The government is facing mounting calls to hold a general election after Liz Truss resigned following 45 days in Downing Street.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has demanded a general election “now”, with Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon following suit, saying it is a “democratic imperative” after Ms Truss’s dramatic resignation.
The Independent is also calling for a national ballot, with our petition now racking up more than 300,000 signatures.
But what do British voters think? The Independent has gone out on the streets of Cambridge, held by Labour, and Mid-Sussex, one of the UK’s most solid Conservative constituencies, to find out.
As well as the economic crisis in the UK, people were concerned about democracy, the culture within the Conservative Party, MPs’ motives, Britain’s reputation in the world and the cost of living.
In Cambridge, Azlan Rana 21, said: “As a financial analyst, I believe the economy would benefit from a general election, with inflation and interest rates rising combined with consistently poor economic performance.
“Having a new party in power will give optimism to the markets which would improve the financial conditions. Not only that, but a new party in power would give the public some power back as Liz Truss was elected without the public’s opinion.”
Sean Thompson, 36, a software developer, added: “A hundred per cent there needs to be a general election. There should have been one a long time ago.
“The Conservative Party is keeping its own party together, not doing what is right for the people. We have not achieved anything politically in this country since 2016.
“We have so many big issues in the world that need tackling like the climate crisis and the energy crisis. We need stability and we need to move forward and the only way we can do that is with a general election.”
Also in Cambridge, Hiba Jan, 23, a direct marketer, said: “I think there needs to be a general election right now. The people did not elect Liz Truss and as a result we have had U-turn after U-turn.
“As an international student, I’ve found the cost of living difficult to cope with and finding a place to stay is near-impossible. The people need to decide on who needs to be our leader, not the Conservatives.”
The economic turmoil, Brexit, behaviour of the Conservative whips and cost-of-living crisis have all contributed to making certain Tory voters switch to Labour, some even labelling the government “a laughing stock”.
“Given the constant upheaval and lack of direction, leadership and ownership, it should now be up to the public to decide the government,” said Cheryl Douglas, 52, a media director.
“I can no longer support a party that’s clearly for self-preservation, material gain and no longer for the country and all the country. To vote in Truss was not done for the country but a seat at the ministerial table.
“We need a leader and a party that will make the tough decisions but not at the expense of the NHS, OAPs and those in need.
“I will be voting Labour for the first time. It’s time for a party to trust and recognise we need unity. This is controversial but we need the single market. We need to be on good terms and have an EU partnership that works.”
Waiting for a bus in Haywards Heath was Philip Buckle, 72, a retired academic and UN climate change consultant, who in 2019 voted Tory in preference to Jeremy Corbyn.
“Should a guy who’s already proven he’s amoral and committed to infidelity be brought back? Of course we should have a general election. It’s down to trust. The Tories have built up this massive economic crisis,” he said.
“The rules are only there to guide us. The Tories have demonstrated they can’t stick to good governance. By the end of next week we’ll have had four chancellors and three prime ministers in a few months – we’re a laughing stock. Manhandling in the Commons – it reminds me of 18th-century politics. It’s laughable.
“Liz Truss brought her downfall upon herself. She’ll get a payout of £115,000 a year for life, which further corrodes public trust in politicians and effective government of the UK.
“It’s profoundly shameful and incompetent.”
Mr Buckle said he would vote Labour now as the party “has regained some common sense under Keir Starmer” and he and Angela Rayner “have some go in them”.
Lucinda Mather, from Cuckfield, who works in human resources, said: “Yes, it’s such a mess. These are exceptional circumstances. The economic situation we’re in, 45 days in office – it’s a joke. As we did with Brexit, let’s use the power we have to change the rules.” As for who she would vote for: “I wouldn’t have Boris in again – that’s for sure, but let’s see who else is a candidate.”
Teacher Amanda Beal, who was shopping in South Road, Haywards Heath’s high street, with her daughter, Flo, said she thought there probably should be an election but she doesn’t think either party is brilliant at the moment.
“Liz was voted in – but not by the people. The reason they were voted in in 2019 isn’t there now as it’s a very different party and it’s not clear what their mandate is. The instability won’t instil confidence in a lot of people.”
Ms Beal, who also voted for Boris Johnson to avoid letting in Jeremy Corbyn, is now a floating voter. She added: “Maybe everyone is so jilted by what’s been happening that they might vote Labour for a change.
She pointed out that Mr Johnson is still being investigated over whether he misled MPs over the Partygate scandal and could be “chucked out again”, leaving the Conservatives “back at square one”. “Most people want a quick fix and cheaper groceries and mortgages,” she said.
According to nurse Leeba Thomas, from West Sussex: “The leader should be chosen by the people. The Conservatives have been in for a few years so the others should have a turn.”
David Clark, 64, from Haywards Heath, said an election should be called after Jeremy Hunt’s fiscal statement on 31 October, allowing the markets to settle. “The prime minister should allow the markets to steady then call an election as soon as possible to gain a mandate from the people because of the turmoil,” he said.
“We had an election, we had Liz Truss and now we’re going on to someone else. The state of the country is unfortunate. One would hope the country will settle down a bit and we can go back to being more respected internationally.
“I have voted Conservative in recent years but the party at the moment has lost the confidence of everybody including myself so I think we need another government – whether it’s Labour, Liberal or Conservative – to reset things.”
Click here to sign The Independent’s petition for a general election.