Keir Starmer calls for general election as he reacts to PM's resignation

Here's a figure that will make you wince - Liz Truss is entitled to an allowance of up to £115,000 a year because she is a former prime minister.

Yes, despite being in office for a shorter duration than any other politician in British history, and for less time than it took for her to campaign for leadership of the party, Truss's expenses will be cushioned by an allowance available to those who've had the job.

It is pretty controversial that she can get her hands on that much money, particularly when you consider how badly she handled the public's money in the short time she was allowed near it.

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Labour leader Keir Starmer seems to think so. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Friday: “She should turn it down. I think that’s the right thing to do. She’s done 44 days in office, she’s not really entitled to it, she should turn it down and not take it.”

The Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, also said she should turn down the allowance.

So she's facing some pressure to act with a bit of integrity. If she does? Here are a few things the money could be better spent on, including some serious suggestions and some with our tongues firmly in our cheeks:

1. 46 household's annual energy bills

One of the things Truss managed to get around to doing while PM (and one of the few things that weren't reversed) was announcing a cap on energy bills, as prices continue to soar.

If this is the maximum amount a household pays annually, £115,000 could support 46 households.

2. 3.4 nurse's annual salaries

The Royal College of Nursing estimates that an average NHS nurse earns £33,384 a year. Therefore, Truss's funds could support 3.4 nurses, who do far more good to the country than she ever did.

3. Almost 200,000 lettuces

We all now know that a lettuce has the power to outlive Truss, so the food is definitely worth more than she is. So why not use the money to invest in 191,667. Now that's an investment.

4. 5750 copies of the book about her rise to power

When two journalists sat down to write Out of the Blue: The inside story of Liz Truss and her explosive rise to power, they probably thought they had the perfect stocking filler prepared for its December release date.

But then, out of the blue, Truss resigned and the book became out of date before it even hit the shops. They are reportedly giving it a quick rewrite though, so Truss might be able to get almost 6,000 copies as souvenirs.

5. 48,000 free school meals

With the cost of living affecting those on low incomes, free school meals have rarely been so important. Infant meals cost £2.41 a pop, so Truss could pay for around 47,718.

6. A whole load of cheese

The Truss fund could also pay for 28,750 blocks of cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace.

7. 6767 copies of Economics For Dummies

Let's face it. She needs it.

8. Enough etiquette lessons to make royals look slovenly

Given Truss made some pretty undiplomatic comments about other politicians including Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford, and even managed to mess up the simple act of curtseying to King Charles, it seems clear that she's not massively clued up on general etiquette.

If she keeps the money for herself, she might consider buying some lessons to upskill - and she could do one London finishing schools' day course 118 times.

9. 2052 Labour Party memberships

At times, Truss's premiership was so bad for the Tories and so good for Labour's position in the polls, it seemed like she was a double agent, willing for Starmer to succeed.

With that in mind, her annual income could cover the cost of 2052 people joining the opposition party for a year.

10. A hefty donation to literally any charity

£115,000 is a lot of money. If it was donated to charity, it could help the organisation deliver their vital services, from providing mental health support at Mind, to supporting people diagnosed with Cancer at Macmillan, or support the operational costs associated with running a charity.

11. 27 Ukrainian refugees

Under the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme, people who house a Ukrainian refugee receive £350 a month to support the costs of helping them.

That means £115,000 would support 27 households and therefore refugees for a whole year.

So there are a few ways £115,000 could be stretched in pretty positive directions but why do PMs get this money in the first place?

Truss can claim the funding under the public duty costs allowance (PDCA), which was introduced after Margaret Thatcher’s resignation. It was introduced to assist former prime ministers still active in public life.

The former PMs are entitled to claim for necessary office and secretarial costs that come from their special position in public life. In 2020-21, John Major and Tony Blair claimed the maximum allowance; Gordon Brown claimed £114,712; David Cameron claimed £113,423 and Theresa May £57,832, the Guardian reports.

Even if she doesn't use it all, it is a no-brainer really, Truss doesn't deserve even half of that cash.

It is a simple and fundamental principle that the government derives its democratic legitimacy from the people. The future of the country must not be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it must be decided by the people in a general election. And for this reason The Independent is calling for an election to be held. Have your say and sign our election petition by clicking here.

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