Truss wins but it was no landslide – could that change how she governs?

Politics

Polling in the summer suggested Liz Truss had the backing of around 66% of Conservative Party members – a similar margin to that which saw Boris Johnson beat Jeremy Hunt in 2019.

But the final result saw Ms Truss secure a lower proportion of the vote than some had expected – 81,326 votes, which equates to around 57%.

Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby and deputy political editor Sam Coates have been giving their reaction to the result.

Speaking in the QEII conference centre moments after the result was announced, Beth Rigby said: “In reality, this is a prime minister facing the toughest in-tray in over four decades – and that is going to bite tomorrow when she goes into Downing Street.

“From a party management point of view she might have been happier with a bit more cushion with the members, because the party is deeply divided over how to handle the economic crisis, and she may have hoped for more support from the membership.”

Liz Truss speaks after being announced as Britain's next Prime Minister at The Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, Britain September 5, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Among the interviews Beth carried out in the conference hall, she spoke to Truss-backer and former leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt – who talked about how the new PM would build a strong team and bring the party together.

Beth said this indicated Ms Truss was not planning to entirely exclude senior figures who backed Rishi Sunak from her government.

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Sky’s political editor gives her take on the Conservative leadership election results

“It was very controversial within the parliamentary party that Boris Johnson eviscerated anyone that had not been completely loyal to him back in 2019, ” Beth observed.

“Many MPs thought that undermined the credibility of cabinet and government and they want to see Liz Truss reaching out to backbenches and reaching out to those cabinet ministers and members of the party that backed Rishi Sunak.”

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Liz Truss’s victory speech

“[Given] the membership was more divided than, perhaps, at least Truss’s team would have hoped for, she might decide that she does need to build a more inclusive government because she is going to have one hell of a tough time as she tries to begin to tackle this economic crisis.”

Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates said Liz Truss’s victory was the lowest margin since the rules around the leadership contest were changed by William Hague around 20 years ago.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge, Sam said previous leaders Iain Duncan Smith, David Cameron and Boris Johnson all won by higher margins, and that this could impact the way Liz Truss chooses to govern.

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Sky’s Sam Coates: The margins could matter

“Given that there is that divide amongst MPs, with around 200 Tory MPs not saying that they would support Liz Truss [in the parliamentary phase of the contest], I think that there is a tension there and I don’t think that today’s result will particularly have put that question aside for Liz Truss.”

“In her speech, she talked about a bold plan, but in the way that the votes were cast, I just wonder whether she feels she needs to now be signalling something slightly less bold and confrontational and instead something slightly more inclusive – to try and smooth over some of those sores inside the Conservative Party.”

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