Liz Truss announces her resignation as Prime Minister
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At 4am yesterday morning Liz Truss was awake and sending texts to her closest allies. Pandemonium had broken out in the House of Commons the night before, and the Prime Minister was aware her premiership was on the brink.
But despite the mayhem, Ms Truss was not yet ready to give up. After vowing just hours earlier that she was “a fighter, not a quitter”, she was ready to do whatever she could to salvage her job.
Officials and aides in No10 had worked through the night to try and restore stability.
Confusion and chaos on Wednesday evening had left dozens of Tory MPs unsure whether a vote on fracking in Parliament was a confidence matter.
Backbenchers were unclear if they would be suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party if they failed to back the Prime Minister in rejecting a Labour Party motion on banning fracking.
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Chief whip Wendy Morton and her deputy resigned after the breakdown in communication and Ms Truss was left pleading with them to stay on.
During the night journalists were sent texts briefing that the whips remained in place and that those who had rebelled against the Government would be “disciplined”.
One ally of the Prime Minister said that Ms Truss had actually been unimpressed by Ms Morton for weeks but was left begging her to stay out of fear “the whole whips’ office would have resigned”.
Having managed to convince her ministers not to quit late Wednesday night, in the early hours of Thursday morning Ms Truss’s attention turned to the next part of the puzzle: How could she fight on?
The South West Norfolk MP gathered her closest aides in the Cabinet room first thing in the morning to discuss her options.
Chief of staff Mark Fullbrook, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and her civil service private secretary Nick Catsaras were all in agreement that if she was to have any chance of staying on, she needed to talk to Sir Graham Brady the chairman of the powerful 1922 committee of backbenchers.
A meeting with the senior MP was organised in secret, with very few in Downing Street aware it was taking place.
It only became public after Sir Graham was pictured being snuck in via the back entrance to No10 at 11.40am.
Even the Prime Minister’s own official spokesman was caught off-guard. At the exact time, Sir Graham and Ms Truss were discussing whether she could continue, he was briefing journalists in the building next door that the Prime Minister would fight the next election.
The message from Sir Graham was could not have been more different: she had to go.
He informed her dozens of backbench MPs had submitted letters of no confidence in her leadership and that an extraordinary vote on her future risked being called if she tried to cling on.
It was during that conversation that Ms Truss finally admitted defeat. She knew then that her legacy would be as the UK’s shortest-ever Prime Minister.
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While determined to keep fighting to the end, those close to the Conservative leader say that in reality, she knew her premiership was doomed weeks ago.
“She was not in a good place,” one friend told The Times.
“She just couldn’t see a way through. She’s known since the mini-budget there was no way back.”
After her meeting with Sir Graham, Ms Truss phoned the Conservative chairman, Sir Jake Berry and deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey to ask them to come to Downing Street to tell them the news.
A phone call to the King came next, she told him that after just six weeks on the throne he was already set to welcome his second Prime Minister.
Next, she gathered her closest aides in the Cabinet Room shortly after 1pm and told them she was going.
Half an hour later, she walked out of the black front door of No10 accompanied by her husband, Hugh O’Leary, to deliver the same speech given by so many of her predecessors.
Some were in tears as they heard the news. Meanwhile, one person in the room told the Daily Mail Ms Truss joked: “Politics is a blood sport.”
Cool, calm and looking relaxed, Ms Truss told the country: “I recognise though, 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.”
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