Updated Oct 19, 2022 - World

"An absolute disgrace": U.K. PM Liz Truss under fire from own party

Truss leaves 10 Downing Street. Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images

The U.K.'s burgeoning political crisis took several unexpected turns on Wednesday as Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned and several senior Conservatives called on Prime Minister Liz Truss to step down after six disastrous weeks in office.

What they're saying: "This whole affair is inexcusable. It is a pitiful reflection on the Conservative parliamentary party on every level, and it reflects very badly obviously on the government of the day," senior Conservative MP Charles Walker told the BBC.

  • "All those people who that put Liz Truss in number 10 [Downing Street], I hope it was worth it... to sit around the Cabinet table. Because the damage they have done to our party is extraordinary," Walker said, adding that Truss could not possibly recover.
  • Walker went a step further, accusing "talentless people" of backing Truss to further their own political careers without considering the national interest.

Driving the news: Walker's comments came after Truss' chief whips had told Conservative MPs they could be effectively expelled from the party if they refused to vote with the government over fracking, which Truss wants to legalize but many Conservative MPs oppose.

  • The government seemed to back off that threat by the time Wednesday's vote was called, but the Conservative whips — tasked with enforcing party discipline — still applied intense pressure to corral MPs into the voting chamber. Forty Conservative MPs ultimately abstained.
  • In a chaotic scene inside Parliament, Chief Whip Wendy Morton reportedly declared she was quitting — leading Truss to chase after her and causing both to miss the vote.
  • As of Wednesday evening, Morton and her deputy were still in their jobs, the BBC reports.

Braverman did resign — officially for violating security protocols by sending a sensitive email from a personal account — with a blistering letter implying that Truss herself should be next to go.

  • Braverman hails from the hard-right faction of the party that coalesced behind Truss in the Conservative leadership race, but which is now rapidly diverging from the prime minister as she reshuffles her policies and her top team to calm the markets and keep her job.
  • Truss previously removed another arch-conservative, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, after the signature tax cuts package they announced three weeks ago spooked the markets and caused a damaging run on the pound.
  • Truss has been forced to effectively hand control of economic policy to Kwarteng's replacement, Jeremy Hunt, and she quickly replaced Braveman with another centrist, Grant Shapps.

State of play: Walker is one of a handful of Conservative MPs now going on the record to say what many are saying in private, according to reports in the British press: Truss must go.

  • While she apologized for the economic damage her budget called, Truss insisted during Prime Minister's Questions earlier on Wednesday that she was staying: "I am a fighter, not a quitter."
  • With polls showing the Conservatives trailing the opposition Labour Party by more than 30 points, MPs are working behind the scenes to find a compromise candidate to replace Truss should they be able to force her out.
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