As she battles economic turmoil and an unruly party, what next for Liz Truss?

As She Battles Economic Turmoil And An Unruly Party, What Next For Liz Truss?
Conservative Party Conference 2022, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By David Hughes, PA Political Editor

Liz Truss is a little over a month into her premiership but there is already talk at Westminster of replacing her as Tory leader and British prime minister.

– How did we get here?


The UK prime minister was elected as Tory leader on September 5th and took over as prime minister the following day. Her premiership had barely begun when politics ground to a halt following the death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth.


The pivotal event of her time in office so far has been chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget on September 23rd, which triggered turmoil in the financial markets and required an emergency intervention by the Bank of England to support UK government bonds.

A chaotic party conference, overshadowed by a U-turn on the 45p income tax policy, and daunting poll leads for Labour have added to unease on the Tory benches.

– So what happens now?


The chancellor has already been forced to abandon plans to scrap the 45p rate of income tax for top earners following a backlash from Tory MPs.

But with markets spooked by the levels of borrowing required to fund his other tax cuts, and no plan yet set out to balance the books, he is under pressure to further water down his plans – something which could undermine the Truss administration’s agenda of reducing tax burdens in the hope of stimulating economic growth.

The chancellor’s medium-term fiscal plan, brought forward from late November to October 31st, could prove to be a crunch moment.


While Ms Truss has committed tens of billions to a package to protect households and businesses from soaring energy bills, the rising cost of government borrowing has a knock-on effect on mortgages, increasing the squeeze on family finances.

– Will the Prime Minister survive?

If Mr Kwarteng is forced to U-turn on further key elements of his plan, his position might be in jeopardy first. But Ms Truss is far from safe, despite still being in what should have been her honeymoon period.

If the Halloween statement is met by another adverse market reaction and further increases in the cost of UK government borrowing, the clamour for change will inevitably grow louder.


– How could Ms Truss be removed from office?

Under the current rules, Ms Truss is safe from a confidence vote within her first 12 months in office.

But if senior figures within the party made clear to her she could not command the support of her MPs, she would have little option but to quit.

That could trigger a leadership contest – something the party may be keen to avoid, given the fallout from the contest between Ms Truss and Rishi Sunak is partly to blame for the toxic atmosphere within the Tory ranks.

– So if Ms Truss is forced out, what then?

When David Cameron quit, the leadership contest did not go to a vote of party members as Theresa May was left unopposed following Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal from the race – although MPs had taken part in a series of votes to get to the final two.

In 2003, there was no contest but instead a coronation as Michael Howard took the job unopposed.

– Who could take the job?

With the Tory party deeply split, it is hard to see a single figure who would be able to unify MPs.

In the absence of a compromise candidate – or one who can strike a deal with rivals from other wings of the party – it appears unlikely that critics of Ms Truss will have the ready replacement required for a coup to succeed.

Liz Truss becomes PM
Boris Johnson was forced out but his name is never far from speculation about a return to No 10 (Aaron Chown/PA)

Names bandied around as potential successors have included Boris Johnson – despite being forced out earlier this year – Kit Malthouse, Grant Shapps, Sajid Javid or even an alliance between Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, who came first and third among MPs in the most recent ticket.

Former Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries said a “smorgasbord of names” had been put forward as potential leaders but MPs “cannot foist upon the British public another prime minister that the public have not voted for”.

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