Analysis: After Beating Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss Must Now Convince Tory MPs She's Up To The Job

The new prime minister is already on the back foot as she prepares to move into 10 Downing Street.
Liz Truss prepares to deliver her victory speech after becoming Tory leader.
Liz Truss prepares to deliver her victory speech after becoming Tory leader.
STEFAN ROUSSEAU via Getty Images

On the face of it, Liz Truss’s margin of victory over Rishi Sunak was pretty healthy.

The UK’s next prime minister defeated her bitter rival by 57 per cent to 43 per cent, or 20,927 votes.

In a two horse, that is a comfortable win. Put it this way, it’s a more comprehensive result than Scotland’s decision to stay in the UK (55-45) and the UK’s departure from the EU (52-48).

But unfortunately for our new PM, it’s not quite as straightforward as that.

For a start, every opinion poll during the 12-week contest put Truss at least 20 points ahead of Sunak, meaning her lead got smal the more Tory members saw of her.

Then there is the fact that the last three Tory leaders to actually face a contest for the top job - Iain Duncan Smith, David Cameron and Boris Johnson - all won stronger mandates than Truss from the party’s rank-and-file.

But even more significantly, fewer than half - around 150 - Tory MPs publicly declared their support for Truss.

That means that on her first day in the job, Truss will already be facing an uphill battle to convince her colleagues that she has what it takes to be PM.

And as my colleague Alex Rogers lists here, that’s before she begins to tackle the most daunting in-tray to face an incoming prime minister since Margaret Thatcher in 1979.

But if there is one thing Truss’s political career tells us, it is that she is a survivor.

Before becoming the MP for South West Norfolk in 2010, she faced an attempt to oust her as the Tory candidate over revelations of an affair she had with the then Conservative MP Mark Field.

Truss survived the ordeal, comfortably won the seat and began her journey to Number 10 in earnest.

She will need all of that resolve and more if she is to make a success of her time as prime minister.


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