Suella Braverman is second senior UK cabinet official to quit Liz Truss government


LONDON — Struggling British Prime Minister Liz Truss lost her second key cabinet official on Wednesday, with Home Secretary Sulla Braverman resigning and expressing “concern about the direction of this government” .

In her resignation letter, Braverman emphasized that she “chosen” to leave – suggesting she was not fired like Treasury Secretary Quasi Kwaten was last week.

As a justification, she said she wrongly broke the rules by sending an official document to a lawmaker from her personal email. She made what could be read as an implicit criticism of the prime minister, writing that “the government’s job depends on people taking responsibility for their mistakes” and “pretending we didn’t make mistakes as if everyone couldn’t. … Seeing we’ve made them and hoping things will magically turn around is not serious politics.”

She then took the opportunity to publicly attack the Truss government.

“Not only have we broken key promises to voters, but I have serious concerns about this administration’s commitment to deliver on manifesto promises, such as reducing overall immigration numbers and deterring illegal immigration, especially dangerous small boat crossings,” she wrote.

Braverman has been pushing the government to deport migrants who entered the UK illegally to Rwanda – a plan that has run into legal obstacles. This week, she drew attention for blaming “the janitor’s tofu-eating Volkrati” for the damaging climate protests.

As home secretary, Braverman held one of four “Great National Offices,” or the most senior positions in government. When Truss appointed her cabinet six weeks ago, it was celebrated for the first time without a white person holding one of Britain’s four highest politically powerful seats.

But since then, Kwarteng has been replaced by a white male Conservative: Jeremy Hunt. It’s unclear who will replace Braverman. Foreign Secretary James Cleverley still hangs there. Although Truss himself was in serious trouble.

Truss, who declared herself “a fighter, not a quitter”, was called to resign herself earlier in the day at her first public inquiry since she fired the finance minister and saw her economic agenda undermined .

Truss apologised to parliament — in part — for having been heavily criticized for first proposing big tax cuts and then changing herself after her policies teetered financial markets.

“I’m very clear, I’m sorry, I made a mistake,” she told lawmakers in the House of Commons, where opposition members accused the new prime minister of going to power without a viable plan and mandate.

If Truss is in trouble, so will the UK economy. Just hours before she appeared in parliament, the government reported that inflation rose to 10.1 per cent in September compared to last year’s prices. Higher food costs have driven prices soaring.

Before Truss became leader, the economy was in trouble — though she arguably made things worse. Energy costs are soaring, in part due to Russia’s war in Ukraine; the pound is taking a hit; the Bank of England warns of a possible recession before the end of the year.

In her speech, Truss blamed global headwinds for the problems — not her botched economic growth plan, which envisages tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, paid for with heavy borrowing and more debt.

With Liz Truss’ agenda destroyed, Brits ask PM if PM is still in power

Her appearance on the Prime Minister’s Question or PMQ – her third since becoming the country’s leader six weeks ago – found Truss mostly on the defensive. She lashed out at opposition parties. But the opposition has not ruled Britain for the past 12 years. Her Conservatives have.

Labour leader Keir Starmer asked Truss: “What’s the point of a PM who promises nothing for a week?”

Starmer said Truss’ now-failed economic plan had caused homeowners’ adjustable mortgage rates to soar, and accused her of “destroying” the UK economy.

“How could she be held accountable for not being in charge?” Starmer asked, referring to how her new treasurer, Jeremy Hunt, proposed a brand new government policy this week. Some politicians and the British media have called Hunt the “de facto prime minister”.

“My actions are in the national interest to ensure our economic stability,” Truss countered.

The comments from the public are brutal. A YouGov poll found that only 10 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Truss, making her the least popular prime minister the group has tracked. Another survey found that a majority of Conservative Party members – a small fraction of those who voted for her in office – now want to see her resign.

If Truss stays in office, it’s probably not because she’s a fighter but because Conservative lawmakers – who will have to pressure her or vote her out – have a presence on who might replace her disagreement.

Cleverly was among those in the party calling for patience. Speaking to Sky News, he said “running another leadership campaign, defending another prime minister” would not “convince the British people that we are thinking of them and not ourselves” or “convince the markets to remain calm”.

“I’m angry, I totally get it, but it’s an emotional response, not a plan,” he added.

The latest double-digit inflation reading was the highest in 40 years, matching July’s figure after falling slightly to 9.9% in August. The government’s target inflation rate is 2%.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Wednesday showed that the increase in costs was mainly driven by food prices, which rose 14.5% compared to the same period last year. This was the largest annual increase since 1980.

“Following a slight dip last month, headline inflation is back at the highs seen earlier in the summer,” Darren Morgan, head of economic statistics at the ONS, said in a statement. “This increase was driven by further growth in the food sector. This is the largest annual increase in more than 40 years, and hotel prices have risen after falling this time last year.”

Falls in gasoline and airfare prices have moderated the increase to some extent, while used car prices have not risen as much as they did last year, he added.

Hunter responded to the data, saying he understood people across the country were struggling with higher bills.

“This government will prioritise helping the most vulnerable, while achieving broader economic stability and driving long-term growth that benefits all,” he said.

On Monday, Hunt announced that Truss’ previous pledge to help Britons pay for energy over the next two years had been scrapped because it was too expensive. Right now, support is only guaranteed until April 2023. Hunter said further help would be “targeted”.

So far, the government has refused to fund the subsidies through a windfall profits tax on oil and gas suppliers, as the opposition has demanded.

Experts warn that bills could soar from an average of $2,800 a year to more than $4,500 next spring due to rising global energy prices.

The crunch in household costs has hit the lowest earners hardest, as they spend most of their money on food, fuel and energy.

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