Liz Truss hailed her ‘significant achievements’ today as she gave her farewell speech in Downing Street – sealing her fate as the shortest-serving PM ever.
Ms Truss made a defiant valedictory speech in Downing Street – with little hint of emotion and no apology – as she drew a line under a disastrous 49 days at the helm of the country.
Watched by husband Hugh, her two daughters, and No10 staff and aides, she said it had been a ‘huge honour to lead the country’. ‘In just a short period this government has acted urgently and decisively… we helped millions of households with their energy bills,’ she said.
Earlier, she gathered her Cabinet one last time, telling them they had been in charge at a ‘vital moment in the history of our country’.
In an uncompromising message despite the markets carnage caused by the mini-Budget, she added that ‘lower taxes’ are needed and the country cannot be ‘low growth’.
‘I believe in Britain… I know that brighter days lie ahead,’ she added.
Ms Truss has now been to see the King at Buckingham Palace and formally resigned.
Rishi Sunak – whom she defeated soundly for the Tory leadership just seven weeks ago – is being installed in her place. Friends say she will ‘take a break’ from politics.
‘From my time as Prime Minister I’m more convinced than ever that we need to be bold and confront the challenges we face,’ Ms Truss said.
‘We simply cannot afford to be a low-growth country where the Government takes up an increasing share of our national wealth and where there are huge divides between different parts of our country. We need to take advantage of our Brexit freedoms to do things differently.’
The ignominious departure comes as Mr Sunak gears up for a dramatic day as he faces a hellish in-tray, with more evidence of soaring inflation and a £40billion black hole in the public finances.
The new PM will give his own address to the nation from outside No10 this morning, and turn his mind to forming his first Cabinet.
Aides have insisted Mr Sunak will create a ‘big tent’ rather than only promoting his allies as Ms Truss did. Jeremy Hunt is almost certain to stay on as Chancellor, a week before the crucial Halloween Budget and after the markets calmed somewhat, while Grant Shapps could hang on to the Home Office.
But he is expected to find a big job for leadership rival Penny Mordaunt, as well as right-wingers such as Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch. There could also be returns for Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, and former education secretary Gavin Williamson.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who backed Ms Truss over the summer and then Boris Johnson’s abortive comeback bid over the weekend, is likely to make way – possibly for Ms Mordaunt.
An early area of tension will be military spending, with respected Defence Secretary Ben Wallace seen as at risk after Mr Sunak refused to commit to increasing budgets to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030.
The new premier told MPs yesterday that he wanted his government to represent the ‘views and opinions’ from across the Conservative Party.