THE co-chairman of the Tory party has stepped down just hours after Liz Truss was elected leader.

Ben Elliot, a Boris Johnson ally, raised eye-watering sums for the party in the run-up to the decisive 2019 election which saw the Conservatives secure the biggest Commons majority since 1979.

Under Elliot’s command the party raised £56 million ahead of the poll, with £23m raised in the month before the vote.

Truss now faces the challenge of replacing him after he announced on Monday he would step down from the party’s high command.

In a statement, Elliot said: “Serving as co-chairman of the Conservative Party has been a huge honour and privilege.

“I would like to thank my various co-chairmen, colleagues on the party board, the national convention, the excellent senior staff at [Conservative Campaigns Headquarters] and of course all our professional staff, members and volunteers across the country.

“I would like to thank Boris Johnson for appointing me, and wish Liz Truss every success in leading our great country, particularly given the challenges of the winter ahead.”

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Elliot was responsible for the introduction of “donor clubs” in the 2019 fundraising campaign, which left the party open to accusations of allowing “cash-for-access”.

The tactic allowed major donors – some of whom donated more than £250,000 to Conservative coffers – privileged access to the Prime Minister and other senior members of the Government.

This was dubbed the “advisory board” and members of the unofficial group were allowed regular meetings and calls with Boris Johnson and then-chancellor Rishi Sunak.

A friend of Elliot told the Mail on Sunday: “He is going because he recognises that Liz will want the freedom to appoint her own chair, and wants to spend more time concentrating on his businesses.

“Ben’s own initiative and contacts’ had been responsible for more than one third of donor income.

“Ben’s departure is a huge loss to the party. Fundraising is more important than ever in order to fund the party’s campaigns and will be critical at the next election.