Is Prime Minister Liz Truss still in charge of the UK government?


LONDON – Britain’s new finance minister on Monday scrapped the remaining elements of Prime Minister Liz Truss’s signature tax policy, which had promised markets a win but surprised many now that the government is in charge.

Truss was sidelined when a political rival, Jeremy Hunt – who was tapped for a top cabinet post on Friday – announced the government would not cut taxes but allow them to rise.

Truss left it to another rival, House of Commons leader Benny Mordant, to defend the government’s U-turns in parliament, where opposition lawmakers and some rebellious politicians from the ruling Conservative Party have called for the prime minister to resign after six weeks. Office. It was another disastrous day for Truss.

The first public heard from Truss on Monday was the late-night BBC broadcast. He said he was “regretful for the mistakes made” but said he was “sticking around” and would “lead the Conservatives into the next general election”.

Liz Truss sacks finance minister as she reverses policies that have sunk the British pound

Labor leader Keir Starmer has put forward the refrain that Truss is “in office but not in power”.

“Where’s the Prime Minister?” Starmer asked rhetorically. “Hiding, avoiding questions, afraid of her own shadow.”

Some commentators talk about when she goes, not if. A British tabloid carries a live broadcast of a leader Glacier lettuce Place it next to a picture of the truss and ask which will last longer.

A Sunday Times editorial declared: “Dress has tarnished the Conservative Party’s reputation for fiscal prowess and embarrassed Britain on the international stage.”

“Senior Tories must now act in the national interest and remove her from Downing Street as soon as possible,” the editorial continued, while also calling Hunt a “de factor prime minister”.

Hunt is a moderate Conservative who has twice unsuccessfully contested to lead his party, but is considered a safe pair. He assured the country that Truss was “in charge”.

“Accepting the decision you made is a very challenging form of leadership,” he told parliament. “The prime minister has done that, he’s done it because he understands the importance of economic stability, and I respect him for that.”

Why does Britain compare its Prime Minister to a lettuce?

Truss was installed in Downing Street as the choice of the Conservative Party’s 160,000 dues-paying members – about 0.3 per cent of the population. The growth-tax-cut plan that fueled his candidacy, and drew comparisons to Margaret Thatcher, has now been completely gutted.

Tax cuts for the wealthy have not gone down well with the public, who are facing record inflation and rising bills. But the government’s plight had more to do with bond traders, who were apprehensive about the scale of borrowing the plan would require.

Hunt came after two of the most controversial parts of the plan had already been scrapped. Yet he slammed on the brakes, insisting that debt and spending would be the new watchwords.

“We will reverse all the tax measures that were announced in the development plan three weeks ago,” Hunt said. “There will be very difficult decisions, I’m afraid, both in tax and spending, as we deliver on our commitment to reduce debt as a share of the economy over the medium term.”

Hunt also announced that the government’s popular scheme to help with energy bills for homes – “a key policy to support millions of people through a tough winter” – would not continue for two years, but would only last until April. The government would then move to a “new approach” that would “cost taxpayers significantly less.”

Markets have accepted the government’s backlash. The falling British pound is stable. The country’s leading stock index FTSE 100 rose. The cost of government borrowing is falling – although still higher than before Truss took over.

But confusion persists in British politics.

Although there is no general election in sight, two opinion polls published on Monday put Labor ahead of the Conservatives by more than 30 points.

“Who voted for this?” Signs appear on social media feeds of protests and opposition legislators.

There is hand-wringing among conservatives as well.

“His position is politically completely unacceptable,” said Jonathan Tonge, a professor of politics at the University of Liverpool. “In any sane democracy she would have gone by now.”

“He campaigned on a platform of tax cuts, a line for growth and supply-side reform – every element of which was stripped away by Jeremy Hunt,” he said. If Truss survives, “it will be because the bigwigs of the Conservative Party cannot accept an alternative.”

Conservatives are notorious for ruthlessly dismissing their leaders. Boris Johnson swept them to a landslide victory in the 2019 general election, but after scandals – and a Conservative wallop in the polls – he was forced to resign. Truss’s personal poll ratings are worse than Johnson’s, and his party’s poll ratings have nosedived.

People would be a “beautiful sight” if the party held another leadership contest too soon, Damian Green, a prominent Conservative, admitted on BBC Radio 4. But asked if Truss wants to lead the party when the next general election comes around, the Greens have only trailing support. “If he gets us to the next election, that means the next two years have been more successful than the last four weeks.”

Rallying conservatives around someone to replace Truss may indeed be a challenge.

Although Hunt assumed a powerful role, he was not a rising star within the party. He was soundly beaten by Boris Johnson in the 2019 Conservative leadership race and was kicked out in the first round of voting last summer after receiving just 18 votes from fellow lawmakers.

A section of the Conservatives wants former finance minister Rishi Sunak, the runner-up in the summer leadership contest, to take the top job. Many of his economic predictions have become predictions. But he is disliked by Johnson loyalists, who accuse him of leading the rebellion that brought down the last prime minister. And conservative lawmakers could invite other problems if they break the party’s grassroots by promoting Sunak.

Mordant, the most popular of grass roots, has been discussed as another contender. She wrote In the Sunday TelegraphHowever, this is not the time to change Prime Ministers. “Our country needs stability,” he said, “not a soap opera.”

Over the weekend, President Biden was asked by a reporter what he thought of Truss’ “trickle-down plan that he should back off.”

Usually, U.S. presidents don’t comment on an ally’s budget, but Biden weighed in, saying, “Well, it’s predictable. I’m not the only one who thinks it’s wrong.

He added: “The idea of ​​cutting taxes on the super-rich is at a time when – anyway, I think – I don’t agree with the policy, but it’s up to Great Britain to make that judgment, not me.”

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