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A Reflection on the Shortest Prime Ministerial Term in UK History

Written by Amber Turner-Brightman, Illustration by Rachel McDonagh

Last Thursday, Liz Truss delivered a short and sweet resignation speech outside Downing Street. She reflected upon her 44-day premiership- the shortest in the history of the United Kingdom, and the most unpopular on record- admitting that she “could not deliver” on the mandate upon which she was elected.

In an attempt to unpack what might be the biggest understatement in modern political history, let us look at Truss’ most notable achievements of the last 44 days.

Illustration by Rachel McDonagh

Truss is Elected with 57% of the Vote

In a twist which surprised many, Liz Truss beat her debatably more qualified counterpart Rishi Sunak in the Conservative Party membership vote with a 7% majority- a figure which represents 0.1% of the UK’s population. Ironically, she seemed to pride herself on the pathetic mandate upon which she was chosen, promising to grow the economy and cut taxes in an attempted return to Thatcherism.

Kwasi Kwarteng’s Mini-Budget Disaster

Several weeks into her premiership, Truss’ Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng announced a “Growth Plan” which involved, in summary: blanket tax cuts which benefitted the rich disproportionately, including the abolition of the 45% higher rate of income tax and a lowering of corporation tax, and a return to unlimited bankers’ bonuses. Perhaps the only point with potential to ease the burden of the cost of living crisis was a two-year freeze on energy bills, but refusal to aim this solely at society’s most vulnerable resulted in minute cuts for the poor, and reluctance to implement a windfall tax made it unsustainable. The confidence placed in the mini-budget by the PM and Tweedle-Dee was obviously unfounded- the increase in borrowing required to fund it was so negatively received that the pound dropped to a 37-year low against the dollar, and the IMF stepped in to offer an unconventional warning. Whilst at first the pair were stubborn (read: stupid) enough to stick with the plan, Kwarteng eventually announced his resignation halfway through October, and his successor Jeremy Hunt reversed the majority of cuts announced.

The Lettuce Rises

After Kwarteng's resignation, the Daily Star began livestreaming a lettuce, pondering whether it would outlast Truss' premiership.

Suella Braverman Resigns

Five days ago, Fareham’s own Suella Braverman- famous for obsessing unhealthily over sending innocent asylum seekers to Rwanda and publicly scolding those who enjoy tofu- resigned from her position as Home Secretary, citing an accidental breach of government security rules. In her resignation letter, Braverman expressed concern about Truss’ leadership, stressing that “resignation is the right thing to do” when mistakes are made by politicians.

The Fracking Fiasco

On the same day as Braverman’s resignation, the Commons filled with Conversative MPs preparing to vote against a Labour motion to ban fracking. To offer some context, the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto- the one which the general public actually voted for- pledged a moratorium on fracking unless new evidence arose on the risk of earthquakes from the practice. Shale gas, sourced from fracking, is also the most unpopular form of energy in the country, making it a very strange proposal for the party to vote against. But this was no ordinary vote- in fact, earlier that morning Chief Whip Craig Whittaker had told all MPs that the vote was “not a motion on fracking”, rather “a confidence motion in the government”. It was declared a “100% hard three-line whip”, meaning there would be harsh consequences for anyone who chose to vote against the government.

Nonetheless, over forty Tories refused to back the government, in spite of alleged bullying, shouting, and “physical manhandling” by ministers. There was outrage among some MPs, with former Energy Minister Chris Skidmore stating that he was prepared to “face the consequences of his decision”, and loyal backbencher Charles Walker telling the BBC he had “had enough of talentless people putting their tick in the right box, not because it’s in the national interest, but because it’s in their personal interest to achieve ministerial position”.

Whilst the motion was defeated, damage to Truss’ authority had been done.

Truss Resigns

This brings us to Thursday, upon which Truss delivered her brief resignation speech outside Number 10. The lettuce was declared victorious, and the country breathed a collective sigh of relief. It was announced earlier today, after the withdrawals of Penny Mordaunt and Boris Johnson from the leadership race, that Rishi Sunak would be taking her place as Prime Minister.

This replacement should console no one. Truss was not just a bad apple- her arrogance and disregard are characteristic of the rotting orchard which is the Conservative Party. Sunak may not be as incompetent, but he is equally as incapable of representing working people as any of his predecessors.

What the country wants and desperately needs is not only an immediate general election, but complete system overhaul. Sunak is soon to become our fifth prime minister in the last six years, and the fourth to be unelected. None of these elitists care about us, which is why they’re leaving us to freeze and starve in our homes this winter. It is obvious that liberal capitalism functions solely for the rich, and it is time to say enough.


About the Author: Amber Turner-Brightman (they/them)

Hi, I'm Amber, EIC! I'm an MA Journalism student with an undergraduate degree in Politics and International Relations. I'm particularly interested in current affairs and societal trends.

About the Illustrator: Rachel McDonagh

Rachel is a current student at the University of Portsmouth. She completed her BA in Animation in 2021 and is currently studying towards an MA in Illustration. She's incredible at getting started and not knowing when to stop. When she's not making something, she is usually thinking about what she'll make next!


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