Jonathan Ashworth has said it is “unacceptable” that the Tory Party plans to “force” another Conservative Prime Minister on the country following Liz Truss’ resignation and argued that they have “no mandate” to continue in government.
Truss announced she was stepping down as Prime Minister in a statement this afternoon. She said a Tory leadership election will conclude “within the next week” to pick her successor, with her remaining in post until the contest is completed.
Speaking to Sky News, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said: “It’s clear to me now that the Conservatives have no mandate to continue in government. The economic crisis the British people are facing, with soaring mortgage rates, is a direct consequence of decisions taken in Downing Street.
“And the idea that Tory MPs here can stitch up and force upon the country another Tory Prime Minister by denying the British public any say in that decision whatsoever is unacceptable.
“People have had enough. We need a government that will clear up this economic mess, stabilise the economy, rebuild our public services. We need a general election now.”
Truss said during her statement: “I came into office at a time of great economic and international instability. Families and businesses were worried about how to pay their bills.
“Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine threatens the security of our whole continent and our country has been held back for too long by low economic growth. I was elected by the Conservative Party with a mandate to change this.”
“I recognise, though, given the situation. I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party,” the former Prime Minister added.
Commenting on Truss’ resignation, Keir Starmer argued that the Conservatives “cannot respond to their latest shambles by yet again simply clicking their fingers and shuffling the people at the top without the consent of the British people”.
The Labour leader said: “Britain is not their personal fiefdom to run how they wish. The British public deserve a proper say on the country’s future.
“They must have the chance to compare the Tories’ chaos with Labour’s plans to sort out their mess, grow the economy for working people and rebuild the country for a fairer, greener future. We must have a chance at a fresh start. We need a general election – now.”
Several candidates have already been identified as potential Tory leadership contenders. According to The Guardian, Suella Braverman – who resigned as Home Secretary on Wednesday – is expected to stand, along with International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch.
Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak will reportedly put himself forward, and Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt is understood to be considering standing.
The Times has reported that Boris Johnson is also expected to stand. The former Prime Minister was forced to resign in July following numerous scandals and an unprecedented number of resignations from the Tory frontbench.
Commenting on the potential return of Johnson, Starmer said: “Let’s remember that it was three months ago pretty much that he resigned in disgrace. He resigned because dozens of his frontbench were resigning themselves, saying he was unfit for office.”
“So if they’re going to go from this experiment, this chaos, this economic damage, [and] wind back three months to a man who was deemed to be unfit for office, I think that only adds insult to injury for the public,” the Labour leader declared.
Braverman, Badenoch, Sunak and Mordaunt all stood in the leadership contest over the summer that resulted in Truss’ election. Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace are among other names mentioned as potential candidates.
"People have had enough."
Labour's @JonAshworth says the Conservatives have "no mandate to continue in government" and must hold a general election rather than 'forcing' another Tory PM on the public.
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— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 20, 2022