December 1, 2022

British Prime Minister Truss clings to power as chaos mounts in Westminster

British Prime Minister Truss clings to power as chaos mounts in Westminster

  • Truss loses power as lawmakers squabble
  • The stability of the pound against the dollar
  • Some lawmakers say Truss should go now

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Liz Truss struggled to maintain her grip on power on Thursday, a day after the resignation of a senior second minister and blasphemy and strife among her lawmakers erupted in a dramatic breakdown of unity and discipline. .

Just six weeks into her career, Truss was forced to abandon nearly all of her policy program after it battered the bond market and plunged her approval ratings and those of her Conservative Party.

In just six days, she has lost two of her four biggest cabinet ministers, sitting silent in Parliament while her new finance minister tore up her economic plans and faced gasps of laughter as she tried to defend her record.

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“We can’t go on like this,” a Conservative MP told Reuters late on Wednesday of the chaos in Parliament.

The sight of another unpopular prime minister clinging to power highlights how volatile British politics have been since the 2016 election to leave the European Union unleashed a battle for the country’s direction.

Truss became Britain’s fourth prime minister in six years after its members were elected to lead the Conservative Party, not by the electorate, and with the support of only about a third of the party’s MPs. It promised tax cuts financed through borrowing, deregulation, and a sharp turn to the right on cultural and social issues.

Its sudden loss of power comes as the economy heads into recession and its new finance minister, Jeremy Hunt, is scrambling to find cuts of tens of billions of pounds to reassure investors who have been frightened by Truss’ policy proposals.

While government borrowing costs are lower than at the height of the crisis last week, they remain high as investors question who is responsible and whether Hunt will be able to rebuild confidence in Britain’s once healthy economic reputation.

Crispin Blunt, a Conservative MP for 25 years, told Reuters the situation was so serious that his colleagues needed to allow someone with experience to take charge.

“Ambition and personal considerations must now be set aside,” he said, adding that he would support Hunt as leader.

Simon Hoare, who has been in Parliament for seven years, said Thursday and Friday are tough days for the government. “I have never known … a growing sense of pessimism on all wings of the Conservative Party,” he said.

backed by events

Truss has been fighting for her political survival since September 23, when then-finance minister and close ally Kwasi Quarting announced a “mini-budget” of massive unfunded tax cuts that shocked financial markets.

She fired Karting on Friday and Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned on Wednesday.

With polls showing conservatives facing a reversal in the upcoming election, some lawmakers say Truss should go so they can try to rebuild their brand. Others seem to have given up.

“Unfortunately, it seems we must change the leader but even if Angel Gabriel takes over now, the Parliamentary Party must urgently rediscover discipline, mutual respect and teamwork if we are to (1) govern the UK well and (2) avoid slaughter in “Next election,” Representative Gary Streeter said on Twitter.

With inflation at a 40-year high and mortgage rates jumping, sightings of warring lawmakers and planners in Parliament risk deepening anger among voters preparing for a harsh winter of rising food and energy costs.

Parliamentary drama erupted on Wednesday due to confusion over whether the vote on fracking is being used to vote confidence in the government. Opposition MPs said some members of Truss’s Conservative Party had been “rough out” to get them to vote with the government.

With lawmakers lining up to denounce the situation in the country, the government was unable to say for several hours whether the politician in charge of party discipline, or the whip chief, had resigned.

In a sign of the chaos, Truss’s Downing Street office issued a statement at 1:33 am (0033 GMT) saying the prime minister had “full confidence” in the whip chief and his deputy.

It also said that any lawmaker who abstained from voting to allow cracking “expects proportionate disciplinary action.” Voting results show that more than 30 Conservative MPs did not vote, including those who were away or ill.

Transport Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, sent to speak to broadcasters and radio stations Thursday morning, was asked if Truss would lead the Conservative Party to the next election, expected in 2024.

“For now, that is still the case,” she said.

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Written by Kate Holton; Additional reporting by Farouk Suleiman and Kylie McClellan; Editing by William Schomberg, Sarah Young and Catherine Evans

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.