British Prime Minister Liz Truss is struggling to stay in power after the collapse of her economic program shattered her authority in just over six weeks in office.
The image of Truss sitting expressionlessly in parliament on Monday, while her new Chancellor of the Exchequer scrapped the program of tax cuts and deregulation that secured her promotion to Downing Street, has prompted calls for the 47-year-old politician to resign.
A handful of Truss’ Conservative MPs have already said he must step down, but Britain’s dominant political party is deeply divided after 12 years in power, limiting its ability to agree on a replacement who can unite warring factions.
Truss is already the UK’s fourth prime minister in six years, after the country’s tortuous exit from the European Union combined with the COVID-19 pandemic to produce one of the most turbulent times in British politics in recent years. 50 years.
Here are the details of how Truss could be removed and who could replace her:
Anyone who has followed British politics in recent years will have heard of the role of the 1922 Committee, the body that has the power to force out a Conservative leader.
Both Boris Johnson and Theresa May faced, and survived, no-confidence motions from the committee, but in both cases they resigned soon after. A prime minister is not supposed to suffer a vote in his first year, but the committee has been willing to change the rules in the past.
Normally, 15% of the more than 350 Conservative Party MPs would have to ask for the motion. The committee’s treasurer has said an “overwhelming majority” would have to call for a vote to get it done in the first year.
RESIGNATION BEFORE PRESSURE FROM THE PARTY
Alternatively, Truss could step down if he decides he has lost his party’s support, but has so far said he will keep fighting. Johnson was forced to resign after his ministers walked out en masse, but Truss’s cabinet has remained loyal so far.
WHO WOULD WANT THE POSITION?
Given the divisions in the party, there is no obvious candidate and any replacement would face a country likely headed for recession. The most prominent names are the following:
The former British Chancellor of the Exchequer was the most popular candidate among Conservative MPs at Westminster but, after going into a runoff against Truss, lost in a vote involving some 170,000 members of the party who have the final say.
Many members were angry when Sunak resigned in July, helping spark a rebellion that eventually brought down Johnson. They also ignored his warning that markets could lose confidence in the UK if Truss presented his unfunded tax cuts.
Bookmaker Betfair lists Sunak as favorite to replace Truss, but lawmakers who remain loyal to Johnson are likely to oppose the former Chancellor of the Exchequer.
With Truss’ economic program collapsing, the prime minister sacked her Chancellor of the Exchequer and turned to Hunt, the former Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs, to put her house in order.
A series of confident performances on television and in the House of Commons, while trashing Truss’s economic programme, have already led some Conservative MPs to refer to Hunt as the “real Prime Minister”.
He has insisted he does not want the top job, despite having participated in two previous races to become prime minister, including in 2019, when he lost in the final round to Johnson. Hunt does not have the clear support of a large group of MPs in Parliament.
The British Defense Secretary is one of the few ministers to have emerged from the recent political turmoil with his credibility bolstered. Wallace, a former soldier, was defense minister to both Johnson and Truss, and led the British response to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
Popular with party members, he surprised many earlier this year when he said he would not run for leadership, saying he wanted to focus on his current job. This week he told the Times newspaper that he still wanted to be in charge of Defense.
A former defense secretary, Mordaunt was a passionate supporter of leaving the EU who narrowly missed out on the runoff in the recent leadership race.
Mordaunt won applause for his performance in Parliament on Monday, when he defended the government even as it backtracked on most of its policies.
One lawmaker has described Mordaunt as having “broad appeal”, referring to his ability to find friends across the party’s various tribes.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a journalist, has been prominent in British politics since becoming Mayor of London in 2008. After causing trouble for leaders like David Cameron and Theresa May, he eventually became Prime Minister in 2019 and won a landslide electoral victory.
Johnson was the face of the Brexit vote, winning votes in parts of the country that had never voted Conservative. But he was forced to leave by a series of scandals.
Some of those close to him say he’s more interested in making money on the speaking circuit right now than getting back on the political front lines.