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UK TO GET THIRD PRIME MINISTER IN A YEAR

International 21 Oct, 2022 Follow News

UK TO GET THIRD PRIME MINISTER IN A YEAR

By Staff Writer

British politics has been sent into another tailspin with the abrupt resignation this past Thursday of Prime Minister Liz Truss.

While she has been under tremendous pressure to quit over a series of policy u-turns and political missteps, her announcement nevertheless caught the country and the watching world by surprise.

Ms Truss who was in office for just 44 days prior to Thursday’s resignation, has become the shortest-serving prime minister in British political history. She will stay on in a caretaker capacity until the ruling Conservative party selects a successor, expected to be named by this weekend.

In her resignation address, she stuck to her ‘low-tax, high-growth economic ideology, but was forced to concede that it didn’t work.

“I came into office at a time of great economic and international instability. Families and businesses were worried about how to pay their bills. Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine threatens the security of our whole continent. And our country had been held back for too long by low economic growth. I was elected by the Conservative party with a mandate to change this.”

She cited as achievements in her six-week term in office: “We delivered on energy bills and on cutting national insurance. And we set out a vision for a low-tax, high-growth economy that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit.”

But the departing Prime Minister admitted: “I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative party.”

POLICY PITFALLS

For Prime Minister Truss, her brief tenure from September 6th was marked by historical political and economic upheavals.

The main setback was a controversial tax-cutting mini-budget delivered by her then-Chancellor of the Exchequer(Finance Minister) Kwasi Kwarteng  on September 23rd, which caused huge turmoil in the financial markets..

The resulting economic and political fall-out saw Prime Minister Truss sacking Mr Kwarteng.

A new Chancellor, the fourth in four months, was appointed and immediately set about dismantling what has come to be known as the Truss/Kwarteng economic experiment labelled Trussonomics.

Jeremy Hunt, a former health and foreign secretary(minister), warned that the corrective measures he was putting in place would mean “taking the difficult decisions necessary to ensure there is trust and confidence in our national finances. That means decisions of eye-watering difficulty,” he stressed.

Mr Hunt was expected to present a revised mini-budget on October 31st. That target date remains in place despite the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday September 20th.

POLITICAL WOES

Things had been getting progressively worse for Prime Minister Truss with calls for her to quit coming from within her party.

That was compounded by the resignation of her Minister of Home Affairs, Suella Braverman, on Wednesday evening September 19th over a breach of the ministerial code involving sending official correspondence on her private email.

But in her letter of resignation, the now-former minister took a swipe at Prime Minister Truss over an unrelated matter, the direction of the government.

“Not only have we broken key pledges that were promised to our voters, but I have had serious concerns about this government’s commitment to honouring manifesto commitments, such as reducing overall migration numbers and stopping illegal immigration,” she wrote.

Later on Wednesday evening another crisis blew up for the Prime Minister over accusations of members of her ruling Conservative Party being bullied into voting against a motion on an energy supply issue tabled by the opposition Labour Party.

Two senior MPs managing that process were reported to have resigned but subsequently backtracked.

SEARCHING FOR A SUCCESSOR

The process to find a replacement for Liz Truss from within the ruling Conservative Party has been urgently activated with party managers saying they expect to have a new leader - and new British Prime Minister - in place by Friday September 28th.

That person will become the UK’s third prime minister in less than a year after Ms Truss’s predecessor, Boris Johnson was forced to resign under a cloud of scandals and questions about his personal integrity and leadership judgement.

That has set in motion a feverish process in which the leader will be chosen via an online vote instead of the drawn-out, in-person campaign carried out a few months ago.

Among the early front-runners is the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Ms Truss’s rival in this year’s vote to replace Boris Johnson.

Mr Johnson is also being tipped to take on the role again, a development that has added another element of controversy to the already febrile political atmosphere.

Another candidate getting attention is Penny Mordaunt, a former Secretary of State for Defence (the first woman to hold the post) and former Secretary of State for International Development including the Overseas Territories.

She had also unsuccessfully campaigned to take over from Boris Johnson.

With the Conservative Party trending woefully low in the polls the main opposition Labour Party, now recording historically high ratings, is calling for early general elections along with the other opposition parties.

The next general election is due by 2024 but could be called earlier since the Parliament had repealed the Fixed Term Elections legislation. However, facing the prospect of a massive electoral defeat now, it’s unlikely that the Conservatives would exercise that option.


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