If the United Kingdom has not seen the worst economic crisis in several decades, it now has a political disaster after Liz Truss resigned as Prime Minister just 45 days after taking over from Boris Johnson. It is astonishing the country will have a third PM in a matter of a few months.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Truss declared in parliament “I’m a fighter, not a quitter!” and 24 hours later she announced her resignation. So much for British leadership.
In fact, she is the shortest-serving Prime Minister in British history and its remarkable just how many mistakes, U-turns, miscalculations and errors she managed to commit during those 45 days in office.
“I recognize, though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party,” she admitted in her resignation speech.
There were two notable foreign policy miscalculations made by Truss. She wanted to follow the path of former U.S. President Donald Trump and relocate the British embassy in the occupied Palestinian territories to occupied al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Even the new Australian administration has reversed such idiotic measures like recognizing al-Quds as the capital of the apartheid Israeli regime. Canberra “regretted” the decision taken by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, admitting it was a move to win more votes back home.
The other catastrophic foreign policy of Truss was pursuing her predecessor, Boris Johnson’s support for the Ukraine war. In essence, advocating for the delivery of weapons and violence instead of peace.
Russia’s foreign ministry welcomed the resignation saying she was a “disgrace” of a leader who will be remembered for her “catastrophic illiteracy”. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said “Britain has never known such a disgrace of a prime minister.”
Shortly before the Ukraine war erupted in February, Truss visited Moscow while she was serving as the foreign minister. In a meeting with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, she was confused about the regions of Russia and Ukraine, triggering ridicule from Russian diplomats and media.
The political domestic downfall began on 23 September, when her former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced the government’s mini-budget. An economic plan that tax cuts for the rich at a time of rising poverty and inflation.
Her short era saw protests, industrial action and growing public resentment over how out of touch those in power are with the general public’s financial suffering. That anger is expected to continue, expand and will await the next occupant of Downing Street.
Critics say deflecting accountability by blaming everything on “Putin, Putin, Putin” just won’t wash anymore with voters.
But the mini-budget also prompted a wave of economic turmoil and eventually led finance minister and her “long standing friend” being sacked last Friday.
Essentially the market volatility and the pound losing value against the dollar led to the end of Truss; not the tax cuts for the rich or lack of help for the rising level of citizens living in poverty. Truss did absolutely nothing to fight inflation which has returned to double digits in the UK.
In the lead up to her resignation more Tory MPs had publicly called for Truss’s departure but in the hours before she quit, a flurry of Tory MPs went public to reveal they wanted her to leave office.
In a sign of the public’s lost confidence in the government, the Conservative mayor, Andy Street, has warned his party the situation in Westminster is “a complete mess” and people in the country were feeling “utterly let down at a time when they face immense pressures in their daily lives”. He said “we are all crying out for strong and consistent leadership, and I dearly hoped we’d get it.
The UK regularly preaches about democracy to the world, yet Truss was nominated as the country’s Prime Minister by just 81,326 Conservative party members to represent the nearly 69 million people in the UK; many of whom now face the difficult choice of switching the heating on this winter or skipping a meal.
Like Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and her successor are being nominated in the same process by a small and limited number of Conservative Party members. The new Tory Prime Minister who will get the keys to Downing Street is set to be nominated by next Friday.
It is such an undemocratic process in the UK and so absurd that a ruling party can change the nation’s Prime Minister three times now without calling an election and the Conservatives will definitely not be calling a general election as they lag so far behind in the polls. The party knows it will lose by a significant margin.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May tried it once by calling an election in an attempt to expand her mandate and deliver on Brexit, only to lose her overall parliamentary majority in a humiliating setback in 2017.
The Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has added her voice to the growing calls for a general election, saying it was a “democratic necessity” that the vote goes to the public and not a small number of Tory party members.
“The idea the Tories can unite behind a prime minister now, any prime minister… is for the birds,” she said. Sturgeon added the “fundamental problem” was a “broken Tory party” and a “broken UK political system”.
In a statement, the Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said that Truss’s short term in office had brought “45 days of chaos and dysfunction”.
“Liz Truss’ legacy will be soaring mortgage payments, wrecking the economy, lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses and working in the interests of the super-rich.”
Tory MPs being suggested as possible candidates for the top job are Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak and Kemi Badenoch. Two popular British newspapers are also reporting that Boris Johnson is expected to make a surprise stand for the leadership.
The Liberal Democrat party said “the fact that Conservative MPs are even considering putting Boris Johnson back in Number 10 shows how out of touch they really are. They think there’s one rule for them and another for everyone else.
“Boris Johnson was forced to resign in disgrace after countless lies, scandals and failures. He shattered public trust in the government and plunged the UK into a political crisis. He must never be allowed near Downing Street again.
“The future of our country should be in the hands of voters, not the Conservative MPs who have caused all this chaos.”
The calls for a general election are becoming deafening. The opposition Labour and Liberal Democrat parties are demanding one immediately.
Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party said, “The Conservative Party has shown it no longer has a mandate to govern.
“After 12 years of Tory failure, the British people deserve so much better than this revolving door of chaos. In the last few years, the Tories have set record-high taxation, trashed our institutions and created a cost-of-living crisis. Now, they have crashed the economy so badly that people are facing £500 a month extra on their mortgages. The damage they have done will take years to fix.
“The Tories cannot respond to their latest shambles by yet again simply clicking their fingers and shuffling the people at the top without the consent of the British people. They do not have a mandate to put the country through yet another experiment; Britain is not their personal fiefdom to run how they wish.
“The British public deserve a proper say on the country’s future. They must have the chance [to vote in a general election].
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey echoed those calls saying, “We do not need another Conservative prime minister lurching from crisis to crisis, we need a general election, we need the Conservatives out of power and we need real change.
“It is time for Conservative MPs to do their patriotic duty, put the country first and give the people a say.”
The first minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, has also called for a general election saying, “This has been a complete and utter failure of government, with everyone in this country now having to pay the price.
The complete lack of leadership is preventing decisions and actions from being taken to deal with the many challenges we are facing and help people over what is going to be a very difficult winter.
Unfortunately, the deep and intractable divisions within the government means that any successor put forward will face the same set of challenges.
A general election is now the only way to end this paralysis.”
Meanwhile, the Green party has joined calls by other opposition groups in demanding a general election be held for the public to choose who they want to lead them out of the country’s economic mess.
In a statement, co-leader Carla Denyer said, “The Tory chaos has spiraled beyond any pretense that the country has a viable government … The government simply cannot govern – it is unfit for office … We need a general election now so people can vote for the policies they want to see that will turn this mess around.”
But the undemocratic issues persist in this political system. It means no other party can serve the desperate people despite consecutive Conservative governments (which are accused of serving the rich) retaining power since 2010.
The comedic aspect of Truss’s 45 days in office has not been lost on British media and international diplomats.
As pressure grew on Truss a week ago, British media set up a live stream of a lettuce to see if the vegetable would last longer than the outgoing premier. And it appears the lettuce outlasted the PM. That caught the attention of the Kremlin with the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev who reacted to Truss’s resignation with a social media post saying “Bye, bye @trussliz, congrats to lettuce”.
Meanwhile a cat by the name of Larry who has lived in Downing Street since 2011, was pictured waving off his fourth prime minister – six weeks after saying goodbye to his third. The pet has been in office longer than four prime ministers: David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson – and now – Liz Truss.
Questions have already been raised as to how long his successor and fifth Tory Prime Minister will last?
From our partner Tehran Times