is unlikely considering current polling would lead to a Conservative bloodbath. There could also be a vote of confidence called by the Government or a vote of no confidence in the Government tabled by the Opposition, if the Government lost or the opposition won such a vote this would also trigger a general election – though it would require at least 72 MPs to vote against their party. The King himself does also hold the reserve power to dissolve parliament without the Prime Minister asking for one, though this would likely trigger a constitutional crisis at a time when the nation is already gripped with chaos. Therefore the most likely outcome is the next general election will take place in January 2025 per the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act, giving the Conservatives a chance to drag their poll numbers up if they can form a stable government.
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