UK Prime Minister Truss clings to power as chaos in Westminster escalates

  • Truss loses authority as lawmakers squabble
  • Pound stable against the dollar
  • Some lawmakers say Truss needs to go now

LONDON, Oct 20 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Liz Truss fought to retain her grip on power on Thursday, a day after the departure of a top second minister and the breakup of rowing and the jostling between its legislators in Parliament in a dramatic breakdown of unity and discipline. .

After just six weeks on the job, Truss was forced to scrap nearly her entire political agenda after triggering a bond market rout and a slump in her and her Conservative party’s approval ratings.

In just six days, she lost two of the government’s four most important ministers, sat expressionless in parliament as her new finance minister tore up her economic plans and faced howls of laughter as she tried to defend its balance sheet.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

“We can’t go on like this,” a Tory MP told Reuters on Wednesday of the chaotic scenes in parliament.

The sight of another unpopular Prime Minister clinging to power underscores how volatile British politics have become since the 2016 vote to leave the European Union sparked a battle for the country’s leadership.

Truss became Britain’s fourth prime minister in six years after being elected to lead the Conservative Party by its members, not the wider electorate, and with the support of only around a third of party lawmakers. She promised debt-financed tax cuts, deregulation and a sharp right-wing shift on cultural and social issues.

His abrupt loss of authority comes as the economy heads into recession and his new finance minister, Jeremy Hunt, rushes to find tens of billions of pounds in spending cuts to reassure investors who have had afraid of Truss’ political proposals.

Government borrowing costs, although lower than they were at the height of the crisis last week, remain high as investors wonder who is in charge and whether Hunt will be able to restore confidence in Britain’s once solid economic reputation.

Crispin Blunt, a Conservative lawmaker for 25 years, told Reuters the situation was so dire his colleagues had to allow someone with experience to take control.

“Personal considerations and ambition must now be put aside,” he said, adding that he would support Hunt as a leader.

Simon Hoare, in parliament for seven years, said Thursday and Friday were difficult days for the government. “I have never experienced…a growing sense of pessimism in all wings of the Conservative Party,” he said.


Truss has been fighting for his political survival since September 23, when his then finance minister and close ally Kwasi Kwarteng announced a “mini-budget” of sweeping unfunded tax cuts that sent waves of shock in the financial markets.

She sacked Kwarteng on Friday and his interior minister, Suella Bravermanresigned on Wednesday.

With opinion polls showing the Tories at risk of being wiped out in the next election, some lawmakers say Truss should leave to try to rebuild their brand. Others seem to have given up.

“Unfortunately it looks like we need to change leaders BUT even though the angel Gabriel now takes over, the parliamentary party urgently needs to rediscover discipline, mutual respect and teamwork if we are (i) going to do well rule the UK and (ii) avoid slaughter at the next election,” lawmaker Gary Streeter tweeted.

With inflation at its highest level in 40 years and mortgage rates rising, scenes of war and lawmakers’ intrigues in Parliament are likely to deepen anger among voters bracing for a tough winter marked by rising mortgages. food and energy prices.

Wednesday’s parliamentary drama was sparked by confusion over whether a vote on fracking was being used as a vote of confidence in the government. Opposition lawmakers said some of Truss’ Tories were “roughed up” to get them to vote with the government.

As lawmakers lined up to speak out against the situation in the country, the government could not say for several hours whether the politician in charge of party discipline, or chief whip, had resigned or not.

In a sign of the chaos, Truss’ Downing Street office issued a statement at 01.33 (0033 GMT) to say the Prime Minister had “full confidence” in the chief whip and his deputy.

He also said any lawmakers who abstained in the vote to allow fracking could “expect proportionate disciplinary action.” Voting results show more than 30 Conservative lawmakers did not vote, including those who were absent or sick.

Transport Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, sent Thursday morning to speak to broadcasters and radio stations, was asked if Truss would lead the Conservative Party in the next election, due in 2024.

“As of now, that’s still the case,” she said.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

Written by Kate Holton; additional reporting by Farouq Suleiman and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by William Schomberg, Sarah Young and Catherine Evans

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *