Thousands of Brits take to the streets in the face of inflation

Thousands of Brits take to the streets in the face of inflation

Thousands of Britons took to the streets on Saturday to protest the cost of living crisis, at times burning bills, as the government somehow dealt with fiscal policy after a week of chaos in financial markets.

High inflation, low sterling, winter fears… The new Conservative government of Liz Truss had promised immediate action to deal with the crisis, but last week’s announcement of massive tax cuts aimed at the wealthy has provoked more anger and incomprehension than anything else.

“Support the strikes”, “Freeze prices, not people” or even “Taxes for the rich” read the signs held up by protesters in London, who are responding to a call from several organizations towards Westminster in central London London gathered the capital.

People are “fed up,” says Lily Holder, a 29-year-old protester in London. “They are no longer willing to accept the shameful way the Tories are treating them.” The winter – which promises to be tough for many households struggling to pay their bills – “will show the true cruelty of our government,” she said.

– “No other possibilities” –

The majority of Britons gave a cold welcome to the “mini-budget” presented by the government last week. The announcements also panicked markets, sending sterling to an all-time low, prompting intervention from the International Monetary Fund and the Central Bank.

But “doing nothing was not an option,” Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng explained in the Telegraph on Friday evening about the massive tax cuts, the financing of which is still unclear.

“Imagine the cost to the UK economy of mass unemployment, a collapse in consumption and business closures,” he said.

Mr Kwarteng promised a medium-term debt reduction plan, but rating agency Standard & Poor’s was skeptical and downgraded its forecast for UK sovereign debt sustainability.

The incomprehension of the markets is now joined by the anger of the British. More than half (51%) of the population believes Prime Minister Liz Truss, who has been in office for less than a month, should resign, according to a recent YouGov poll.

– “Can’t pay, won’t pay” –

Often smothered by near-10% inflation and worried about whether they can warm up or pay off their loans this winter, some are refusing to pay their bills in October. The government has announced a freeze on energy price caps, but prices have still doubled in a year.

“Can’t pay, don’t want to pay,” protesters chanted outside London’s King’s Cross train station on Saturday and burned counterfeit energy bills.

In this context of heightened social discontent, the mobilizations, which have multiplied since June in all sectors, resumed with renewed vigor after a truce respected after the death of Elizabeth II on September 8th.

Rail workers went on strike across the country on Saturday – the biggest since the beginning of the year – with only 11% of traffic secured.

Despite the severe disruption, rail mobilization is understood and supported by most Brits, according to an Ipsos poll. On the streets of London, as in other UK cities, many demonstrators held up placards calling for support for the strikes.

Climate activists from the group Just Stop Oil, who took part in the protests, blocked several London bridges and called on the Conservative government to “solve the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis by halting new investment in oil and gas,” a statement said the organization.

More unpopular than ever, the Tories are meeting in Birmingham on Sunday for their annual convention. But given the context, this high mass promises to be somber.

According to the British press, letters of defiance against Liz Truss are already arriving. Some Tories are stunned by their fuzzy budget announcements, while others are already missing former Prime Minister Boris Johnson despite his antics and lies.


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