Liz Truss’ chief whip Wendy Morton dramatically asserted her status in an official meeting just hours before the Prime Minister resigned, it has been claimed. The Conservative Party chief whip reportedly had “not a f***ing clue” as to whether the Government would win a vote on fracking billed as a “confidence vote” on the Prime Minister.
She asserted her authority in an extraordinary outburst during a meeting the following morning, leaving officials “open-mouthed”, claimed Tim Shipman in a piece for The Sunday Times.
A witness at the 9am meeting on Thursday, October 20, told Mr Shipman that Ms Morton said her office was “devastated” by the handling of the previous night.
For a large chunk of the evening, MPs said there was confusion over whether the vote would decide the party’s faith in the Prime Minister.
And whips were unsure whether they had the numbers to win, leading Number 10 to override the confidence status.
Ms Morton reportedly left in “floods of tears” and declared she was “no longer chief whip”, but regained her composure the following morning.
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Her deputy, Craig Whittaker, was heard saying he was “f***ing furious” and didn’t “give a f*** anymore”.
Rumours later suggested the pair had resigned just hours after Suella Braverman departed the Home Office.
The witness said she framed the chaos “as if none of it was anything to do with her”.
After a brief exchange with deputy prime minister Therese Coffey, Ms Morton got up, announcing she had to be elsewhere.
As she opened the door, the witness claimed she turned back and said: “Just remember. I. Am. The. Chief. Whip.”
Officials in the room were left “open-mouthed” after her departure, Mr Shipman added.
Ms Morton’s Thursday morning statement was among the least dramatic of the day, as Ms Truss resigned just hours later.
She tendered her resignation in a speech outside Number 10 at 1.30pm, triggering the second Tory leadership race in as many months.
The Conservative Party’s Parliamentary 1922 Committee managed to organise a contest the day she stood back, with rules announced by that evening.
Tory MPs will decide who they want to lead the party into the next General Election at breakneck speed.
Party members have nominated their ideal candidates ahead of a vote that could decide the new Prime Minister by Monday.
But while clear favourites have emerged, only one candidate has officially come forward.
Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson are the two leading candidates in terms of nominations.
Mr Sunak has the most with more than 120 public nominations, while Mr Johnson – whose resignation in July paved the way for the Truss Government – is behind with fewer than half at 56.
Neither prospective candidate has officially declared their intentions, however.
The only MP officially in the running is Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt, who has the fewest public nominations with 23.