UK Prime Minister Liz Truss resignation: what happened in 45 days

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Britain plagued by instability amid Prime Minister Liz Truss’ resignation

‘Mornings with Maria’ discusses the resignation of British Prime Minister Liz Truss and recognizes the engagement of Washington Examiner commentary writer Tiana Lowe.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned Thursday after just 45 days in office, becoming the shortest-serving prime minister in Britain's history and the third Conservative Party prime minister to be pushed out of office in as many years. 

"I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party," Truss said in a statement delivered outside of her 10 Downing Street office. "I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party."

British Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media at 10 Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. Truss says she is resigning as leader of the U.K.’s Conservative Party.  (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali / AP Newsroom)

FOX Business provides a timeline of the events that led to Truss' resignation and what happens next.

UK PRIME MINISTER LIZ TRUSS RESIGNS AFTER LESS THAN 2 MONTHS IN OFFICE

Sept. 5: Truss wins Tory election

On Sept. 5, Truss narrowly defeated former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak in an election to determine the new leader of Britain's Conservative Party. Truss won after promising to increase defense spending and cut taxes. However, she refused to say at the time how she would address the cost-of-living crisis.

According to The Associated Press, Truss received 81,326 votes to Sunak's 60,399. The election came following the resignation of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by a senior member of his government.

Truss was formally appointed prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II Sept. 6. Elizabeth died at the age of 96 two days later. 

Sept. 8: Truss announces energy support package

On Sept. 8, Truss announced plans to end a ban on fracking and unveiled a £150 billion plan designed to limit energy costs for households to £2,500 per year for two years. The Resolution Foundation, a British independent think tank, slammed the proposal, arguing it would give the richest tenth of U.K. households far more than £2,200 in support.

Sept. 23: Truss announces mini-budget

Two weeks later, Truss and her Treasury Chief Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled an economic package that authorized 45 billion pounds ($50 billion) in unfunded tax cuts, which decimated the value of the pound and increased the cost of the U.K.'s government borrowing. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a rare warning urging Britain’s new government to reevaluate the tax cuts. Meanwhile, the Bank of England refrained from an emergency interest rate hike and said it would buy bonds through Oct. 14 to stabilize the market and drive down the cost of government borrowing.

After a week of market volatility, Truss told the BBC in an interview Sept. 29 she would stick to the controversial plan.

"We had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving, and also deal with inflation, and of course, that means taking controversial and difficult decisions," she said. "But I'm prepared to do that as prime minister because what's important to me is that we get our economy moving."

UK PM TRUSS DEFIANTLY STATES  ‘I AM A FIGHTER’ AFTER CALLS FOR HER RESIGNATION

Oct. 3: Truss reverses course on top rate of tax

Following the market reaction and scrutiny from the Conservative Party, Truss reversed course and said she would scrap the plan's 45% top rate of income tax, calling it a "distraction."

Kwarteng proceeded to push the publication date of the fiscal plans and economic forecasts up from Nov. 23 to Oct. 31.

Oct. 14: Treasury Chief Kwasi Kwarteng fired

On Oct. 14, Truss fired Kwarteng and replaced him with former Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt. Kwarteng's departure after 38 days made him the second shortest-serving chancellor.

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Britain’s Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng leaves 11 Downing Street in London Sept. 23, 2022.  | AP Newsroom

On Oct. 17, Hunt proceeded to scrap almost all of Truss’ tax cuts, cut short her energy subsidies and abandoned her promise of no public spending cuts. He said the government would need to save billions of pounds and that there are "many difficult decisions" to be made before he sets out a medium-term fiscal plan Oct. 31.

Oct. 19: Truss apologizes but vows to remain in power

On Wednesday, Truss apologized and admitted she had made mistakes during her tenure but claimed that she has "taken responsibility and made the right decisions in the interest of the country’s economic stability." She vowed to stay in power, calling herself "a fighter and not a quitter."

Within hours, a senior cabinet minister, Home Secretary Suella Braverman, quit, blasting Truss in her resignation letter, saying she had "concerns about the direction of this government." 

For many Conservative lawmakers, the final straw was a Wednesday evening vote over fracking for shale gas that produced chaotic scenes in Parliament, with party whips accused of using heavy-handed tactics to gain votes.

Chris Bryant, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour Party, said he "saw members being physically manhandled … and being bullied." Conservative officials denied this.

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What happens next?

Truss will remain in office until a replacement is chosen. The Conservative Party said a new leader would be in place by Oct. 28 with nominations set to close Monday. Sunak, Johnson, House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace are among the list of potential replacements.

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Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves after the Commonwealth Service on Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey in London March 14, 2022.  | AP Newsroom

Candidates need the signatures of 100 of the 357 Conservative lawmakers, meaning a maximum field of three. Lawmakers will knock out one of those and ask the party’s 172,000 members to decide between the two finalists in an online vote. 

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"There can be no more vacillating, dithering or U-turns," AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson said. "Volatility, which has been a hallmark of global markets this year, is most definitely here to stay in U.K. markets, at least for now. Time is short and credibility is on the line, but it is ordinary people’s finances that should be the priority."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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