Liz Truss defends first month in office at Conservative Party conference

LONDON — Prime Minister Liz Truss tried to cement her authority in her first month in office on Wednesday, claiming that while not everyone supports the changes her new government is pushing, “everyone is All benefit from the results – economic growth and a better future.”

But just moments before her keynote address at the annual Conservative Party conference, she was interrupted by Greenpeace protesters holding banners that read: “Who voted for this?” They were quickly brought out up the hall.

British Prime Minister Liz Truss was questioned by two protesters holding Greenpeace flags during a speech in Birmingham, England, on October 10. 5. (Video: Reuters)

Following the many scandals of her predecessor, Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party conference featuring a new prime minister is a moment the party hopes will mark a new beginning. Instead, Truss had to defend her first few weeks as prime minister, already marked by historic economic volatility, revolt within her party and voters turning away from the Conservatives in droves.

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“I’m ready to make tough choices,” she said. She warned of “stormy days” ahead but insisted the UK needed to “do things differently” and that “wherever there is change, there will be disruption”.

“I am determined to take a new approach to get us out of this cycle of high taxation, low growth,” she told a gathering of party loyalists in Birmingham, England.

Talking about the protesters later, she spoke dismissively of an “anti-growth coalition” of the country’s broad population, including opposition politicians, “radical unions, vested interests masquerading as think tanks, people who speak up” , Brexit deniers, Extinction Rebellion and some of us in the lobby earlier.”

“The truth is they prefer to protest than to do it. They prefer to talk on Twitter rather than make tough decisions,” she said. “They hailed from their north London townhouses to BBC studios to fire anyone who challenged the status quo. From radio to podcasts, they peddled the same old answers. Always more tax, more regulation and more Intervention. Wrong, wrong, wrong.”

Truss had a lot to prove when he took office. Despite her somewhat prominent role as foreign secretary during the Ukraine war, the British public doesn’t know her as much as Johnson, a colorful former London mayor and newspaper columnist, did before he took the helm.

Truss is not motivated by a general election, but by a leadership race within the party. Even so, she was not the first choice of Conservative MPs, and some grassroots party members who had united her side admitted they had missed Johnson.

Two days later, Queen Elizabeth II died, interrupting any drive that Truss had as the new prime minister. The new prime minister toured four British countries with the new king, but she played a fringe role.

When attention finally returned to politics, things took a dramatic turn for the worse. Her government’s plan to grow the economy through tax cuts aimed primarily at the wealthy, which would be funded by billions of dollars in borrowing, has left investors scrambling to dump British assets. GBP/USD fell to an all-time low. The Bank of England had to intervene to quell the revolt in financial markets.

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It was only after 10 days of economic turmoil and intense pressure from her party that Truss changed course, announcing Monday that she would drop the most controversial element of her economic plan: a proposal to scrap the top income tax rate.

Sterling has since rebounded. But divisions remain within the Conservative Party, as this week’s minutes have made clear. On Tuesday, Home Secretary Sulla Braverman slammed “coups” within the party for “undermining the authority of our prime minister in an unprofessional manner”.

Meanwhile, opinion for the Conservative Party has fallen sharply, falling by 20 to 30 percentage points over the past two weeks.

“This is the most dramatic polling turnaround of my life,” said Chris Curtis, head of political polling at Opinium Research.

Curtis said the Conservatives “have lost the perception that they are the economically competent party – it’s that simple”.

One polling Figures released on Tuesday night showed the opposition Labour Party leading the Conservatives by 38 percentage points in the “red wall” region of northern England, trailing the Conservatives in the 2019 general election.

If an election is held today, pollsters say Labour will win its largest majority.

“This shift in opinion polls shows that the British electorate is increasingly unstable. It’s increasingly aligned with party attachment. Voters will move from one party to the next,” said Will Jennings, professor of political science at the University of Southampton. Say.

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The UK is far less politically polarised than the US. That’s partly because of Brexit, which has prompted many to leave the party they’ve supported for decades and consider themselves “leavers” or “stayers” — labels that cut across party lines. Now that Brexit is a foregone conclusion, Voters are willing to be influenced by other issues.

This volatility means the pendulum could swing back and forth many times before the next election, which could be as far back as January 2025, so neither the Conservatives nor Truss are in immediate danger.

Still, the Conservatives are known for their ruthless abandonment of leaders who no longer look like vote winners. Johnson was ousted midway through his term after a series of scandals, even as he led his party to a stunning majority in 2019.

If the Conservatives think Truss will drag them down, she could find herself sidelined like Johnson.

“She was in a vulnerable, delicate situation,” Jennings said. “If the Conservatives remain at their current level in the polls, [members of Parliament] would be very worried. One should never make too many assumptions about the future of politics, but she does find herself in a difficult position. Restoring the support of her MPs and voters will be a huge challenge. “

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