LONDON: Attacks and criticism are intensifying in the Conservative camp against British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was still trying on Sunday to defend her new economic course to save her head in Downing Street.
In the storm for several weeks, Ms. Truss again justified on Sunday her policy and her reversals of the last few days which have largely damaged the confidence of voters and her party.
“I listened, I understood,” wrote the conservative leader in a column published in the popular daily The Sun.
“We cannot embark on the path to a high-growth, low-tax economy without maintaining market confidence in our commitment to a sound currency,” she added, acknowledging the failure of her mini-budget announced on September 23.
Providing for massive debt-financed spending and tax cuts, he had shaken the markets, causing the pound to fall and interest rates to jump.
The Prime Minister held a crisis meeting at her country residence on Sunday with her new finance minister, Jeremy Hunt, appointed on Friday after Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked, to prepare a new budget plan.
Close to Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson’s former finance minister and opponent of Liz Truss in recent months in the Downing Street campaign, Hunt defended the new direction taken by the government on the BBC.
He reiterated that he should take “tough” measures, with tax hikes and spending cuts in all ministries.
threat of concerted strikes
A prospect that prompted various unions to threaten Sunday to launch concerted strikes across the country, at a time when the government wants to limit the right to strike in the face of the resurgence of social movements.
The new budget plan that Jeremy Hunt is due to present on October 31 promises to be a complete change of course compared to the policy initially carried out by Liz Truss.
According to a source in his entourage quoted by the Sunday Telegraph, the new finance minister now sees himself as the British Mario Draghi, an allusion to the head of the outgoing Italian government called to the rescue in early 2021 to manage his country in the midst of a pandemic.
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey on Saturday welcomed the “immediate and clear convergence of views” between the central bank and the new chancellor. A satisfaction that confirms the ascendancy that Jeremy Hunt seems to have over a weakened Liz Truss after only 40 days in power.
“Hunt takes control as plotters surround a weakened Prime Minister,” headlined The Times on Sunday, recalling that the Conservatives are still looking for a way to oust him from power.
Confidence “will not be restored as long as she remains” in her post, asserts the daily, which takes up the cause of Rishi Sunak.
The latter would act behind the scenes with conservative parliamentarians to take the helm, according to the press, which also cites Defense Minister Ben Wallace as a potential recourse.
“I think the game is over, and we now have to wonder about how to manage his succession,” judged the experienced Conservative parliamentarian Crispin Blunt on Channel 4.
Alicia Kearns, new chair of the influential Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons, said the question of whether or not to keep Truss in Downing Street was “very difficult”.
“We were questioned about our moral credibility (under Johnson). And now we are questioning our budgetary credibility”, she regretted on Times radio.
The polls are affected, with a considerable lead now given to the Labor opposition, two years from the next general election.
“The Prime Minister is in power,” assured Jeremy Hunt, in an attempt to defend Ms. Truss. “She changed the way we are going (to achieve our goals), but she did not change the direction, which is to grow the country,” he insisted.
The coming week will be crucial for Liz Truss, with the market reaction to the latest political developments over the weekend starting Monday.
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United Kingdom: Truss resolves to change economic course but is not saved