Topsy Turvy Tories: How Liz Truss' Government Collapsed And She Became The Shortest Serving PM In British History

Topsy Turvy Tories: How Liz Truss' Government Collapsed And She Became The Shortest Serving PM In British History

by Swarajya Staff - Oct 21, 2022 07:17 PM +05:30 IST
Topsy Turvy Tories: How Liz Truss' Government Collapsed And She Became The Shortest Serving PM In British HistoryLiz Truss

A day after saying “I am a fighter, not a quitter”, Liz Truss has been forced to resign, thanks to the 1922 Committe’s ultimatum. A Tory leadership contest will be held now and the winner will be declared within 7 days, unlike the previous leadership contest which dragged on. 

Talk is on now about who will replace her- will it be Rishi? Or will Boris return? Times has a report which quotes sources near Boris saying that Johnson believes it is in the nation’s interest that he returns, much like Cincinnatus of Rome. 

Let’s take a look at how Liz Truss’ premiership ended, the shortest premiership in Britain’s history by a far margin and yet, one of the few PMs who technically served under 2 monarchs. 

September 5: Liz Truss wins the Tory leadership contest and becomes the country’s next prime minister, largely due to her promises of a “bold plan” to cut taxes and grow the economy and “deliver on the energy crisis”.

September 6: Truss becomes Prime Minister and enters the 10 Downing Street after being invited to form a new government by the Queen at Balmoral. Delivers a speech from PM’s residence saying she is honoured to take on the role “at a vital time for our country”. Appoint her ally and friend Kwasi Kwarteng as the finance minister. 

September 8: The Queen dies. An eleven day national mourning is announced. All politics is set aside.

September 23: Kwarteng announces the biggest raft of tax cuts in 50 years, all unfunded. Borrowing an additional £70 billion, he introduces a package that includes abolishing the top rate of income tax for the highest earners and axing the cap on bankers’ bonuses while adding restrictions to the welfare system that acts a safety net for Britain’s most vulnerable.A plan that was prophetically dubbed “fairy tale economics” by Rishi Sunak.

The pound falls to a nearly 40-year low as UK’s financial markets witness capital flight. 

Questioned by reporters later that evening, the Chancellor insists his plan will encourage investment in the UK and rejects the suggestion his economic announcement was “a gamble”.

Truss’ government receives widespread criticism, senior Tory MPs start worrying about the fate of the party.

October 2: Truss refuses to accept mistakes in her mini-budget and says she is standing by her tax-cutting plan and moreover she refuses to rule out public spending cuts, which leads to fear amongst people that NHS’ funding will be undermined.

People criticised Truss for throwing her finance minister “under the bus” because she claimed that the abolition of the 45p top rate of tax was made by him, and not discussed with the Cabinet. Day one of Liz Truss’ attempt to wash her hand off the mess that the British economy has become due to her economic vision.

October 3: In a dramatic U-turn, Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng abandon their plan to abolish the 45p rate of income tax for top earners.

“We get it, and we have listened,” the Chancellor said, merely 24hrs after Truss said that she remains committed to the tax cuts.

Embarrassingly, Truss’ interview defending the 45p tax rate is aired on TV. The interview was recorded merely a few hours before the government’s u-turn.

October 14 - Liz Truss witnesses that the pressure from her own MPs isn’t dying down and decides to sack her finance minister, who was implementing her economic vision, hoping that the pressure on her will die down. 

Truss replaces Kwarteng with Jeremy Hunt. 

October 15 - The new finance minister Jeremy Hunt says that there were mistakes in Truss’ mini-budget and starts altering all the promises Truss made, on the basis of which she won the leadership contest against Sunak. 

October 16 - Senior Tory MPs like Andrew Bridgen and Jamie Wallis start telling publicly to the PM that she needs to go. Members of the 1922 Committee start thinking about ways to make her exit if she refuses to do so on her own.

October 17: Hunt ditches most of PM’s economic strategy in an emergency statement, hoping it would calm the markets.

The Chancellor scales back the energy support package and scraps “almost all” the tax cuts announced by his predecessor.

He abandons “plans to slash the basic rate of income tax by 1p – which had been due to be brought forward to April – saying it will remain at 20p in the pound until the country can afford to reduce it.

The cut in dividend tax promised by Mr Kwarteng is also axed in the policy bonfire, along with VAT-free shopping for overseas tourists, the freeze on alcohol duty, and the easing of the IR35 rules for the self-employed.

Ms Truss sits silently in the Commons for roughly 30 minutes as her Chancellor informs MPs of the change of direction, staring straight ahead as he bins huge chunks of her plan,” according to reports in British newspapers.

In an interview with BBC, Truss says that she will lead the party in the next General elections. Senior Tory MPs fear that she hasn’t got the message that it is time, time for her to go.

October 19 - Truss says that she is a “fighter and not a quitter”. Home Secretary Suella Breverman quits, expressing concerns about the direction in which the government is heading. Seems the way in which Boris Johnson was given the message so to say, that he needs to go, will also be the way in which the message will be delivered to Truss i.e. resignations from cabinet ministers. 

October 20 - Chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee (of Tory backbench MPs) Sir Graham Brady meets Truss at 10 Downing Street. An hour later, Truss steps out and announces that she has informed the King that she will be resigning. 

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