United Kingdom: Prime Minister Liz Truss has yet to do anything after her apology
Anaïs Cordoba, with AFP
7:42 p.m., October 18, 2022
After apologizing for her “mistakes” and being humiliated at abandoning her economic programme, British Prime Minister Liz Truss must convince Liz Truss of her ability to remain at Downing Street on Tuesday. “In office, but not in power,” is the headline on Tuesday Daily Mail. “Humiliated,” writes the left tabloid The mirror.
Truss forced to enforce a policy she recently rejected
Tax cuts promised by newly appointed Treasury Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday brought some semblance of calm to financial markets. But on a political level, Liz Truss emerges from the episode with her authority torn, forced to adopt policies she has until recently rejected, as unpopular as a British leader has rarely been, and after just six weeks openly challenged by part of her majority in the office.
“A more serious political and economic crisis is hard to imagine,” writes the conservative newspaper die Daily Telegraphwho wonders if his majority, in bad shape after 12 years in power, “is willing to give him a break”.
Prime Minister promises to fix their mistakes
After three days of silence during which Jeremy Hunt impersonated the man responsible, Liz Truss conceded “mistakes” to the BBC on Monday night. The Conservative Prime Minister has vowed to “fix it”, said she was “sorry” and assured that she wants to remain in office to campaign for the next election in two years, despite disastrous polls against Labor Opposition.
According to the YouGov Institute, one in ten Britons has a positive opinion of the Prime Minister. For Conservative Party voters, that percentage rises to only 20%. And 55% of members of this political formation believe Liz Truss should resign, while 38% want her to remain in office. A third would like Boris Johnson to return to power.
As soon as the tax cuts are announced, there are fears that the state budget will slide
The unveiling of plans for massive tax cuts and a whopping support for energy bills in late September had sparked fears of a slide in public accounts. The pound had fallen to an all-time low and long-term government bond yields had skyrocketed. The Bank of England had to intervene to prevent the situation from escalating into a financial crisis.
Although some calm has returned, investors remain nervous: after a strong recovery on Monday, the pound weakened again slightly on Tuesday while sovereign debt rates rose. And Britons, already facing an historic decline in their purchasing power, are already paying for the pot with pricier mortgages and pension funds managing their weakened pensions.
Excuses are not enough for “Labour”
“So much damage has already been done,” said Labour’s finance manager Rachel Reeves, saying an apology is not enough. The leader of that party, Keir Starmer, judged that the government now has “no economic policy” after “ripping down” projects announced at the end of September. But in the near future, Liz Truss will need to win the trust of her own party, where calls for her resignation have been raised. On Wednesday, a first major political test awaits him with his weekly question-and-answer session in Parliament.
“His position is untenable,” MP Charles Walker said. This situation “can only be corrected with a new Prime Minister”. Liz Truss has refused to step down and in the absence of an apparent replacement, ousting her for the Tories is not easy. Ben Wallace, the defense secretary seen as a possible successor, and the new Treasury secretary, Jeremy Hunt, have said they are not interested.
A day to forget for Liz Truss
Monday was like a crossroads for Liz Truss. Jeremy Hunt has announced that he will abandon “almost all” of the fiscal measures announced by his predecessor. Liz Truss then sent Secretary Penny Mordaunt, in charge of relations with Parliament, to respond to opposition in the House of Commons. Then she sat silently with her face closed in Westminster next to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
“It was horrific to watch,” he wrote Times. “Liz Truss was like a mourner at her own funeral,” for the Sun.
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