In a blank voice, Liz Truss tried, Friday, October 14, to draw a line under her catastrophic debut at the head of the British government.
Less than six weeks after becoming prime minister, and three weeks after the presentation of a budget that caused a financial panic, she called an emergency press conference. She announced there that she had fired Kwasi Kwarteng, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance), to whom she was very close, and that she had given up a key measure in her budget, by finally increasing the tax on companies. “The priority is to ensure economic stability. (…) It’s tough, but we’ll weather the storm. »
Mme Truss, who answered just four questions and wrapped up the press conference after nine minutes, nominated Jeremy Hunt, a Conservative Party cacique who was ousted from government three years ago, as the new chancellor. Symbol of the current instability of British politics, it is the fourth holder of the post since the beginning of the year. We have to go back to 1834 to find a series of such rapid successions.
The tenure of Liz Truss at the head of the British government, which only began on September 6, began to derail on September 23 when her chancellor presented the budget. In addition to a freeze on gas and electricity bills (at double last year’s level, despite everything), he announced the largest tax cuts since 1972, without explaining the financing.
Worried, the financial markets immediately sanctioned the measure: the pound sterling fell to the lowest level in its history against the dollar, and interest rates on British loans soared. It took the intervention of the Bank of England to restore calm. The polls have followed the trend: the Conservatives are now twenty-six points behind Labor on average, at 26% against 50%.
Mr. Kwarteng and Mr.me Truss, close friends who had prepared the budget together all summer, tried to get out of this very bad patch. They first announced the cancellation of the income tax cut for the richest (which was to drop from 45% to 40% above 172,000 euros per year). Then, faced with the internal revolt in the Conservative Party, and the persistent tremors of the markets, the Prime Minister decided, Thursday evening, to get rid of Mr. Kwarteng. The latter returned urgently from Washington, where the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund was held, to present his resignation. He lasted thirty-eight days in his post.
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