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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
HomeEconomyLiz Truss loses 2nd minister in 6 days and sees frying increase...

Liz Truss loses 2nd minister in 6 days and sees frying increase in the UK

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UK Prime Minister Liz Truss on Wednesday sought to defend her position as leader of a government on the brink of collapse. “I’m a fighter, not a quitter,” she said during a session in Parliament where she was answering questions, particularly about her economic plan that went down the drain.

Hours later, the British lost another important name in their government. Suella Braverman, who headed the Interior portfolio, resigned under a technical justification: she said she violated officialdom rules by sending official documents using a personal email profile.

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The background, however, is different — and Braverman’s letter posted on Twitter points in that direction. “I am concerned about the direction of this administration. Not only have we broken important promises made to our constituents, I also have serious concerns about this administration’s commitment to honoring commitments,” he wrote.

Braverman referred in particular to the government’s immigration policy. She advocates for the UK to take a tougher stance against migrants. At the head of the ministry, she even prepared a proposal for a law that would ban foreigners crossing the English Channel from seeking asylum and said it was her “dream” to see a government flight deporting applicants to Rwanda – a possibility barred by the British court.

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The new interior minister will be Grant Shapps. He has been at the head of the Transport Ministry, was one of the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party – and, consequently, for the post of premier. When the dispute came between Truss and former finance minister Rishi Sunak, Shapps supported Sunak.

This is the second time that the prime minister has named supporters of her opponent in her government. Last week, she fired Kwasi Kwarteng, the finance secretary, and swore in Jeremy Hunt.

The core of the tensions for the Truss government is precisely on the economic agenda. Since her campaign to lead the Conservatives, she had been proposing a tax cut. After the election, the market reacted badly to the plan, fearing catastrophic consequences of the fall in tax revenue at a time of high inflation driven by rising energy costs. At the time, the value of the pound and the prices of government bonds plummeted, forcing the Bank of England to step in to protect pension funds.

“I acted in the national interest to ensure that we have economic stability,” Truss said, repeating the same argument used two days earlier, when in an interview with the BBC she apologized for the mistakes and commented on the reasons for having reversed her strategy in less than six weeks of government.

Also this Tuesday, the prime minister said she was committed to readjusting state pensions in line with inflation; days earlier, Hunt had deflected when asked about the matter.

In the country, a mechanism guarantees that pension amounts are corrected based on inflation, a minimum wage increase or 2.5% – readjustments are usually made in April.

“We were clear in our manifesto that we will maintain this mechanism, and I am committed to that, as is the finance minister,” Truss told parliament. On the other hand, it did not give the same guarantee to other welfare payments and foreign aid.

The fact is that Truss needs to win the support of the British: the YouGov institute reported, on Tuesday (18), that eight out of ten people disapprove of the government. The rate of 77% is the highest level of dissatisfaction in the last 11 years of monitoring.

Of those surveyed, 87% said they believe Truss is misguiding the economy. Among conservative voters, only one in five has a favorable opinion of her.

Amidst the devastating scenario, a number worries the prime minister even more: the number of parliamentarians willing to remove her from office. According to YouGov, only two in five (38%) defend her permanence; those who wish to resign reach 55% of respondents.

In practice, her departure from office is conditional on the presentation of 54 letters from her co-religionists asking for a vote of confidence, which would need the support of more than half of the Conservatives – 180 ballots. Boris Johnson went through the process shortly before resigning and survived.

According to the British newspaper Daily Mail, about 100 Conservatives are already willing to ask for his resignation and would be pressuring Graham Brady, who heads the Conservative Party collegiate in charge of leading the party’s leadership disputes, to go ahead with the process.

Brady, however, would be reticent about a possible new change in party leadership, noting that Truss and Hunt deserve the chance to define an economic strategy by October 31, when the fiscal plan for the coming months will be presented.

Wings of the Conservative Party also try to stifle criticism. Also on Wednesday, parliament voted on a bill introduced by the Labor opposition to ban the practice known as fracking, of shale gas exploration, something that some conservative figures have also criticized.

Truss’s supporters, however, were grudgingly instructed to vote against the motion, despite their opinions. Internally, the vote was seen as a kind of vote of confidence for the leader. In the end, text was defeated by 326 votes to 230.

Conservative MP Charles Walker told the BBC that the voting scenes were regrettable and inexcusable. “It’s a reflection of how the Conservative Party is doing and, obviously, the current government.”

Truss seems to have taken another step this Tuesday to try to make his term last longer than a lettuce plant. The satirical comparison is from the tabloid Daily Star, which, inspired by a metaphor from The Economist magazine, created a live stream to follow the dispute.

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