How Does Liz Truss's Final Speech Compare To Other PMs?

Notably absent from her speech? An apology, much like Boris Johnson's farewell.
Liz Truss resigned on Thursday and officially ended her
Liz Truss resigned on Thursday and officially ended her
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Liz Truss has officially left No.10 after delivering a short farewell speech on the Downing Street steps.

Her replacement Rishi Sunak has already been appointed as the new prime minister, meaning he has become the UK’s fifth Tory PM in just six years.

Truss’s tenure was the shortest out of all of the UK prime ministers, lasting just 49 days.

So just how does Truss’s time at the famous prime ministerial lectern compare to her most recent predecessors in No.10?

1. Liz Truss

Time in office: 49 days.

Notable moment: The absence of the word “sorry” (in either her resignation speech or her farewell speech four days later), despite the economic crisis her mini-budget plunged the country into.

On October 20, Truss delivered an exceptionally short speech which stretched to just 90 seconds, where she claimed: “I came into office at a time of great economic and international instability.”

Rather than acknowledging her own errors, she alluded to them, saying: “I recognise though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.”

She added that she had spoke to the King to “notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party”.

When saying farewell on October 25, Truss said it was a “huge honour to be prime minister”.

She also quoted the Roman philosopher Seneca, saying: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

She tried to justify the ideology behind her disastrous policies, including claims that lower taxes means “more freedom for our own citizens”.

Truss honoured her successor too, saying: “I wish Rishi Sunak every success, for the good of our country.”

She did apologise for the “mistakes” which created financial turmoil in a BBC interview just three days before she resigned. During the same interview she also said: “I will lead the Conservatives into the next general election.”

2. Boris Johnson

Time in office: Three years, 44 days.

Notable moment: The absence of any apology for the last few weeks of chaos under his leadership, or even the word “resign”.

He simply said that “the process of choosing a new leader should begin now” because that is the will of the Parliamentary Conservative Party.

The prime minister was famously reluctant to quit, and resisted the calls to step down up until more than 50 MPs had resigned from his government.

He again referenced the “mandate” voters gave to the Tories in the 2019 election (which was his main argument for staying on in No.10).

Johnson also said that he tried to convince colleagues “it would be eccentric to change governments” and that the Tories are only “a handful of points behind in the polls”, but admitted these attempts were unsuccessful.

He then blamed “herd instinct” for the sudden wave of Tories who lost faith in him, and claimed that it was clear “no one is remotely indispensable” in politics.

He said: “I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world. But them’s the breaks.”

Johnson tried to bring his speech to a close with some optimism, saying; “Even if things can sometimes seem dark now, our future together is golden.”

He then turned away from the cameras, waved to his gathered supporters in Downing Street, including his wife Carrie Johnson and culture secretary Nadine Dorries, before walking sombrely back into No.10.

In his farewell speech, delivered on September 6, Johnson still refused to apologise but did mysteriously reference Cincinnatus, a Roman politician who returns to power at a later date.

BBC News

3. Theresa May

Time in office: Three years, 12 days.

Notable moment: Welling up while at the lectern.

Much like Johnson, May resigned despite winning a confidence vote shortly beforehand. What drove May to quit though, was a devastating loss in the European Parliament election.

Like Johnson, she admitted in her speech that she had been unable to convince MPs to back her – only in this instance, she was talking about her Brexit deal.

Unlike the current outgoing prime minister, she did use the word “resign” and admitted it was not right for her to stay on, as she could not deliver her version of Brexit.

She continued: “It is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minster to lead that effort.”

While Johnson blamed “herd instinct” for his departure and suggested everyone was replaceable, May talked about giving “people a choice” and discussed the importance of compromise.

Acknowledging her place in history as the UK’s second female prime minister, she did begin to tear up.

She and Johnson did end on a similar note, though.

She said: “Our politics may be under strain but there is so much that is good about this country. So much to be proud of. So much to be optimistic about.”

Leon Neal via Getty Images

4. David Cameron

Time in office: Six years, 64 days.

Notable moment: Whistling when his microphone was still on (although that was when he announced his departure date).

Cameron resigned when the EU referendum results were released back in 2016. Having campaigned for Remain, he said he felt it was not appropriate to continue.

Much like May – not Johnson – he said: “This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly but I do believe it’s in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.”

He also outlined his plan to have a replacement in his place by October’s party conference, and concluded: “Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way and I will do everything I can to help.

I love this country and I feel honoured to have served it and I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.”

However, just a few days later when he confirmed when his final dates in Downing Street would be, he was caught on the microphone humming happily.

5. Gordon Brown

Time in office: Two years, 319 days.

Notable moment: Walking away with his family, smiling.

Brown resigned with his wife by his side back in May 2010, and acknowledged that, without a majority in the House of Commons, he could not lead the government. It came after the general election he called that April resulted in a hung parliament, as Labour lost a staggering 91 seats.

He appeared in high spirits in his speech, telling the press: “I wish the next prime minister well as he makes the important choices for the future. Only those that have held the office of prime minister can understand the full weight of its responsibilities and its great capacity for good.”

Brown also outlined how he did not “at all” love the prestige, titles or ceremony that came with the job, but he loved it for “its potential to make this country I love fairer”.

He had an emotional conclusion too: “I leave the second most important job I could ever hold, I cherish even more the first – as a husband and father.”

Brown’s legacy lay in trying to steady the UK following the 2008 financial crash and subsequent recession.

Chris Radburn - PA Images via Getty Images

6. Tony Blair

Time in office: 10 years, 56 days.

Notable moment: Apologising “for the times I have fallen short” – but not specifically over the Iraq War.

Blair took a different tack to the more recent prime ministers. H announced his resignation during a speech in his constituency, Sedgefield, at Trimdon Labour Club, which is also where he launched his leadership campaign back in 1994.

Acknowledging he had spent a decade in No.10, Blair said: “I think that is long enough for me and more especially for the country”.

He also claimed that expectations when he was elected in 1997 were “too high, probably”.

Seemingly excusing the controversy which marred the end of his premiership, he said: “Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong – that’s your call.”

Like his successors, he tried to end on a high note and said that the country should “be excited by the opportunities, not constantly fretful of the dangers”.

“This is the greatest nation on earth. So it has been an honour to serve it,” Blair said.

“I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times that I’ve succeeded and my apologies to you for the time I’ve fallen short. But good luck.”

However, he did not apologise specifically for the Iraq War, the political move which triggered his decline, although he did acknowledge it was a “bitterly controversial” act to move troops there.

via Associated Press

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