LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned Thursday after just 44 days in office, firing the starting gun on yet another Conservative Party leadership contest.
It means Truss becomes Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister in history and the third Conservative leader to quit in as many years. Her resignation kickstarts the search for a new leader at a time when the country faces a worsening cost-of-living crisis and a looming economic recession.
Her short speech Thursday confirmed she no longer felt she had the authority to govern after a failed tax-cutting budget that rocked financial markets and led to a rebellion in her political party.
As Conservative candidates race to gather the support of their colleagues, here’s a look at how the process of finding the U.K.’s next prime minister is expected to work.
What happens now?
The race to find Truss’ replacement is already well underway.
Graham Brady, the Conservative politician who oversees leadership votes and reshuffles, outlined on Thursday how the fast-tracked leadership election will proceed this time around.
Brady said he hoped the process would be concluded by Oct. 28, but the result could come much sooner than that — potentially as early as Monday evening.
Candidates vying to succeed Truss as prime minister have until 2 p.m. London time on Monday to gather the support of at least 100 Conservative Members of Parliament to run. It is a particularly high bar of nominations for a party composed of 357 MPs and caps the number of candidates able to contest for the leadership to a maximum of three.
Brady said nominations could be accepted via signature or by email and the ballots would be conducted as necessary thereafter. He told reporters that MPs will have the chance to hear from the nominated candidates at a hustings on Monday afternoon, although these will be held behind closed doors.
If only one candidate receives 100 nominations on Monday, they will become the next leader of the party and the new prime minister.
If there are two candidates with 100 nominations, an indicative ballot will be held on Monday afternoon to show the level of support each has in the party. It is thought that the candidate with the fewest number of votes may step down at this stage to avoid an online ballot among the party membership.
And if there are three candidates in the running on Monday, the one with the fewest number of votes from MPs will be eliminated in results announced at 6 p.m. London time. An indicative ballot of the two remaining candidates would then follow, with the result announced later that evening.
Conservative Party Chairman Jake Berry said Thursday it had been agreed that should the party put forward two candidates, there would be an “expedited, binding online vote of Conservative Party members.”
In this scenario, Conservative members would take part in an online vote to choose the next leader of the party.
The ballot will close at 11 a.m. London time on Oct. 28 and the winner will be declared later that day.
Who’s in the running?
The race to become Britain’s next prime minister, and the fifth since the Conservatives took power in 2010, has yet not seen anyone announce their intention to run for office.
However, it is thought former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, former Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt and — despite being ousted from office just three months ago — former Prime Minister Boris Johnson could be among the main contenders.
What happens after the winner is declared?
Once the winner of the leadership contest has been declared, Britain’s King Charles will then ask them to form a government, making them the next prime minister in the process.
Thereafter, the new prime minister will not have long to prepare before the scheduled medium-term fiscal plan announcement on Oct. 31.