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Keep Calm and Carry On or quit: Is Truss certain to be ousted and how might it happen?

The British Prime Minister is battling to save her position despite several Tory MPs publicly calling for her to resign.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Liz Truss is battling to save her position in the wake of a humiliating U-turn on the UK government’s mini budget and calls for her to resign from her own Tory MPs.

Newly appointed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt moved yesterday to scrap most of Truss’s economic package, which caused massive turmoil in markets when it was announced last month, leading to the sacking of now ex-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. 

Despite the markets calming since yesterday’s announcement, five Conservative MPs have so far publicly called for her to step aside.

But Truss has insisted that she is not willing to resign and is determined to lead her party into the next general election, which is scheduled to be held no later than January 2025. 

However, it could happen sooner than that. Here are some of the potential ways the prime minister could end up leaving Number 10. 

Keep calm and carry on

With Truss reiterating that she has no plans to step down, this option seems to be the one she’s sticking with for the moment.  

But to remain in power, she will need the support of not only the public, but members of her own party, both of which seems to be waning.

According to a new YouGov poll, a majority of Conservative party members – including 39% of members who voted for her in the summer – think Truss should now resign. 

The results show that 83% of Tory backers think Truss is doing badly, with just 15% saying she is doing well.

With the next election not for another two years at least, Truss faces a steep climb in order to see her term through to January 2025. 

No confidence vote

With this in mind, the 1922 Committee – the group of Tory backbenchers which sets the rules for how Conservative leaders are chosen – could play a crucial role in determining the future of Truss’s premiership.

Any Tory MP who feels they have lost confidence in a sitting prime minister can send a letter to the committee chairman Graham Brady calling for a vote of no confidence.

A no confidence vote in a sitting leader must be held if 15% of MPs submit letters of no confidence in them. The current 15% threshold is 54 MPs.

The rules of the committee stipulates that a prime minister can’t face a confidence vote during their first year in office, which would mean Truss would be safe until September 2023. 

However, the committee could remove this restriction if there was enough pressure from MPs.

At least 50% of Tory MPs would then have to vote “no confidence” in the ballot for the prime minister to lose. This would then trigger a leadership contest. 

If this were to happen and Truss survived the ballot, there is no guarantee that she would continue in the role. Her predecessor Boris Johnson survived a confidence ballot earlier this year, but resigned in the aftermath when a wave of over 50 MPs resigned in a matter of days. 

Leadership contest

Another Tory leadership contest could take place if a confidence ballot is held, or if Truss resigns. 

Leadership contests consist of two stages. In the first stage, Tory MPs put themselves forward as candidates and the party votes in a series of rounds until only two candidates are left. 

The second stage of the contest sees Conservative Party members vote on the two remaining candidates. 

Truss came out on top in the last leadership contest after a majority of party members voted for her over rival Rishi Sunak, despite him winning more votes from sitting MPs. 

It could also happen that only one candidate is nominated and becomes leader without a vote of party members. This is how Theresa May became prime minister following the resignation of David Cameron in 2016. 

It is likely that the Tories do not want to stage another leadership contest due to fears that another show of public rivalry could further damage their electoral prospects in the future. 

With the party already divided, there is still a chance that MPs could decide on a “unity candidate” that they could back in order to avoid another full-blown leadership race. 

Messages from a Conservative Party WhatsApp group shared with Sky News saw Crispin Blunt – one of the MPs calling on Truss to resign – suggest that Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt should take over.

Other MPs tipped as potential replacements if Truss were to stand aside are current defence secretary Ben Wallace, newly appointment chancellor Jeremy Hunt, and even Boris Johnson. 

If a unity candidate is not put forward, the only path left that would see Truss leave Downing Street would be a general election.

General election

Opposition parties have continuously called for a general election over the last six weeks of Truss’s tenure, calls which were exacerbated in the wake of the mini budget.

But as outlined above, it’s difficult to see how one could come about before January 2025.

In order to call a general election, a sitting UK prime minister must visit the reigning monarch and ask that parliament be dissolved. While it is unlikely to happen, the king or queen can refuse a dissolution of parliament for a number of reasons.

Under the so-called “Lascelles Principles”, a British monarch can turn down an election request if the existing parliament is still seen as “vital, viable, and capable of doing its job”, if another prime minister could be reasonably found, or if an election would be “detrimental to the national economy”.

Truss is unlikely to call an election herself as it would lead to her party being wiped out if recent polls are anything to go by.

A poll published yesterday suggested the Conservatives would lose out to the Scottish National Party (SNP) as the official opposition in the House of Commons if a general election was held.

The poll, by Redfield and Wilton Strategies, put Labour at a 36-point lead, the largest for any party since October 1997.

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