Liz Truss missed out on equalling George Canning’s tenure in office by 70 days. But our shortest-serving Prime Minister managed to pack a lot into her seven weeks in Downing Street. Hence why somebody who was elected by a margin of 57.4 per cent to 42.6 per cent against Rishi Sunak in September could find herself on the backbenches by Halloween.
Still, Truss was elected by party members on a particular prospectus, and for all the drama of the mini-Budget, she did attempt to deliver it. So to see that three quarters of our panel believe she was right to resign is remarkable. In our last survey of the summer’s leadership election, 60 per cent said they would vote for her, and only 28 per cent Sunak. So a lot of those saying she was right to resign voted for her only two months before.
What prompted the reversal? Has there been some buyer’s remorse over Trussonomics? Or a recognition that the political realities Truss faced were sufficiently poor that, even if they liked her and believed in her, our panel could see she had to go? They do suggest, as did this morning’s findings, that Sunak’s position amongst members is already more secure than Truss’s. Her failure is his mandate.
That 21 per cent of members think she was wrong to resign might suggest there are more Tufton Street residents, ardent Swifties, and Norwich City supporters on our panel than we had hitherto thought. Yet they reflect a substantial subsection of party opinion. Truss was elected by the members, and Sunak was rejected by them. To have her forced out so quickly – leaving asides her own mistakes – suggests a disloyalty amongst MPs that some members find distasteful.