What to know about British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s resignation and what’s next for the U.K.

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In a continuation of “utter chaos” for Britain's Conservative Party, Prime Minister Liz Truss has resigned after just six weeks in office.

After weeks of political and economic turmoil, Truss ultimately decided Thursday to leave No. 10 Downing St. In her short stint as leader, Truss oversaw the state funeral for Britain’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and overturned a national ban on fracking.

At a podium bearing the arms of the crown in front of the prime minister's residence, Liz Truss looks pensive.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss announces her resignation outside No. 10 Downing St., in London, on Thursday. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

In a bid to tackle Britain’s cost of living crisis, Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Britain's finance chief, announced a mini-budget in which even the rich were given tax breaks. The announcement caused the pound to plummet to an all-time low, forcing the Bank of England to step in. Kwarteng resigned on Oct. 14, after being told by Truss to “stand aside.” Home Secretary Suella Braverman would follow after violating ministerial rules by sending an official document to another lawmaker from her personal email.

In Truss’s final days, several Conservative MPs submitted a letter of no confidence to the prime minister, calling for her resignation.

How long did Truss last as prime minister?

Truss served 44 days — the least time a prime minister of the United Kingdom has ever served. The next shortest was in 1827, when, after 118 days, two months longer than Truss, George Canning died of tuberculosis or pneumonia.

What happens now?

A view of Parliament from the river, with a flag flying over Westminster Abbey in the background.
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on the River Thames in London. (Getty Images)

In her resignation speech, Truss said that she had met with the chairman of the 1922 Committee, a group of senior Conservative members of Parliament (MPs), and agreed to hold a leadership election “within the next week.”

“This will ensure that we remain on a path to deliver our fiscal plans and maintain our country’s economic stability and national security,” she added.

Under the rules of the Conservative Party, current MPs must put themselves forward to a vote by the 327 members of the party. Unlike the last leadership race, where the top two in the pool advanced to a second round, only one vote will be held. Candidates will be required to have the backing of at least 100 MPs by 2 p.m. on Monday.

Who are the contenders?

Rishi Sunak  arms wide apart, delivers a speech.
Rishi Sunak, former chancellor of the Exchequer, on the hustings at Wembley Arena in London in the race for Conservative leadership on Aug. 31. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Truss entered her premiership at a point when the Conservative Party was in chaos, and left it in no better shape. Since 2019, a revolving door of Conservative politicians have served in government positions, none of whom stand out as obvious contenders to take over the role of prime minister.

  • Rishi Sunak, a former chancellor and Truss's runner-up in the last leadership race, is the favorite to replace his former opponent. He lost favor with some members of his party after his resignation as chancellor led to the collapse of Boris Johnson’s premiership.

  • Penny Mordaunt, the current Leader of the House of Commons, who came third in the previous leadership race, is also tipped to take over as prime minister. Last week, senior members of the Conservative Party held talks to replace Truss with a joint ticket of Sunak and Mordaunt, the Times reported.

  • Boris Johnson, who was ousted from No. 10 three months ago, could run to become prime minister again. In his farewell address, he fueled speculation when he compared himself to a Roman statesman, Cincinnatus, who later returned to power.

Braverman, the former home secretary, and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace have also been mentioned as among those who could make a bid for leadership. The current chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, has said he will not run.

Could there be a general election?

A ballot counter crouches down as a full box of ballots is poured onto her desk.
Ballot papers being counted at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland, during the 2017 General Election in 2017. (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire via AP)

Several lawmakers from Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, including its leader, Sir Keir Starmer, have called for a general election.

“The Conservative Party has shown it no longer has a mandate to govern,” Starmer said. "The Tories cannot respond to their latest shambles by yet again simply clicking their fingers and shuffling the people at the top, without the consent of the British people. We must have a chance at a fresh start. We need a general election — now."

Under legislation reintroduced by Johnson in 2022, only the prime minister can call for a snap general election.