In less than two months, two Conservative Prime Ministers have resigned – it begs the question, do we need a general election?
Only moments ago, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss gave a statement outside Downing Street and resigned as Prime Minister after just six weeks in office. This makes Truss the shortest-serving Prime Minister in UK history.
And it was only less than two months ago, on 6th September, that Boris Johnson resigned as Prime Minister.
Truss’s premiership came under renewed pressure following the resignation of the home secretary Suella Braverman and a chaotic vote on fracking.
In her statement, Truss explained that she felt unable to deliver the mandate on which she was elected as Tory leader and had notified the King that she was resigning.
Truss’s resignation statement in full
“I came into office at a time of great economic and international instability. Families and businesses were worried about how to pay their bills. Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine threatens the security of our whole continent. And our country has been held back for too long by low economic growth.
“I was elected by the Conservative party with a mandate to change this. We delivered on energy bills and on cutting national insurance. And we set out a vision for a low tax high growth economy that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit.
“I recognise though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party.
“This morning I met the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. We’ve agreed that there will be a leadership election to be completed within the next week.
“This will ensure that we remain on a path to deliver our fiscal plans and maintain our country’s economic stability and national security. I will remain as prime minister until a successor has been chosen. Thank you.”
Liz Truss has resigned, what happens now?
Sir Graham Brady, Chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, says he expects a Tory leadership result by Friday next week.
There had been speculation the rules of the contest could be changed to exclude members.
But many others, including the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer, are calling for a general election.
Starmer: ‘The Conservative Party has shown it no longer has a mandate to govern’
After 12 years of Tory failure, the British people deserve so much better than this revolving door of chaos.
We need a general election, now.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/NAQz70eVke
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) October 20, 2022
Arguments for a general election
Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer believes that the Conservative Party no longer has the mandate to govern.
Another key figure arguing for a general election is Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey. He posted on Twitter: “We don’t need another Conservative Prime Minister lurching from crisis to crisis. We need a General Election now and the Conservatives out of power.”
We don't need another Conservative Prime Minister lurching from crisis to crisis.
We need a General Election now and the Conservatives out of power.
— Ed Davey (@EdwardJDavey) October 20, 2022
First Minister of Wales and Welsh Labour Leader Mr Drakeford said there had been a “complete and utter failure of government with everyone in this country now having to pay the price”.
He added: “Unfortunately, the deep and intractable divisions within the government means that any successor put forward will face the same set of challenges.
‘A general election is now the only way to end this paralysis’
“A general election is now the only way to end this paralysis.”
Plaid Cymru also backed this call, commenting that the “chaotic circus” was “proof once and for all that Westminster will never work for Wales”.
In a joint statement, Plaid Cymru party’s Leader Adam Price and Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts concluded: “Another prime minister gone but there is still no recognition that it’s not the individuals in Downing Street that’s the problem, but the fundamental contradictions within the Tory party as a whole.
“We urgently need a general election so that the people of Wales can reject this Westminster chaos at the ballot box.”
Mr Davies comments: “The new prime minister must grip this situation quickly, and provide leadership, confidence and hope to people across our nation.”
‘A general election is now a democratic imperative’
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has also Tweeted: “There are no words to describe this utter shambles adequately. It’s beyond hyperbole – & parody.
“Reality tho is that ordinary people are paying the price. The interests of the Tory party should concern no-one right now. A general election is now a democratic imperative.”
Colum Eastwood MP, leader of the SDLP, has added list name to the list of politicians calling for a general election: “The Conservative Party has no mandate to govern. Moving the deckchairs around the Tory Titanic will not deliver the radical change that people in Northern Ireland need in terms of support from the cost of living crisis, help to address soaring interest rates and the restoration of devolved government.
“It is far beyond time for a change of government in London and a new Labour led administration that will put an end to this disastrous Conservative rule.”
And it’s not just politicians who want a general election – former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has called for a general election, adding that he considers the current government an “absolute sham”.
Arguments against a general election
Liz Truss believes that the UK is not ready for a general election. Recently at PMQs, Truss said: “Mr Speaker, I think the last thing we need is a general election,” to which Labour erupted in laughter, and shouts of “more” could be heard even as PMQs concluded.
Former Conservative Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb believes that it is not a general election his party need, but a “swift and clean leadership election to provide the country with stable government”. Crabb thinks that Rishi Sunak would make a great contender.
Political commentator Piers Morgan does not think it is time for a general election yet either. His recent Tweet summarises his views:
Seize the moment @RishiSunak – you’re the right person to now lead the country & restore some kind of stability/integrity. These are serious times and we need a serious & competent Prime Minister. pic.twitter.com/Yk7NAjr4OK
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 20, 2022
Technically, since Boris Johnson won the last general election on 12 December 2019 with a landslide victory, some argue that the Conservative Party still have a mandate to govern until the next general election which will be held no later than January 2025. Others would disagree.
Who will be the next Prime Minister?
According to recent YouGov polls, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak come out as the most popular candidates for future Prime Minister.
Were Liz Truss to resign, Boris Johnson tops the list of potential successors Tory members would most like to see replace her
— YouGov (@YouGov) October 18, 2022
But, if there is a general election soon, Labour is currently the favourite to win. In fact, the opposition party is currently 17 points ahead of the Conservatives – a level of support that they have not seen since 2001 when Tony Blair was Prime Minister.
Should there be a general election? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
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