Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightArticlechevron_rightAfter the sacking of...

After the sacking of finance minister by Liz Truss

After the sacking of finance minister by Liz Truss

On October 14 the British Prime Minister did what she had vowed not to do: she told her Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) to resign. If he did not tender his resignation, he would be dismissed. Kwasi Kwarteng duly resigned. He lasted a record brief time en poste: a mere 37 days. Kwarteng was recalled early from a conference abroad to resign.

It is all the more galling since Kwarteng and Truss have been friends for decades. They are also ideological soulmates. Truss seems desperate to save herself. Truss and Kwarteng both blamed each other for the disastrous budget. A previous Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously said, ''You cannot buck the market.'' But the market bucked them!

Pundits have been saying that if Truss were to axe her Chancellor it would be a low and cowardly thing to do. She is scapegoating him. The buck stops with her. Ultimately the PM is responsible. Kwasi Kwarteng has a stellar CV and an alpha mind. As a former banker himself, he was supposed to know what he was doing. But the suits in the City say he played havoc with the markets. The market likes predictability, certainty and continuity. The Conservative Government has been all over the place in recent years. People call it a total chaos show.

Ironically, Truss told Kwarteng to stand down just as things were starting to improve. The markets liked the U-turns. The Pound had started to climb.

The Conservative Party's ratings are in the pan. The party is at an all-time low in the opinion polls. Asked about voting intention, a mere 20% of people say that they would vote Conservative if there were an election tomorrow. The Conservatives are in danger of coming third behind the Liberal Democrats.

Until now all three of the great offices of state under Truss were not occupied by white males. James Cleverly is mixed race (black and white), Kwasi Kwarteng is a black Britisher, and Suella Braverman is a British Indian. Truss appointed Jeremy Hunt as the new Chancellor. Hunt was once Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. The marathon runner is the dull but decent archetype. Hunt is the son of an admiral and Hunt later became a self-made millionaire. He was the head boy of his school: Charterhouse. Hunt is a safe pair of hands but very conformist and unimaginative. The Staid convention is precisely what the financial sector is crying out for.

Hunt was twice a candidate for the Conservative leadership. He was runner-up in 2019 and declined to serve under Johnson. He came last in a field of 8 in 2022.

The United Kingdom now has its third Chancellor in as many months. It is the fourth Chancellor in 2 years. To think Labour had the same Chancellor, Gordon Brown, for 10 years. The Treasury could do with some continuity. Musical chairs in the cabinet is beginning to look farcical.

For the Labour Party, Liz Truss is the gift that keeps on giving. For several years Labour was led by a deeply unpopular leader named Jeremy Corbyn. Truss would envy the approval rating Corbyn. Her approval is at -60%.

As Truss is an electoral asset to the opposition Labour Party, there is no doubt that Labourites would like Liz Truss to stay in office as long as possible. If she were replaced by a more credible alternative, then the Conservatives could enjoy a surge in the polls. The Tories are sure to try it. After all, things can scarcely get worse, carry on as they are and no change means no chance.

It is impossible for Truss to come back from this. A PM usually comes in and enjoys a jump in the polls. Truss has had a dump in the polls. And she will only sink lower. What is rock bottom? The Tory Party dares not find out.

Liz Truss is so emotionally retarded as to be perhaps genuinely unperturbed. Affecting Thatcherite insouciance and unflappability does not cut it.

I used to think Truss would last until the local elections in May 2023. If the Tories suffer a drubbing (very probable) then she would be ousted by her party. However, it is more likely that she shall be pushed out by Christmas 2022.

By mid-October, there were reports in the media that there was a conspiracy in the Conservative and Unionist Party to push out Liz Truss. The idea would be a duumvirate: Sunak and Penny Mordant. Sunak would be PM and Miss Mordaunt would have another top post possibly as Chancellor. No female has ever held the chancellorship. It remains the only cabinet post never to have been occupied by a woman.

The likelihood is that Truss shall be forced out by Christmas. A vote of confidence will kick her out as a leader. The Conservative Party will unite around a single candidate for the top job. That is probably Rishi Sunak who was preferred by the parliamentary party. He correctly forecast in August that Truss' economic plan would be a debacle. At the moment he is keeping a very low profile.

Penny Mordaunt is Lord Privy Seal. Truss could sack her for disloyalty if the rumours of Penny plotting are substantiated. But Truss will probably reason that she cannot afford to lose another cabinet minister so soon and does not need more foes on the backbenches sharpening their daggers.

Other candidates who could take over instead of Rishi Sunak are Nadhim Zahawi, Jeremy Hunt, Tom Tugendhat, Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch. They all sought leadership this summer. Of these, Hunt is probably the most credible despite his dreadful performance in the summer leadership contest.

The Deputy Prime Minister is bland and has no following. She shan't put her hat into the ring.

In Boris Johnson's valediction, he said he was like Cincinnatus returning to his plough. The Oxford classical scholar could not resist an allusion to Ancient Rome. Those who knew their history realised that he was hinting he wishes to be recalled to office in the hour of crisis. Now the notion of Boris as a comeback kid does not seem so daft. Many grassroots Tories never wanted him to go in the first instance. But Johnson is all chaos and bombast. That is now what the doctor ordered.

A change of PM could really boost the Tories. In 1990 John Major took over from Maggie Thatcher when Tory ratings were miserable. He scrapped the poll tax and within months was the most popular PM in decades. He led the Conservatives to a surprise victory in 1992.

If Truss falls, then Labour will celebrate. But rejoicing will be short-lived if they face a formidable Tory opponent.

Show Full Article
TAGS:Boris JohnsonRishi SunakLiz TrussKwasi KwartengTory governmentJeremy Hunt
Next Story