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Awake all night and sending texts to friends at 4am: How Liz Truss's last day in No. 10 unfolded

Jimie 2022. 10. 21. 08:16

Awake all night and sending texts to friends at 4am: How Liz Truss's last day in No. 10 unfolded as her fate was sealed

  • Liz Truss dramatically resigned as Prime Minister this afternoon after lasting just 44 days in the top job
  • Her close friends said they knew she was going to quit after they began receiving texts from her at 4am
  • Sir Graham Brady told her later that day she had lost the party's support and would lose a confidence vote


PUBLISHED: 08:01 AEDT, 21 October 2022 | UPDATED: 08:35 AEDT, 21 October 2022


Liz Truss’s closest allies knew the game was finally up yesterday when their mobile phones started to light up shortly after 4am.

The Prime Minister had been texting friends late into the night after a chaotic day in Westminster which saw her sack her home secretary and then plead with her Chief Whip not to resign a few hours later.

Amid fractious scenes in the Commons voting lobbies on Wednesday night, Tory MPs were heard shouting at her, ‘It’s a shambles,’ after a chaotic vote which left rebel MPs unsure whether they were being expelled from the party.


‘She sounded spooked by how fast things were happening,’ said one ally. ‘But she still thought she could survive.

‘Then the texts started to come through again the next morning and her mood had changed. It’s never a good sign to be texting people at 4am and by that point she seemed to have realised it was probably over.’

Outside Downing Street, the mood among Conservative MPs was also darkening. First out of the blocks was North Dorset MP Simon Hoare, who popped up on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme shortly after 7am to deliver a damning verdict.

‘The unsettling thing is that there isn’t a route plan – it is hand-to-hand fighting on a day-to-day basis,’ he said. ‘Can the ship be turned round? Yes, but there is about 12 hours to do it.’

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Prime Minister Liz Truss was texting her closest allies at 4am - by which point they said she seemed to have realised it 'was probably over'

Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan was the Cabinet minister handed the thankless task of trying to defend the Government on the morning broadcast round while the administration was in freefall.

Four times she was asked if Miss Truss would lead the Conservatives into the next election and four times she dodged the question. Mrs Trevelyan insisted the Government was still ‘functioning’ but struggled to point to much evidence to back her case.

In the eyes of many MPs, Miss Truss’s fate was sealed six days earlier when she sacked her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, and scrapped her flagship plan to cut corporation tax.

Any lingering doubt was removed on Monday when she sat expressionless in the Commons, looking on as new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt dismantled her entire agenda.

Lord Frost, once an ardent supporter of Miss Truss, captured her credibility crisis neatly, saying: ‘The Government is implementing neither the programme Liz Truss originally advocated nor the 2019 manifesto. It is going in a completely different direction... There is no shred of a mandate for this.’

Other members of the Tory Right, which was once the mainstay of her support, agreed.

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Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey arrived at the rear of Downing Street to join the meeting with the Liz Truss and Sir Graham Brady

Veteran MP Sheryll Murray, who was still defending the PM publicly last week, broke ranks to say: ‘I had high hopes for Liz Truss but after what happened last night her position has become untenable.’

Fellow West Country veteran Sir Gary Streeter, who hails from the opposite wing of the party, suggested that even divine intervention might not be enough to rescue the Conservatives.

‘Sadly, it seems we must change leader,’ he said. ‘But even if the angel Gabriel now takes over, the Parliamentary Party has to urgently rediscover discipline, mutual respect and teamwork if we are to govern the UK well and avoid slaughter at the next election.’

Many in the Cabinet had also concluded that Miss Truss could not go on but wanted her to stay to at least oversee the Halloween Budget, when Mr Hunt will attempt to fill a £40billion black hole in the public finances. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs, felt the same.

Sir Graham, who spent last week on holiday in Greece, returned to a wave of pressure to change the party’s rules which preclude a formal vote of confidence in a new leader for their first year.

Tories say he told those agitating for the PM’s removal to wait and see how they felt after October 31. But all that changed after the PM’s personal Black Wednesday.

Miss Truss just about survived a ‘make or break’ session of Prime Minister’s Questions, despite a mauling from Sir Keir Starmer.

But the day then went downhill fast. By mid-afternoon she had sacked Suella Braverman as home secretary. The official pretext was a relatively trivial security breach.

In fact, sources quickly revealed the pair had had a stand-up row over immigration. Mrs Braverman did not hold back in her resignation letter, suggesting the PM should resign and saying she had ‘broken key pledges’.

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Sources revealed that Liz Truss and Suella Braverman had a stand-up row over immigration before the ex-Home Secretary quit

But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the disastrous handling of a Labour-inspired vote on fracking. Tory whips were ordered to make it a ‘confidence vote’ in the PM, meaning anyone voting against would lose the party whip.

But, as respected MPs like Tracey Crouch and Chris Skidmore announced they would rebel regardless, someone in No10 panicked. Minutes before the vote, the minister in charge was informed it was no longer a confidence vote.

Cue pandemonium. Chief Whip Wendy Morton and her deputy Craig Whittaker both quit on the spot at the undermining of their authority. Mr Whittaker was heard complaining loudly to colleagues: ‘I am f***ing furious and I don’t give a f*** any more.’

Rebels did not know whether they were going to be sacked or not. Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie tweeted yesterday morning: ‘For those asking whether I am still a Conservative MP – I don’t know but I hope so.’

The chaos – and allegations of bullying that surrounded the vote – saw the trickle of MPs calling for the PM to go turn into a torrent.

Inside No10 yesterday, Miss Truss had gathered her closest aides in the Cabinet room to discuss her exit.

Chief of staff Mark Fullbrook, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and her civil service private secretary Nick Catsaras agreed that she would need to speak to Sir Graham to assess whether there was any hope of survival before agreeing plans for the succession.

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Sir Graham Brady, speaking to the press after telling Liz Truss she had lost the confidence of the party and needed to resign

She would also need to inform the King that, after just 44 days in the job, her own reign was over.

Even within No10, her decision was a closely guarded secret.

Sir Graham was seen being ushered into No10 by a back door at 11.40am. At that moment, her official spokesman was briefing reporters that there were ‘no plans’ for her to see the 1922 chairman and that she planned to fight on.

But, outside, the clues pointing to the PM’s imminent departure were falling into place.

At 12.25pm Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey arrived at No10 to join the meeting with the PM and Sir Graham.

Fourteen minutes later, party chairman Sir Jake Berry, who would oversee the contest to find a new leader, joined the meeting.

While the world’s news cameras were focused on No10’s black door, Sir Graham was reading the PM her political last rites.


‘He told her that she did not have the support to continue and that if she tried to fight a confidence vote she would lose,’ one source said. ‘It was pretty blunt but it was nothing she hadn’t worked out for herself already.’

At 1.15pm, No10 announced that the PM would be making a statement in 15 minutes. Her official podium was erected in the street and a few minutes later she emerged with husband, Hugh O’Leary, to give a brief 90-second resignation speech. After just 44 days in office there was not much of a legacy to set out.

Shortly beforehand she had gathered staff in the Cabinet Room to announce what most of them had already guessed.

Her mood, according to those present, was remarkably upbeat and her remarks were laced with a wry humour that was not often on public display.

‘Politics is a bloodsport,’ she told them. And this time she had been the prey.


With a Mona Lisa smile she left to face life as a pub quiz answer: HENRY DEEDES watches the end of Liz Truss's short time in office

By Henry Deedes for The Dail Mail

At 1.33pm, the black door swung open and Downing Street's shortest-serving tenant was ejected on to the pavement.

Liz Truss tiptoed towards the waiting media hordes with the nervous tread of a doddery dowager entering an ice-cold swimming bath. She wore an enigmatic Mona Lisa smile: so strange, so unfitting, but so clearly designed to mask a maelstrom of emotions.

Fear, foreboding, humiliation – and few would blame her for feeling hopelessly lost, too. Just 44 days before, she had stood on the same spot and excitedly told the country of her boundless ambitions for its future.

Now, with her moving-in boxes barely unpacked in the building behind her, she was being mercilessly expelled following a truly calamitous tenure.

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HENRY DEEDES: Liz Truss tiptoed towards the waiting media hordes with the nervous tread of a doddery dowager entering an ice-cold swimming bath

With husband Hugh O'Leary standing rigidly off to one side, his hands partially clenched into fists, Truss reflected that she had been elected to spur the country into the economic growth it needed. After the sorry events of recent days, however, it was clear she was unable to deliver on her mandate. She was therefore, she said, resigning.

Well, that was one way of putting it. Something of an understatement, perhaps: 'framing the narrative,' as the spin doctors say. I'm no election guru, but I'd venture that in years to come, when undergraduates furrow their brows over the question, 'Why did Liz Truss resign as PM in 2022?', the answer 'She was unable to deliver on her mandate' might not get them a First.

Her dauntless self-belief – so handy in campaigning, such a handicap when misapplied – was once again on eye-popping show.

No apology, no regrets: just a promise to be out and gone by this time next week. This makes her, of course, the shortest-serving prime minister in British history – and a pub quiz answer to echo down the ages.

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HENRY DEEDES: This makes her, of course, the shortest-serving prime minister in British history – and a pub quiz answer to echo down the ages

The men in grey suits had moved as one. She never stood a chance.

Shortly before lunchtime, Westminster's rumour mills had clanked into action when the stately figure of Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory party's feared 1922 Committee, was glimpsed sweeping into Downing Street via the back door.

Less than an hour later, a Jaguar purred up to the same address, out of which hopped shaven-headed Conservative chairman Jake Berry.

Deputy PM Therese Coffey had turned up, too. Was it to proffer her friend and boss the much-needed Kleenex box – or to help prise the PM's fingertips from the Downing Street banister? Before long, the familiar lectern had been erected in front of No 10 like the scaffold at Tyburn. Given how fast the day had moved, the scene was eerily quiet.

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HENRY DEEDES: No tears, thank goodness. Plenty of time for sobbing later, perhaps, in Chablis-fuelled discussions of ambitions thwarted and the triumph of the anti-growth coalition

Unlike Boris's defenestration earlier this year, there were no protesters, no broadcasters' helicopters clattering above, no gathering of tearful supporters. Even that 'Stop Brexit' moron had failed to drag his ghetto blaster around in time: a cherished publicity opportunity missed. As autumn leaves danced around her, Truss let it be known she'd already informed the King of her intentions. An over-the-telephone job, we later learnt.

'Dear oh dear,' was His Majesty's exclamation when the PM recently saw him. Dear oh dear indeed.


A leadership contest would now take place, she continued. Mercifully, unlike the protracted Tory bloodbath of the summer, this would be sewn up in just a week.

'I will remain as Prime Minister until a successor has been chosen,' she added, possibly provoking a few jittery faces in the City. Let's face it, she's caused enough merry havoc in the markets.

And with that, she turned neatly on her heel and hurried inside.

No tears, thank goodness. Plenty of time for sobbing later, perhaps, in Chablis-fuelled discussions of ambitions thwarted and the triumph of the anti-growth coalition.

Moments later, outside Parliament, the BBC's Chris Mason put it to Sir Graham that the entire situation was a 'pretty good dog's dinner'. Sir Graham did not demur.

But the description is unkind to dogs' dinners, if you ask me.

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Awake all night and sending texts to friends at 4am: How Liz Truss's last day in No. 10 unfolded