Liz Truss resigns as UK PM: live updates

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her resignation Thursday, quickly ending a six-week stint in office that began with a radical experiment in trickle-down economics and descended into financial and political chaos. since most of those policies were reversed.

With her tax-cutting agenda in tatters, lawmakers from her Conservative Party in revolt, and her government in the hands of people who did not support her or her policies, Truss, 47, concluded she could no longer govern. She leaves as the shortest-tenured prime minister in British history.

“Given the situation, I cannot deliver on the mandate for which I was elected by the Conservative Party,” said a somber Truss, standing on the rain-slick pavement outside 10 Downing Street, where just 44 days ago she greeted the public as The New Leader of Great Britain.

Ms. Truss said she will remain in the post until the party chooses a successor at the end of next week. That triggers an extraordinarily compressed and unpredictable fight to replace her in a party that is demoralized and deeply divided. Among the possible candidates is Boris Johnson, the flamboyant former prime minister whom she replaced after he was forced to resign in a series of scandals.

Just a day after declaring in Parliament: “I am a fighter, not one who gives up,” Truss walked out after a hastily scheduled meeting Thursday with party leaders, including Graham Brady, the head of a group of lawmakers. Conservatives who plays an influential role in the selection of the party’s leader.

Credit…Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

It was the most shocking shock in a week of seismic events that included the ouster of Mrs Truss’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng; the bitter departure of Home Secretary Suella Braverman; and a near-riot in Parliament on Wednesday night, as cabinet ministers tried to force undisciplined Conservative lawmakers to back the prime minister in a vote on a fracking ban.

The show dramatized how Mrs Truss, only the third female prime minister, after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, had lost control of her party and government.

By then, however, his mandate had already been shredded: His proposals for sweeping, unfunded tax cuts rattled financial markets over fears they would put a hole in Britain’s finances.

That sent the pound into a tailspin that briefly left it near parity with the dollar, forced the Bank of England to intervene in bond markets to prevent the collapse of pension funds, and sent interest rates soaring. the mortgages.

The resulting chaos has left Britons frustrated and jaded, with many convinced the country is out of control.

“We are in an economic crisis, a political crisis, a food crisis, a crisis of everything,” said Cristian Cretu, a gas engineer on a break from work. “Whoever is going to replace her, I don’t think it will make a difference.”

The opposition Labor Party called an immediate general election. But under British law, the Conservatives are not required to convene one until January 2025.

If enough Conservative lawmakers joined the opposition, they could force an election, but with the party’s support collapsing in opinion polls, it is in the Tories’ interest to delay any meeting with voters. British political convention also allows them to change party leaders, and thus the prime minister, using their own flexible rule book.

Credit…Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Mrs Truss’s position was already shaky on Monday, when her new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced that the government would undo the last vestiges of his tax proposals. As Mr Hunt presented the details of the amended tax plan in Parliament, a quiet Mrs Truss sat behind her, a distant smile on her face.

For Britain, it is another chapter in the political upheavals that followed its vote to leave the European Union in 2016. The country will soon have its fifth prime minister in six years. Mrs Truss is the third consecutive leader to be ousted by the Tory Party, which now appears to have become warring factions and has fallen as much as 33 percentage points behind the opposition Labor Party in the polls.

The political upheaval also comes just a month after Britain buried Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned for seven decades and acted as an anchor for the country. Among the Queen’s last official duties was greeting Mrs Truss at Balmoral Castle after she had won the party’s leadership contest. On Thursday, Truss said she had informed King Charles III of his decision to resign.

The Conservatives announced rules for the new leadership contest, including a minimum threshold of 100 nominations from lawmakers, which will limit the number of candidates to a maximum of three.

From a list of two, selected by lawmakers, members of the Conservative Party will then vote online to choose the victor, with the aim of avoiding the protracted, multi-stage campaign last summer that resulted in Ms Truss. In fact, the contest may not go that far: If only one candidate makes it past the 100-nomination threshold, or if the second-place contender drops out, there will be a decision on Monday.

“In recent leadership contests, they have chosen someone who is grossly unsuitable for the job,” said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. “It is unlikely that anyone can rescue them electorally, but there are people who can get into number 10 and do the job of prime minister intellectually, emotionally and practically.”

Still, the upheavals of recent days have highlighted just how divided the Conservative Party is, after 12 grueling years in power, and how difficult it will be for Truss’s successor to unite it.

Credit…Andy Buchanan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Rishi Sunak, a former chancellor who ran against Truss last summer and warned that his proposals would produce chaos, should be in the top position as he led the Treasury and performed well under pressure in the leadership campaign. But he lost that race largely because many party members blamed him for bringing down Johnson, whose cabinet he resigned from.

“The obvious candidate is Rishi Sunak,” said Professor Bale. “The question is can they forgive him? The situation is now so dire that people might be ready to forgive him for his so-called sins.”

That is far from clear, however, because Sunak is also mistrusted on the right-wing of the party and among staunch Brexiteers in Parliament. His leadership would be hard for some who opposed him to swallow, including business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, who once refused to deny reports that he had outlined Sunak’s policies, which included tax increases, as “socialists”.

Supporters of Johnson, who is reported to be considering running for his old job, argue that because of his landslide election victory in 2019, he is mandated to lead without holding another general election. Under the hashtag #bringbackboris, one of his followers, James Duddridge, wrote on Twitter: “Hope you enjoyed your vacation boss. Time to go back. Few problems in the office that need to be addressed.”

But restoring him would be very risky, given the circumstances of his forced resignation in July and the fact that he remains a polarizing figure among voters. Johnson is also being investigated by a parliamentary committee into whether he misled the House of Commons about the Downing Street lockdown-breaking parties.

Even if Johnson is exonerated, it will remind Britons of the serial scandals that led lawmakers to oust him. And the committee could recommend Mr Johnson’s expulsion or suspension from Parliament, a sanction that could mean his constituents get a vote on whether to expel him from Parliament altogether.

Braverman laid bare the party’s ideological divisions in a fiery letter written after she was fired, apparently for violating security regulations by sending a government document to her personal email. He accused Ms. Truss of going back on her promises and being soft on immigration.

Credit…Sam Bush for The New York Times

Braverman’s parting shot illustrated the resistance of right-wingers to what they see as the growing influence of Hunt, a moderate who voted against Brexit and was a supporter and ally of Sunak. Hunt, who ran twice for party leader, said this time he would not be a candidate.

If the Conservatives were to allow Downing Street to fall into the hands of another untested candidate, outside the mainstream, such as Ms Braverman or perhaps Kemi Badenoch, who currently serves as international trade secretary, there could be renewed instability in the markets. financial.

Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons who finished third in the race last summer, appears well positioned to bridge the gap. She is a good communicator, but she has not been tested at the highest level of government.

Another option could be a candidate with little ideological baggage, such as Ben Wallace, the Secretary of Defense, or Grant Shapps, the new Home Secretary. But Wallace decided against running earlier this year, saying he didn’t want the job bad enough. Mr. Shapps concluded that he did not have the support to win.

Whoever is elected will inherit a huge array of problems, from 10.1 percent inflation and sky-high energy prices to job unrest and the specter of a deep recession. The new leader will have to make public spending cuts that are likely to meet resistance from different coalitions of conservative lawmakers.

On Monday, Hunt said the government would end its massive state intervention to cap energy prices in April, replacing it with an as-yet-undefined program that he said would promote energy efficiency. That could prove unpopular, adding to the uncertainty for households facing rising gas and electricity prices.

While the government abandoned Mrs Truss’s tax cuts, in one of the most stunning policy shifts in modern British history, the chaos her program unleashed on markets has left lingering damage. Rising interest rates have made borrowing more expensive for the government, economists said, creating pressure for even deeper spending cuts.

Despite infighting within the Conservative Party, Professor Bale said he believed it was not inherently ungovernable, provided it made the right decision. As recent history has shown, the stakes for the match are extremely high.

“The Conservative Party is an incredibly leadership-dominated party,” he said, “which means if you get the leader wrong, you’re in serious trouble.”

Euan District Y elizabeth egg contributed report.

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