The Lettuce Won: Why Liz Truss Resigned as UK PM After Just 44 Days

Liz truss lettuce

A rather sad-looking iceberg lettuce has been elected Prime Minister of the UK after the country’s now-shortest term PM, Liz Truss, resigned after just 44 days in power.

If you’re not up on the bizarre jokes of the British tabloids, for the past seven days The Daily Star has been running a live stream of a lettuce in a blonde wig to see whether it would outlast the now outgoing UK Prime Minister. This started after The Economist quipped that her leadership has “roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce.”

Okay, so the lettuce is not actually going to lead the country now, despite congratulations from the former Russian President but, judging by the absolute chaos the UK politics is in right now, many people appear to prefer the wilting vegetable over another Conservative Party leadership contest.

In one of the wildest weeks in UK politics, in what has been a series of mad months in some particularly strange years, Truss’s government saw the sacking of her chancellor (like our treasurer), the sacking of her home secretary, and possibly a physical punch up in the Houses of Parliament. It was this latest controversy that finally did it in for her after her Conservative Party, the nation, and the markets all rejected many of her key policies.

“Given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative party,” Truss announced in a brief speech outside Downing Street on Thursday afternoon local time.

“I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative party”.

So, where did it go so wrong for Truss and what really happened to bring down this much-maligned politician? Here’s what you need to know.

Why Did Liz Truss Resign?

Truss has been a long-serving member of successive UK governments, serving in the cabinets of former PM’s including David Cameron, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson. She came to power after the chaotic fall of Johnson and a tense Conservative Party leadership election in which she beat out the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak because she promised to rapidly cut taxes and fix the energy crisis that the UK is going through.

However, upon claiming power, her keystone policy of vast tax cuts, to be paid for with massive borrowing, spooked the markets so badly that the British Pound fell to its lowest level in history.

She was then forced to U-turn on that policy, firing her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, in the process. Plunging opinion polls, poor public performances in interviews, and the growing disquiet of her party saw her position look increasingly untenable. Hence the lettuce.

The final straw came in the form of a physical altercation in Westminster after Conservative MPs were reportedly “manhandled” to vote down a Labour Bill to ban fracking on the UK mainland. This was one of Truss’ other key policies, opening up new oil and gas fields, and party policy enforcers, known as ‘whips’, wrangled MPs into voting down the Bill, even though the policy is vastly unpopular with voters.

Following the vote, the chief whip, Wendy Morton, resigned, saying she was undermined by the whole fiasco. The deputy chief whip, Craig Whittaker, also resigned, saying “I am f**king furious and I don’t give a f**k any more,” as he left the House of Parliament. Both of them were later announced as not resigning by Downing Street.

Long-standing Conservative backbencher, Charles Walker, gave this assessment of the events of the evening, describing his own party as an “absolute disgrace.”

Obviously, ripping into your own party on live TV is not really the done thing for MPs, and it was clear that Truss was on the edge. The 1922 Committee — a group within the Tory party that oversees the election of party leaders — had reportedly already received nearly double the 54 letters of no confidence needed to trigger a vote of no confidence in the leader, but didn’t act due to the fact replacing your leader after just six weeks is a bad look and, also, technically against the rules of the party.

So, it fell to Truss to resign, given that she’d entirely lost the support of her party, handed the Opposition a soaring lead in the polls, and had fired most of her closest allies.

In a speech, given just hours before her resignation as calls to go mounted, Truss stated twice that she was “a fighter, not a quitter”. It appears she has now U-turned on that as well.

Who Will Replace Liz Truss?

In the words of Truss, “there will be a leadership election to be completed in the next week”. Friday, October 28 is the set date for another leadership vote within the party and Truss will stay on as leader until then, when a new PM will be elected.

Truss is probably happy either way — after serving as PM, however briefly, she is now entitled to £115,000 per year in expenses for life.

Top candidates for the job include Sunak, who the party rejected as leader just weeks ago, and far-right MP Penny Mordaunt.

A surprise bid, although probably nothing should be surprising these days, could come in the form of Boris Johnson. Members are reportedly keen to see the return of the disgraced former PM to at least steady the ship and get the government moving again while Britain faces one of the worst cost-of-living disasters in living memory.

Others, largely outside of the Conservative Party, have been calling for a general election, although it’s highly unlikely the Tories will concede a vote, given they’re trailing the Labour Party by some 31 points.

Our vote is the lettuce.

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