‘I’m relieved it’s all over… but at least I’ve been Prime Minister’: What Liz Truss told tearful Downing Street staff as she prepared her resignation
- Liz Truss accepted that her premiership was over late on Wednesday evening
- She agreed with husband, Hugh, that it was a matter of when, not if, she resigned
- Prime Minister now privately describes the mini-budget as ‘a colossal f***-up’
- She told Downing Street staff ‘I’m relieved it’s over,’ and ‘at least I’ve been PM’
When Liz Truss finally accepted that her premiership was over, late on Wednesday evening, she went to the fridge in the No 10 flat and pulled out a bottle of sauvignon blanc to share with her husband Hugh.
She had just endured a torrid night in the Commons, where more than 40 of her MPs had failed to back her in a vote on fracking – leading to the astonishing sight of ministers pulling wavering Tories into the voting lobbies.
As she nibbled on a pork pie, the couple agreed that it was a matter of when, not if, she resigned.
One of the main considerations was the impact of the growing turmoil on their two teenage daughters.
Downing Street staff were in tears as Ms Truss prepared her resignation but she reassured them: ‘Don’t worry, I’m relieved it’s over’
Ms Truss then slept fitfully until 4.30am, when she started messaging aides for advice.
Later that morning, No 10 asked Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, to come in to see the Prime Minister.
When she asked if the situation was retrievable, he replied: ‘I don’t think so, Prime Minister.’ The game was up.
As she delivered her statement, her former No 10 consigliere Jason Stein was watching the live feed on his phone from a table at The Ivy in London’s Marylebone, one of Peter Mandelson’s favourite restaurants.
The Prime Minister had channelled Labour’s Prince of Darkness at the previous day’s Prime Minister’s Questions, declaring, like Mr Mandelson, that she was ‘a fighter, not a quitter’.
Until his suspension on Wednesday pending an investigation by the Government’s Propriety and Ethics Team over claims of unauthorised briefings against colleagues, Mr Stein had been at the centre of the Truss premiership as an all-purpose fixer and adviser.
He has told friends that the Downing Street operation was ‘dysfunctional from the outset’ and blames ‘muddled lines of command’ for the single greatest error, the mini-Budget which even the Prime Minister now privately describes as ‘a colossal f***-up’.
When Liz Truss finally accepted that her premiership was over, late on Wednesday evening, she went to the fridge in the No 10 flat and pulled out a bottle of sauvignon blanc to share with her husband Hugh (pictured)
Sources also describe fractious meetings in the run-up to the statement, which led to the sacking of her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and the reversal of the vast majority of the mini-Budget measures, with Ms Truss being so enraged by one member of her staff on one occasion that she talked about ‘stabbing him in the leg’.
The sources are scathing about the role played by Ms Truss’s Chief of Staff Mark Fullbrook, describing his appointment as ‘a disaster’. One revealed: ‘Liz offered that job around everywhere but no one would take it. We were left with no option but to give it to Fullbrook.
‘He was part of a secret meeting in the Downing Street flat on September 13, during the official mourning period for the Queen, when the Budget was drawn up behind the back of Kwasi.
‘It was just Liz, Fullbrook and a couple of other aides eating sushi takeaways and coming up with that brilliant plan to cut the top 45p rate of tax.
‘The Treasury and the Cabinet Secretary [Simon Case] warned against it but we had an absentee Chief of Staff who was more focused on getting a massive contract with Conservative Campaign HQ to run the election campaign.’
Ms Truss was also ‘irritated’ during the Tory party conference in Birmingham when she was told that Mr Fullbrook had been using her VIP room service for his own purposes.
The sources also claimed that Ms Truss was warned against appointing Mr Fullbrook in August, but insisted on backing him.
On the morning of her resignation, No 10 asked Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, to come in to see the Prime Minister
Another source claimed that Ms Truss had regretted appointing Matthew Sinclair, former chief executive of The TaxPayers’ Alliance think-tank, as her Chief Economic Adviser because ‘he was always talking over her in meetings and ‘mansplaining’.
‘She said on one occasion that if he kept it up, she would stab him in the leg. He never shut up.’
A source said: ‘We also had trouble finding a Chief Whip. Therese [Coffey] turned it down because she wanted to be free to defend the PM in the media, so we ended up with Wendy [Morton]. The whole thing became an absolute mess, Downing Street was cobbled together on compromise.’
Another source also claimed that Mr Case had been concerned about Ms Truss’s morale, telling colleagues that ‘while all Prime Ministers end up lonely in office, it has happened at warp speed to Liz’. The source said: ‘He grew very, very concerned.’
Downing Street staff were in tears as Ms Truss prepared her resignation but she reassured them: ‘Don’t worry, I’m relieved it’s over,’ before adding, ‘At least I’ve been Prime Minister.’
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