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Liz Truss is in big trouble after her biggest turn yet



London
CNN

Liz Truss has sacrifice her finance minister and her closest political ally just weeks to save her own skin.

On Friday morning, the British Prime Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, was summoned a day early to return to London from the United States straight to Downing Street, where he is relieved of his duties.

The move comes three weeks after Kwarteng unveiled a controversial small budget full of unfinished tax cuts. pushed financial markets into a state of crisis. At one point, the pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar in decades.

The market has stabilized somewhat since then, although only after major intervention from the Bank of England, leaked rumors that the small budget would be abandoned and reports that Kwarteng would be fired.

However, Kwarteng’s departure does not mean that Truss is out of the woods. The low-tax, free-market policies that Kwarteng announced were the correct ticket for Truss to run for prime minister.

The couple wrote about their shared vision of a high-growth, low-tax Britain in a book authored by a Conservative group from 2012. Kwarteng and Truss fell short of their vision. for Great Britain; His dismissal was a tacit acceptance that her economic plan had failed.

Liz Truss declined to apologize during a brief press conference on Friday with her party or the public about the turmoil caused by the small budget.

“The problem with their budget is never the numbers, it’s more about the reliability of the plan,” a former Conservative cabinet minister told CNN shortly after Truss fired Kwarteng. .

“You can reverse the scrap number and policy. You cannot reverse the trust. She removed her lightning rod, but now the light will shine on her.”

Truss wrapped up a remarkable short press conference in Downing Street on Friday afternoon in which she defended her economic vision, but refused to apologize to her party or the public for the banking turmoil. booklet caused.

“We realized that because of the current market problems, we had to fulfill our mission in a different way,” Truss said. “And that’s what we’re fully committed to.”

Asked if she would apologize to her party’s lawmakers, some of whom are openly sabotaging her economic agenda, she replied: “I determined to do what I set out to do when I was campaigning to become party leader. We need a high growth economy but we have to recognize that we are facing very difficult problems as a country.”

Truss quickly replaced Kwarteng with Jeremy Hunt, a former cabinet minister of briefs who twice ran for leadership. She described him as “one of the most experienced and widely respected government ministers and MPs.”

Kwasi Kwarteng (second from left) arrived at London Heathrow Airport on Friday after being recalled from the US.

Opinions differ on whether the new Prime Minister will be a steady influence on the party or Truss. Some Conservative MPs think Hunt, who has served as health secretary, foreign secretary and culture, media and sport under previous governments, will bring unity to a still-reviving party. after the intense leadership contest in the summer.

He is respected by both the left and the right and has a calm, reassuring personality and is familiar with a certain type of Conservative.

However, he also easily let the opposition Labor Party attack. Skeptics point out that his record in government is patchy. Whether the accusations are true or not, opposition leaders can say that as Health Secretary he did not adequately prepare the UK health service for the coronavirus pandemic.

And as a candidate in the leadership contest the summer following the tumultuous rise of Boris Johnson as prime minister, Hunt has indeed pledged larger corporate tax cuts than Truss.

When asked why they think Truss chose Hunt, despite his apparent flaws, an influential Conservative MP told CNN it’s possible Downing Street has considered her leadership rivals from this summer’s run-off and recognize Hunt as the party’s left-wing candidate that has secured the fewest votes from MPs. Less threatening is to promote other candidates who have helped Truss run for more money.

Hunt will now speak in the country on October 31, to lay out a fiscal policy for the country that will explain how the government plans to balance the books as it borrows money to help people. pay energy bills for the next two years.

Truss said that the reversal in tax cuts would provide £18 billion. And it’s not out of the question to save even more when Kwarteng’s budget becomes a distant memory.

What the Conservative MPs are most worried about is that Truss’s credibility has been blown and her authority is gone. She has appointed a prime minister she cannot blame for any future hiccups, and now looks gravely weak in the face of a reinforced opposition Labor party, which is overtaking. leading in opinion polls.

New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Liz Truss waves as she leaves Conservative Party Headquarters on September 5, 2022 in London, England.  The Conservatives have elected Liz Truss as their new leader to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who resigned in July.

Liz Truss went from Liberal Democrat activist to Conservative Party leader

So what happens next? The next constitutional general election doesn’t need to happen until January 2025, though no one thinks Truss will last anywhere for that near time. However, removing the party’s fourth leader in just over six years in the short term will be difficult, even if things continue to go south.

Under party rules, Truss is protected from a leadership challenge during the first year of his term as prime minister. It’s possible her MPs could rewrite the rules, but even if they do, it’s unlikely that her replacement will turn the polls around.

One Conservative lawmaker even suggested that a good outcome would be to remove Truss so a new leader could try to turn the tide just enough to prevent the opposition from erupting in the next election. follow.

Some of her lawmakers fear that crowning another leader without consulting the public – just months after replacing Boris Johnson in a similar fashion – could make the party look worse in the public eye.

All of which means that for now, Truss and her team are at an impasse. And without major reforms, without key allies and party-wide alignment in the interests of unity, Truss’ government runs the risk of looking like a caretaker government simply waiting for someone else. take over.

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