Defiant Liz Truss stands aside saying 'brighter days are ahead' but refuses to apologise for chaos

25 October 2022, 09:44 | Updated: 25 October 2022, 11:25

Liz Truss farewells speech comp
Liz Truss has given her farewell speech after just seven days in office. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty

By James Hockaday

Liz Truss said "brighter days lie ahead" as she delivered her final address to the nation as prime minister this morning before handing over to Rishi Sunak.

She said the nation continues to "battle through a storm" as it faces unprecedented economic challenges but that she "believes in the British people" in a speech outside Number 10.

Her successor, who finished second to her in the previous Conservative party leadership race over the summer, is the UK's fifth PM in just over six years.

Ms Truss announced her resignation on Thursday after just 44 full days in office, making her the shortest serving prime minister in British history.

She said it was a great honour to serve the country, but refused to apologise for the economic chaos her brief spell in Number 10 caused in her farewell speech this morning.

Ms Truss held her second and final cabinet meeting this morning before making her address, in which she said: "I wish Rishi Sunak every success for the good of our country."

New UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Takes Office
Ms Truss gave her best to her successor Rishi Sunak, who came second to her in this summer's leadership contest. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty
New UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Takes Office
The outgoing prime minister's economic agenda was torn to shreds after badly damaging the Tories' credibility. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty

Her proposed £45 billion package of tax cuts - mainly benefiting the wealthy and funded by more public borrowing - sent markets into a panic and the value of the pound crashing.

The outgoing leader's agenda also was at odds with the Bank of England's attempts to bring rampant inflation under control and attracted unusual criticisms from the International Monetary Fund.

Ms Truss sacked her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, and his replacement Jeremy Hunt tore up most of the so-called "mini-budget" in an attempt to soothe investors' concerns and salvage the Tories' reputation for fiscal responsibility.

MPs on both sides of the house said Ms Truss had no authority left and called for her to go, and while she hung on for a few more days, she eventually accepted she no longer had a mandate to deliver the vision she was elected over.

But the outgoing PM defended her record, saying: "In just a short period, this government has acted urgently and decisively on the side of hard working families and businesses.

Read more: Disillusioned Tory members quit after Rishi Sunak made party leader

Ms Truss, leaves Downing Street with her husband Hugh O'Leary and daughters Frances and Liberty. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty
Ministers pose for a selfie outside Number 10. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty

"We reversed the National Insurance increase. We helped millions of households with their energy bills, and helped thousands of businesses avoid bankruptcy.

"We are taking back our energy independence so we are never again beholden to global market fluctuations, or malign foreign powers.

"From my time as prime minister, I'm more convinced than ever that we need to be bold and confront the challenges that we face."

She added: "As the Roman philosopher Seneca wrote, 'It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it's because we do not dare that they are difficult'."

Her predecessor Boris Johnson also made a reference to the Roman Empire in his farewell speech, with his nod to statesman Cincinnatus seen as a hint of a political comeback.

Read more: Tories have 'turned a corner' and will 'settle down' under Rishi Sunak's watch, former minister claims

Truss refused to apologise for the economic chaos her brief premiership caused. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty
New UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Takes Office
King Charles III arrives at Buckingham Palace to meet Ms Truss on her formal resignation. Picture: Getty . Picture: Getty

Ms Truss, who was characterised as embracing the idea of "trickle down economics" and having a low tax agenda, said: "We simply cannot afford to be a low-growth country where the government takes up an increasing share of our national wealth and where there are huge divides between different parts of our country.

"We need to take advantage of our Brexit freedoms, to do things differently. This means delivering more freedom for our own citizens, and restoring power to democratic institutions.

"It means lower taxes, so people can keep more of the money that they earn. And it means delivering growth that will lead to more job security, higher wages, and greater opportunities for our children and grandchildren."

Ms Truss said democracies must "outcompete autocratic regimes where power lies in the hands of a few" and that "Ukraine must prevail" over Russia's aggression, stressing the importance of Britain strengthening its defences.

So far Mr Sunak has refused to commit to spending 3% of GDP on defence, but Ben Wallace is expected to stay on as defence secretary, the Telegraph reports.

Read more: Andrew Marr: 'Rishi Sunak is the Tory party's last chance'

New UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Takes Office
Rishi Sunak will be the UK's fifth PM in just over six years. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty

Signing off her speech, Ms Truss said: "Our country continues to battle through a storm. But I believe in Britain, I believe in the British people and I know that brighter days lie ahead. Thank you."

Her address came before travelling to Buckingham Palace to officially submit her resignation to the King. The monarch will then invite Mr Sunak and officially invite him to become prime minister at around 11am.

At 11.15am Mr Sunak is set to make his first address to the nation as PM and is expected to start making cabinet appointments this afternoon.

He is expected to keep Jeremy Hunt on as chancellor, which will help ensure a sense of continuity ahead of the October 31 fiscal budget.

Conservative former minister Victoria Atkins refused to be drawn on whether Mr Sunak will push ahead with the debt plan announced by Mr Hunt last week.

Read more: Sunak's in-tray: what challenges will the PM face during his first week in office?

Read more: Rishi Sunak facts: Policies, background and wife and children - everything you need to know

Pressed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Atkins described the incoming PM as a "compassionate but fiscally prudent Conservative", but said it is not possible to give full details about his plan before his premiership officially begins.

Whatever he does, Mr Sunak will have a difficult challenge uniting a bitterly divided Conservative party which is trailing behind in the polls against Labour.

Some Conservative members are delighted and relieved at his appointment, adding that it is "nice to have a grown-up back in control".

But others are dismayed and disillusioned and are cancelling their memberships, claiming they can no longer trust the Tory party.

As both Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the latest race, Mr Sunak won the contest by default, leading some to describe his journey into Number 10 as a "coronation".

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