Timeline: UK Prime Minister Liz Truss from crisis to resignation

PM Liz Truss’s six-week tenure was defined by a chaotic economic package, ministerial sackings and death of Queen.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss attends a news conference in London, Britain, October 14, 2022. Daniel Leal/Pool via REUTERS
British Prime Minister Liz Truss attends a news conference in London, UK [Daniel Leal/Pool via Reuters]

British Prime Minister Liz Truss has announced her resignation just a month and half after taking office.

Her brief and tempestuous tenure was marked by the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the introduction of a controversial plan to cut taxes that Truss maintained would jump start the economy, but instead sent financial markets into chaos.

Truss’s final days in office saw a sheepish u-turn on the economic package, as well the firing of her finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng. On Wednesday, her interior minister Suella Braverman resigned, with both ministers replaced by politicians who had not backed Truss for the leadership.

Here is everything that has happened since Truss became the United Kingdom’s prime minister:

Truss wins leadership contest

On September 5, then Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was named leader of the governing Conservative Party, taking power as the UK’s next prime minister at a time when the country faces a cost-of-living crisis, industrial unrest and a recession.

Long the frontrunner in the race to replace Boris Johnson, Truss became the Conservatives’ fourth prime minister since the 2015 election.

Truss, 47, promised to act quickly to tackle the UK’s cost-of-living crisis, saying that within a week she would come up with a plan to tackle rising energy bills and secure future fuel supplies.

Truss signalled during her leadership campaign she would challenge economic conventions by scrapping tax increases and cutting other levies that some economists said would increase inflation.

That, plus a pledge to review the remit of the Bank of England while protecting its independence, would later prompt some investors to dump the pound and government bonds.

Truss appoints cabinet

On September 7, hours after stepping into the top office, Truss appointed a new cabinet at the formal request of Queen Elizabeth II.

The extensive reshuffle saw 15 new faces in top government positions, while 16 members from the previous cabinet remained in the newly formed cabinet.

Among the most senior members was Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor of the exchequer. He replaced Nadhim Zahawi, who got the job in July.

Kwarteng previously served as business secretary since January 2021, when he became the first Black Conservative Party cabinet minister.

Queen Elizabeth II dies

On September 8 the 96-year-old monarch died. A 10-day period of national mourning followed, with the queen’s funeral held on September 19.

Kwarteng announces mini-budget

On September 23, the British government unveiled a new mini-budget in the parliament, intending to cut household taxes and energy bills while driving economic growth.

In what represents the most significant tax cut budget since 1972, Kwarteng’s sweeping new budget would see cuts to national insurance, stamp duty and the top tax of rate.

Kwarteng said the budget would address three key things: the energy price guarantee, equal support for businesses, and an energy markets financing scheme.

A plan was brought forward to cut the lowest income tax rate from 20 to 19 percent and reduce the highest rate from 45 to 40 percent.

Financial markets in turmoil

Kwarteng’s tax cuts and energy price freeze, aimed at boosting the UK’s recession-threatened economy, appeared to have the opposite effect as traders warned of ballooning debt to pay for the incentives.

Following the budget, UK government bond yields soared and on September 26 the pound hit a record low at $1.0350, as the sweeping unfunded tax cuts shook the market.

Bank of England intervenes

In a highly unusual intervention, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on September 27 that it was “closely monitoring” developments and urged the government in London to change tack.

The next day, the Bank of England (BoE) stepped in to shore up market confidence in the UK after the IMF criticised the UK’s budget, arguing it “will likely increase inequality” and worsen inflation.

The BoE announced it was temporarily buying up 65bn pounds ($73bn) worth of long-dated UK government bonds “to restore orderly market conditions”.

Truss defends economic plan

On September 29, Truss defended her economic plan and shrugged off the negative reaction from financial markets, saying she is willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing.

In her first public comments since the chaos sparked by the mini-budget, Truss said the UK was facing “very, very difficult economic times”.

But she said the problems were global and spurred by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

U-turn on top rate of tax

In a humiliating U-turn, the government reversed plans to cut the country’s highest rate of income tax.

Announcing the government’s U-turn, Kwarteng said the proposal to slash the top rate – which made up about two billion pounds ($2.2bn) out of the overall 45 billion pounds ($50.4bn) tax-cutting plan – had “become a distraction from our overriding mission to tackle the challenges facing our country”.

“We get it, and we have listened,” he said in a statement released hours before he was due to give a keynote speech at the Conservative Party’s annual conference.

Truss sacks Kwarteng

Truss remained under pressure to scrap more of the ill-fated mini-budget and on October 14, she appointed Jeremy Hunt to replace Kwarteng as chancellor and reversed the plan to cut corporation tax, scrapping a key part of the economic plan that had sparked market turmoil.

Speaking at a news conference, she said the corporation tax will rise to 25 percent from April next year.

Truss said she had decided to keep the rise, a move which would boost the public finances by 18 billion pounds ($20bn).

The Bank of England’s intervention drew to a close.

Hunt reverses nearly all tax cut plans

On October 17, Hunt reversed most of an economic package, saying the country needed to rebuild investor confidence.

Hunt said a planned 1 percentage point cut to the basic rate of income tax that had been due to take effect next year will not happen.

He also scaled back a cap on energy prices designed to help households pay their bills. It will now be reviewed in April rather than lasting two years.

Interior minister Suella Braverman quits

On October 19, Suella Braverman, Truss’s interior minister, resigned and Conservative legislators openly quarrelled in parliament over a vote on fracking for shale gas.

The departure of Braverman means Truss has now lost two of her most senior ministers in less than a week, both replaced by politicians who had not backed her for the leadership.

Braverman said she resigned after breaking rules by sending an official document from her personal email account. She used her resignation letter to lambast Truss, saying she had “concerns about the direction of this government”.

With a large Conservative majority in Parliament, an opposition call for a fracking ban was easily defeated by 326 votes to 230, but some legislators were furious that Conservative Party whips said the vote would be treated as a confidence motion, meaning the government would fall if the motion passed.

Truss resigns, becoming shortest-serving prime minister in UK history

On October 20, Truss took to the podium outside of her Downing Street office to announce her resignation, saying she could not deliver the promises she made when she was running for Conservative leader after having lost the faith of her party.

“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,” she said.

The Conservative Party announced it will hold a leadership election within the next week to replace Truss.

Meanwhile, the opposition Labour party called for an immediate general election.

“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,” opposition leader Keir Starmer said in a statement after Truss’s announcement. “We need a general election — now.”

Source: News Agencies