Liz Truss announced her resignation as the British prime minister on October 20. Her six-week stay in office, which began with a dramatic experiment in trickle-down economics and finished with the majority of those ideas being reversed, was swiftly brought to an end with the economy still in disarray. Truss will be remembered as the British leader with the shortest tenure after serving for only 45 days. She was the third Conservative prime minister to be dismissed in as many years. Her resignation adds to the chaos that has been going on in Britain since it left the European Union. It also leaves the country’s leadership in dilemma at a time when the cost of living is going up amid a recession in the offing.
An unfavorable situation
Truss decided that she could no longer be prime minister because her plan to cut taxes was in shambles. Her Conservative Party lawmakers were rebelling, and her government was in the hands of individuals who did not support her or her policies. She leaves office having served as prime minister for the shortest time in British history.
Standing outside 10 Downing Street, the same place where Boris Johnson was forced to resign three and a half months earlier, Truss said that she had become a leader during a time of economic and international instability and that Conservative Party members had chosen her because of her plan for a high-growth, low-tax economy that would take advantage of the “freedoms” of Brexit. “I recognize though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.
I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party.” she stated. Truss’s speech was the short climax of a term that has been marked by economic chaos, party rebellion, a revitalized opposition, and a grow – ing legitimacy crisis.
Overall drama that led to Truss resignation
The first act of this drama was when Truss’s longtime friend and short-lived chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced the minibudget. The budget promised tax cuts that would be paid for by borrowing money from the government. This scared the markets so much that the government had to get rid of the most controversial part of the budget quickly (tax cuts for the rich). This U-turn was insufficient, and Truss fired Kwarteng and appointed Jeremy Hunt in his stead. Hunt is a seasoned politician who has been called a ” safe pair of hands,” thus Truss felt that he would be a better choice.
But by October 19, it seemed like the Truss administration was living hour by the hour instead of day by day, and it was evident that keeping her in office any longer might be worse for politics than getting rid of her. The two primary dramas that day served to highlight this. Suella Braverman, the home secretary, was forced to resign for emailing a formal document from her personal email after allegedly arguing with Truss about immigration. The resignation letter from Braverman was harsh, saying “Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if everyone can’t see that we have made them, and hoping that things will magically come right is not serious politics.
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I have made a mistake; I accept responsibility; I resign.” That evening, there was a big fight over a vote on fracking. Tory MPs were told at first that this was a vote of confidence (where loyalty is expected). They were then encouraged to believe it wasn’t a vote of confidence, though. As a result of the ensuing chaos, MPs seeing it claim that they had been “manhandled” and “bullied.” The chief whip, who is in charge of maintaining order, reportedly yelled “I’m no longer the chief whip” in the parliamentary hallways. By midday the next day, Truss had resigned. A general election was called for immediately by the opposition Labour Party.
However, the Conservatives are not obligated to call one until January 2025 under British law. Conservative legislators could force a vote if enough of them sided with the opposition, but because the party’s popularity is plunging in polls, it is in their best interests to delay any vote. The British political system has its own flexible set of rules that they can use to change party leaders, and by extension, the prime minister.
Just one day after saying in Parliament, “I’m a fighter, not a quitter,” Ms. Truss quit after a hastily planned meeting with party seniors, including Graham Brady, the chief of a group of Conservative lawmakers that has a big say in choosing the party leader. Ms. Truss declared that she would stay in position until the party decided on a replacement at the end of the next week. That sets off a frantic, un – certain drive to remove her from a party that is profoundly divided and demoralized. Truss’s brief premiership, however, shows that it is risky to try to govern without public support or a specific mandate.
New leadership contest: Chaos to Party Unity
With Liz Truss’ dramatic departure the conservative party faced another leadership contest within 44 days. The leadership contest was announced to be happening in a more streamlined way this time. The contestants had to gather the support of at least 100 MPs to be qualified as a nominee. If there were more than two nominees, the least supported nominee was to be automatically eliminated.
The top two nominees were scheduled to contest in an online vote by a conservative party member. Rishi Sunak, who lost the leadership contest to Liz Truss last month, came out as the front-runner. Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the house, threw her hat in the ring officially. But there was a strong sense of chaos when some ministers and MPs started giving their support publicly to scandalous ex-premier Boris Johnson. Johnson cut short his family holiday from the Dominican Republic and flew back in economy class.
Although he had apparently the necessary support of the required 100 MPs, he received a strong negative reaction from the opposition parties, many quarters of the public, and even from within his own party. As Penny Mordaunt’s camp failed to get the necessary support of the 100 MPs, it went down to Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson. The two top runners had a closed-door meeting, after which Boris Johnson publicly thanked his supporters and bowed out of the contest.
SENSIBLE SUNAK BECOMES BRITAIN’S FIRST NON-WHITE PM
Highly regarded as a sensible personality, Rishi Sunak has become Britain’s first non-white Prime Minister of Indian origin – thereby having won the contest to lead the Conservative Party. He is entrusted with guiding a highly divided nation through an economic downturn that is likely to leave millions of people poorer. Sunak, 42, is one of the richest politicians in Westminster. He is also the country’s youngest leader in modern times and the third in less than two months.
A brief account of Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak was born on May 12, 1980, in Southampton- ton, Hampshire, South East England. His grandparents were Indian. His father was a general practitioner, while his mother was a pharmacist who ran a local drugstore. He studied in Winchester College. Sunak studied philosophy, politics, and economics at Lincoln College, Oxford. He was the leader of the Oxford Trading & Investment Society, which gave students the chance to learn about financial markets and global trading. Sunak worked as an intern for the Conservative Party while he was a student at Oxford. He pursued his MBA at Stanford University as a Fulbright scholar.
Sunak was an analyst with the investment bank Goldman Sachs from 2001 to 2004. In September 2006, he quit his previous job, joined The Children’s Investment Fund Management (TCI), and was made a partner. In 2009, he joined Theleme Partners, a different hedge fund company. He was also the director of the investment company Catamaran Ventures, which was owned by his father-in-law, businessman N. R. Narayana Murthy.
He was selected as the Conservative candidate for Richmond in 2014. (Yorks). The Conservative Party held the seat for more than 100 years. He co-authored a report on BME communities in the UK while serving as the head of Policy Exchange’s Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit that year. He was chosen as Richmond’s MP in the 2015 general election (Yorks). He was a representative on the Select Committee for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs from 2015 to 2017.
In 2016, he voted for the EU referendum. He also authored a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies. It supported the idea of free ports after Brexit. The next year, he wrote another report that supported the idea of a retail bond market for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). During the 2017 General Elections, he was re-elected from the same seat. From January 2018 to July 2019, he was the Under-Secretary of State for the Parliament.
In the 2019 contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party, he supported former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In fact, he co-wrote an article for a British national daily to promote Johnson during the campaign in June 2019.
In February 2020, he became the Chancellor of the UK government. His tenure in the office of the Chancellor was marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. He was wildly lauded for guiding the British economy in a scenario that no one ever saw before. He publicly resigned from Boris Johnson’s cabinet after the revelation of the Chris Pincher scandal. As he was seen as a major ally of Johnson, his resignation triggered an avalanche of other resignations and the eventual downfall of Boris Johnson.
CHALLENGES AHEAD FOR RISHI SUNAK
Sunak received the most challenging economic and political legacy of any British leader after the World War Two and would be confined by the errors committed by his forebear Truss. Britain is experiencing unprecedented levels of inflation. It is now higher than 10%. The expense of living is out of control for consumers as actual incomes are declining. They are experiencing a nightmare with their finances. Sunak will need to come up with strategies to control inflation and the recession as he has to restore confidence in the markets. He has to coordinate spending reductions and tax increases with the Bank of England. A financial report addressing these problems is due on October 31.
Sunak had earlier pledged to tighten immigration restrictions to the UK. Sunak had promised to tighten the criteria for who is eligible for asylum while introducing an annual cap on the number of refugees. In spite of legal obstacles, he also backed a government plan to deport illegal immigrants seeking refuge in the UK to Rwanda for processing. Sunak wants to implement “enhanced powers” that will allow him to detain, tag, and watch over anyone who is entering the UK illegally. This requires an immediate plan of action.
In the upcoming days, the UK will experience a wave of strikes. A rail union has already declared a week of industrial action in November in response to a disagreement over wages, job security, and other working conditions. Higher education professionals in the United Kingdom have voted to strike over salary, working conditions, and pensions. Before Christmas, more than 70,000 employees at 150 colleges may go on strike.
“I pledge that I will serve you with integrity and humility and I will work day in, day out to deliver for the British people. The United Kingdom is a great country, but there is no doubt we face a pro- found economic challenge. We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together because that is the only way we will overcome the chal- lenges we face and build a better, more prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren”Rishi Sunak in his First Speech as British PM
MAJOR PROMISES AS PRIME MINISTER
Guarantees that taxes will be reduced “once we’ve gripped inflation,” adding that it is a matter of when not if.
Promises to lower the basic income tax rate by 1p in April 2024 and another 3p by the end of the upcoming Parliament.
Promises to eliminate the 5% VAT on household energy for a year if the price cap on bills for the average household goes above £3,000.
States that independent pay review bodies should decide on pay deals in the public sector.
As chancellor, he has increased National Insurance by 1.25 pence per pound to finance for health and social services. He would also simultaneously increase the salary threshold to £12,570.
Revealed the plan to raise the corporate tax from 19% to 25% in April 2023.
Ensures the maintenance of defense spending and advises that the present minimum level of 2% of GDP be considered as a “floor, not a ceiling.”