UK PM Truss Resigns: Who Could Replace Her?

Liz Truss said on Thursday she was resigning as British prime minister just six weeks after she was appointed. 

A leadership election will be completed within the next week to replace Truss, who is the shortest-serving prime minister in British history. George Canning previously held the record, serving 119 days in 1827 when he died. 

Given the divisions in the party there is no obvious candidate and any replacement would face a country likely heading into a recession. Leading names are below: 

Rishi Sunak 

Britain’s former finance minister was the most popular candidate among Conservative lawmakers at Westminster in a leadership contest earlier this year but, after getting through to a run-off against Truss, he lost out in a vote involving some 170,000 party members who made the final decision. 

Many members were angry when Sunak quit in July, helping to trigger a rebellion that eventually brought down former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They also ignored his warning that markets could lose confidence in Britain if Truss delivered her unfunded tax cuts. 

Betting exchange Betfair puts Sunak as the favorite to replace Truss, but those lawmakers who remain loyal to Johnson would most probably oppose that move. 

Sunak is “certain to stand” for the leadership, according to the Telegraph. 

Penny Mordaunt 

A former defense secretary, Mordaunt was a passionate supporter of leaving the European Union who only just missed out on the final two-place run-off in the recent leadership challenge. 

Mordaunt won plaudits for her performance in parliament on Monday, when she defended the government even as it reversed most of its policies. 

One lawmaker has described Mordaunt as having “broad appeal,” referring to her ability to find friends in the various tribes of the party. 

Mordaunt is believed to be in the running to become the next prime minister, Sky News reported. 

Boris Johnson 

Former prime minister Johnson is expected to stand in the Conservative Party leadership contest, the Times reported. 

Johnson, once a journalist, has loomed large over British politics ever since he became London Mayor in 2008. After causing trouble for leaders such as David Cameron and Theresa May, he finally became prime minister in 2019 and went on to win a landslide election victory. 

Johnson was the face of the Brexit vote and won votes in parts of the country that had never voted Conservative before. But he was forced out by a string of scandals. 

Some closest to him say at the moment he is more interested in making money on the speech circuit than returning to frontline politics. 

Jeremy Hunt 

After Truss’s economic program collapsed and she fired her finance minister, she turned to Hunt, a former health and foreign minister, to put things right. 

A series of confident performances on television and in the House of Commons, as he ripped up Truss’s economic manifesto, have already led to some Conservative lawmakers referring to Hunt as the “real prime minister.” 

He has insisted he does not want the top job, despite entering two previous races to become prime minister, including in 2019 when he lost out in the final round to former prime minister Boris Johnson. Hunt does not have the obvious support of a large group of lawmakers in parliament. 

The BBC and other outlets said he was not considering running. 

Kemi Badenoch 

After losing out in the previous leadership contest, where she won support on the right wing of the Conservative party, Badenoch was appointed a cabinet minister by Truss. 

A source close to Badenoch said: “The Party must unite around a new leader who restores trust in politics and delivers good government for the British people. Kemi is in conversations with colleagues about how best to achieve this.” 

The trade secretary, born in London to Nigerian-origin parents, has said Britain has been falsely criticized as oppressive to minorities. She has also opposed gender-neutral toilets as causing a “significant disadvantage” to women. 

Suella Braverman 

Braverman, who resigned less than 24 hours ago as home secretary after criticizing Truss, is “widely expected to stand” to be the leader of the Conservatives, the Guardian reported, adding that an adviser to her declined to say if she plans to run. 

Braverman, born to parents of Indian origin, wants to reduce overall migration into Britain and has said the country has too many low-skilled migrant workers and very high numbers of international students. 

She previously served as a Brexit minister and has advocated for Britain pulling out of the European Court of Human Rights. She was also a leadership contender in the previous contest, winning the backing of prominent anti-EU campaigner Nigel Farage. 

Braverman quit as interior minister on Wednesday, saying she had to go after she breached government rules but said in a critical resignation letter that she had concerns over the direction of Truss’s government.  

Ben Wallace 

Britain’s defense secretary is one of the few ministers to have emerged from recent political turmoil with his credibility enhanced. Wallace, a former soldier, was defense minister for both Johnson and Truss, leading Britain’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Popular with party members, he surprised many earlier this year when he said he wouldn’t run for the leadership, saying he wanted to focus on his current job. He told the Times newspaper this week that he still wanted to stay as defense secretary. 

 

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