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Liz Truss loses seat as ex-prime minister becomes biggest scalp in Tory bloodbath

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Liz Truss has lost her South West Norfolk seat in a humiliating defeat on the worst night for the Conservatives in general election history.

The former prime minister squandered a 26,195 majority in the once true blue seat, finishing in second to Labour’s Terry Jermy by around 600 votes.

Suspense was building in the run up to the declaration at around 6.50am, with Ms Truss absent from the stage for several minutes while rival candidates lined up on stage.

But when Ms Truss eventually appeared on stage, Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister suffered the shock upset.

Click here for our live coverage of the general election campaign.

Mr Jermy won 11,847 votes, with Ms Truss second on 11,217 and Reform UK’s Toby McKenzie on 9,958. On a devastating night for the Conservatives, with a record-breaking 11 cabinet ministers and a handful of other big beasts losing their seats, Ms Truss became the most high profile scalp.

Her disastrous 49-day stint in Downing Street saw her become an emblem of 14 years of Tory chaos and mismanagement, leaving her even more vulnerable than colleagues such as Jeremy Hunt and James Cleverly who managed to cling on.

Ms Truss did not give a speech after losing her seat. But she told the BBC: “I think the issue we faced as Conservatives is we haven’t delivered sufficiently on the policies people want.

“And that means keeping taxes low, but also particularly on reducing immigration. And I think that’s been a crucial issue here in South West Norfolk, that was the number one issue that people raised on the doorstep with me.”

Asked whether she accepted some responsibility for that, Ms Truss said: “I agree. I was part of that. That’s absolutely true.

“But during our 14 years in power, unfortunately we did not do enough to take on the legacy we’d been left, in particular things like the Human Rights Act that made it very difficult for us to deport illegal immigrants. And that is one of the reasons I think we’ve ended up in the situation we are now.”

She said “I’ve got a lot to think about” when asked whether she wanted to stay in Tory politics.

Losing the seat meant Mr Sunak is the only Tory prime minister since 2010 whose seat is still Conservative, with David Cameron’s former Witney seat backing the Liberal Democrats, Theresa May’s Maidenhead also flipping to the Lib Dems and Labour gaining Boris Johnson’s old Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat.

Ms Truss left the count without giving a speech after losing her seat
Ms Truss left the count without giving a speech after losing her seat (Jacob King/PA Wire)

Ms Truss had held the seat since 2010 and spent years as a backbench MP before securing her first ministerial job as an education secretary during David Cameron’s stint as prime minister in 2014.

From there she rose through the ranks to become foreign secretary under Boris Johnson. After Mr Johnson’s downfall she won the Tory leadership election by promising radical tax cuts and stronger economic growth.

Her time in No 10 was arguably the most disastrous of any prime minister in the history of the UK. She lasted just 49 days in Downing Street, having been forced out when her mini-budget caused turmoil in the financial markets and sent mortgage bills spiralling.

The stunning defeat came as Rishi Sunak led the Conservatives to their worst election defeat in history, with a record 11 cabinet ministers losing their seats.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng with Liz Truss at the Tory Party conference following his disastrous mini budget (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng with Liz Truss at the Tory Party conference following his disastrous mini budget (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)

As polling stations closed at 10pm, the exit poll predicted that Labour will win 410 seats, the Tories 131, the Lib Dems 61, Reform 13 and the SNP 10.

Johnny Mercer, Grant Shapps, Gillian Keegan, Lucy Frazer, Penny Mordaunt, Michelle Donelan, Alex Chalk, David TC Davies, Victoria Prentis, Mark Harper and Simon Hart are among the Tory big beasts who fell as Sir Keir’s party swept to victory.

Ms Truss had sought to burnish her right-wing credentials and released a memoir called “Ten Years to save the West” in which she blamed everyone but herself for her disastrous time as leader. While she was not expected to stand herself, Ms Truss was also set to play a key role in the race to succeed Mr Sunak as Tory leader.

She attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in the US earlier this year and took part in an interview with Steve Bannon, who served as a senior White House aide to former Republican president Donald Trump, and she remained silent as he hailed English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson as a “hero”.

Ms Truss has also backed Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States.

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