a thought for British Conservative Members of Parliament.
UK’s ruling party thought they were bad scandalous Boris Johnson ruining poll numbers and turning what was once called the government’s natural party into an exploding clown car.
But exhausted lawmakers who spent a tremendous amount of energy trying to impeach a reluctant Johnson this summer say her replacement, Liz Truss—with just 37 days to go—seems determined to make the situation worse.
After unfunded tax cuts, massive government borrowing, and a mini-budget that allowed energy companies to avoid an unexpected tax, they were faced with the dire reality of having a leader after sterling plummeted and all sorts of wider economic chaos. It is considered more harmful than Johnson, but it will be even more difficult to replace.
On Friday morning, Truss’ finance minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, returned from the United States earlier than expected, fueling speculation that the government was ready to make a humiliating U-turn on tax cuts and that Kwarteng was at serious risk of losing his job.
“Even if you think he sucks, we can’t replace him so soon,” a former cabinet minister and Truss supporter told CNN. “I’m not optimistic about the future, but we need to try it and learn from mistakes.”
The mistakes most lawmakers agreed were terrible communications from the government and trying to do too much too quickly without being adequately funded.
“Truthfully, they committed to spending big to help people with energy bills, then they immediately started talking about tax breaks,” says one senior Conservative. As a result, “they don’t even get a loan to spend a lot of money. When you declare such policies, you have to turn the field like crazy. Why didn’t they go out on the field?”
During a meeting with reserve MPs on Wednesday night, Truss was asked to reverse the elements or, in some cases, to reject outright the controversial mini-budget that Kwarteng submitted only three weeks ago.
The government had to make a U-turn to a cut in the top tax rate, one of the most controversial aspects of the mini-budget, just a week after its announcement, despite Truss defending the policy a few hours before the announcement. .
He defended the economic policy that, according to one current MP, made the room feel “wake-up” and “terrible.”
“No one cared what he said because they didn’t think he could do enough to fix the problems he was having at the moment. Yet he managed to make things worse,” said another MP who was present at the meeting.
Truss defended his government’s policies as the best way to stimulate growth and investment in the UK economy. He believes prudent economic orthodoxy has for years banned growth and that tax cuts will lead to a boom in inward investment.
It may seem strange to those who follow this argument. actions of the Bank of Englandforced to buy large amounts of government debt to stabilize markets. The debt-buying program will end on Friday, but there is speculation that the program will continue and there may be more u-turns in the government’s own economic policies.
The misery among the Conservatives has snowballed, for many who now consider losing their seats and the next general election the most likely outcome.
“Anyone who thinks Truss can unify the party is absolutely delusional,” says a senior party adviser. An influential former government aide told CNN that even majority lawmakers are starting to approach them for career advice.
Getting rid of Truss, the fourth leader of the Conservatives, seems unlikely in the short term, but it is discussed as a real possibility in the medium term. Minds are currently focused on October 31, when Kwarteng will present a financial plan explaining how it plans to balance the measures announced in the mini-budget.
“If we ignore the crazy optics of doing this on Halloween, if they can deliver something consistent that calms the markets, then we have some breathing space and we can try to kick it out,” an influential Conservative backbencher told CNN.
But things could turn very fast if Kwarteng fails to calm the nerves. It is possible for deputies to call for their dismissal. However, doing so could be dangerous for Truss, who is so ideologically attached to the Chancellor that releasing him would be an tacit admission that he himself had failed.
If the chaos continues, lawmakers will have to make very difficult choices. They know that removing Truss from office so soon after taking office is not good for voters. The calculation they face is whether another leader could reverse the poll and make election prospects less bleak.
There is still more time until the next general election, which is constitutionally not required to be held by January 2025. So there is time for the vote to return. The question is when and how they can remove Truss. Conservative lawmakers, albeit very disorganized, could try to change the party rules and trigger a leadership contest. And there’s no guarantee that a new leader will be able to close the double-digit poll gap that Truss currently suffers from.
It is worth noting that when discussing the removal of Truss, lawmakers did not mention a new leader who could win the election. Almost all agree that this is a long way off. Instead, they talk about a new leader who can lighten the blow and win as many seats as possible when the election comes.
One Conservative even suggested that a good outcome would be for a new leader to turn things around until the opposition Labor Party could still win the next election but reject a majority. This could, in theory, force a deal with smaller parties that would undermine Labor and possibly trigger another election that a renewed Conservative party could win.
All of this may sound dramatic to viewers, given that there’s plenty of time for things to develop.
This is probably the best indicator of how miserable Conservative lawmakers are. Tired of the wars of the Brexit years and the painful process of sacking Johnson, they are now run by someone who they think got things wrong but is too stubborn to change.
And in the current situation, it seems that no one in the party – now or anytime in the near future – has the courage to fight too much.
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