More than half of Tory party members want Liz Truss to resign

Boris Johnson is the preferred candidate to take over as prime minister, YouGov poll finds

The poll was carried out as UK Prime Minister Liz Truss's mini-budget was being overturned. AP
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A poll of Conservative Party members, the people who six weeks ago voted for Liz Truss to become party leader and UK prime minster, shows a majority now want her to resign.

More than half, 55 per cent, said Ms Truss should step down and 38 per cent want her to stay on as leader, the YouGov poll found on Tuesday, as she battles for her political life after her agenda was ripped up by her newly-installed chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Monday. She apologised for mistakes during a TV interview on Monday night but it may not prove enough to win over her rebellious party.

More than 80 per cent of party members think Ms Truss, who assumed office on September 6, is doing a bad job, the YouGov poll showed.

Ten per cent of people in Britain have a favourable opinion of the prime minister, while 80 per cent view her unfavourably, another survey suggested.

Ms Truss held a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and promised to fight to stay in the job, even as pressure grows from MPs angry over the way her mini-budget caused markets to panic, the pound to slide and mortgage rates to rise — amid a cost-of-living crisis caused by rampant inflation.

Mr Hunt, who succeeded Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday, told the Cabinet meeting that spending cuts were on the way.

As the meeting broke up, there was less than convincing support for the prime minister. Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said Ms Truss "probably" has the backing of ministers.

In her TV appearance, Ms Truss said she had “adjusted what we’re doing” by tearing up her policies to “restore economic stability”.

“I do think it is the mark of an honest politician who does say, yes, I’ve made a mistake,” she told the BBC.

Ms Truss said she wanted to “accept responsibility and say sorry for the mistakes that have been made”.

“I wanted to act … to help people with their energy bills to deal with the issue of high taxes, but we went too far and too fast. I’ve acknowledged that,” she told the BBC.

She said she was “sticking around” because she was “elected to deliver for this country”.

“I will lead the Conservatives into the next general election.”

Downing Street insisted the Cabinet fully supported the Prime Minister and stressed that Ms Truss was focused on the challenges facing the country rather than party infighting.

Asked whether Ms Truss was concerned about ministers discussing replacing her, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Her view is she needs to be focused on what is right for the country rather than on any internal discussions among the party at the moment.

“She is conscious that these are globally difficult times and the UK is in a difficult situation economically.”

Earlier, Ms Truss was warned by a senior minister that she cannot afford to make any more mistakes as she battles to stay in No 10.

Armed forces minister James Heappey said: “She’s very much our Prime Minister and, for what it’s worth, I think she’s doing a good job.”

But he told Sky News that “given how skittish our politics are” at the moment “I don’t think there’s the opportunity to make any more mistakes”.

Party rules state that a party leader cannot face a confidence vote during their first year in office, but there are ways to change the rule book and increase the pressure on the prime minister.

The survey YouGov poll was carried out on Monday and Tuesday as her mini-budget spending plans were being overturned by Mr Hunt.

The poll of 530 members is not large enough to be considered representative of the wider membership, but YouGov has frequently provided a good indication of the mood among party members.

Among party members, former prime minister Boris Johnson is the favourite to succeed Ms Truss with 32 per cent, former chancellor Rishi Sunak was second on 23 per cent and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on 10 per cent.

About 60 per cent said they would back a proposal of a unity candidate to succeed Ms Truss being chosen without members having a say.

In the YouGov poll, 83 per cent of Tory members said Ms Truss was doing badly as Conservative leader, compared with 15 per cent who said she was doing well and 2 per cent were unsure.

The second YouGov study, conducted among 1,724 British adults between October 14 and 16, found that Ms Truss's net favourability has plummeted to minus 70.

Among Tory voters her support continues to drop – 20 per cent had a favourable view, with 71 per cent had an unfavourable view.

The prime minister's net favourability score of minus 51 among Tory voters is down 26 points since last week.

Updated: October 18, 2022, 3:13 PM