On Thursday, Liz Truss became Downing Street’s shortest-serving resident. Seven weeks after replacing outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson, Truss followed in her predecessor’s footsteps thanks to the chaos unleashed by her erratic economic policy.
Following the failure of her controversial tax cuts, which she had hoped would attract investors and slow inflation, Truss had no option but to resign. And so, in a short statement outside Number 10 Downing Street, Truss admitted that “given the situation” she was unable to deliver the mandate on which she was elected on 6 September.
The lack of detail about how she would finance her fiscal plan and the fear of public debt skyrocketing caused the pound to plumet and forced the Bank of England to hastily buy government bonds to shore up the national currency. To placate her critics, Truss fired Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng, with his replacement, Jeremy Hunt, promptly reversing most of the fiscal measures announced. But the resignation of Home Secretary Suella Braverman weakened Truss’s leadership even further.
The final blow to her leadership was the government’s use of pressure and threats to force Conservative MPs to vote against a Labour motion requesting a debate on the decision to lift the ban on fracking for oil and shale gas.
After Truss’s resignation, Labour leader Keir Starmer and Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey separately called for an early general election, currently scheduled for the end of 2024.
At the time of going to press, the candidates to replace Liz Truss as leader of the Conservative party, and therefore as prime minister, remain unconfirmed.
A tale of failure
While Johnson was forced to resign when colleagues tired of his bullishness, constant stream of scandals and lack of leadership, Truss’s case casts a longer shadow ˗ affecting not only the governing party but the entire British public, and putting the economic stability of the UK at risk.
Johnson had to go because of his inability to tell the truth and his lack of desire to remain loyal to his friends in government, and he may be forgiven. But Truss’s incompetence and economic illiteracy, which cost the UK tens of millions of pounds and will push many citizens further into poverty, will not be forgiven says economist Steven McCabe.
In statements to the press, the Professor of Political Economics at Birmingham City University said that her short mandate will be recorded as a disastrous decision made by a few voters who are disconnected from reality, alluding to the fact she was elected by some 170,000 members of the Conservative party.
During the Tories’ internal leadership co ntest in August to choose a replacement for their controversial leader, the then-Foreign Secretary promised to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and inflation through unprecedented tax cuts.
Three weeks after moving into Number 10, the new prime minister unveiled the “mini-budget” (through then-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng), with which she hoped to stimulate the country’s economic growth, attract investors and handle the global crisis caused by the tail end of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
But the result was the opposite of that hoped for. The lack of details about how the historical tax cuts would be funded, and the fear that public debt would skyrocket, crashed the pound and forced the Bank of England to rush to buy government bonds to shore up the country’s currency. The economic foundation of the prime minister’s proposal, now commonly referred to as “Trussonomics”, was rejected by the international financial markets, the International Monetary Fund, the United States and now by the Tories themselves.
The infamous mini-budget not only unleashed financial chaos that made the UK look like an emerging economy, but destroyed the self-esteem that underpins the Conservative party, says McCabe.
To appease her critics, which included an ever-increasing number of Conservative MPs, Truss junked some of her proposals and sacked Kwarteng, before her new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt scrapped the polemic fiscal plan. But Truss’s luck had already run out.
Many Conservative backbenchers publicly called for her to resign, and according to the national press, names of potential replacements were already being bandied about in the corridors of parliament.
The Labour Party, enjoying an unprecedented upswing in the voting intention polls as a result of the government’s erratic economic plan, is piling on the pressure to bring forward the general election, currently scheduled for the end of 2024. PL
(Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay