Uncertainty continues to swirl around UK Prime Minister Liz Truss’ potential to stay in office, following Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement on Monday morning that nearly all the tax cuts Truss had promised in her campaign would be scrapped.
Truss had run for the premiership on an ambitious program of tax cuts and energy subsidies that she promised would stimulate economic growth and alleviate the pangs of average citizens in the face of escalating cost of living. When former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced those tax cuts officially, immediate outcry followed, as they coincided with a sharp drop in value of the pound relative to other international currencies, particularly the U.S. dollar. Karteng was quickly sacked and replaced by Hunt on Friday, October 14th. The following Monday, October 17th, he publicly walked back most of the plan that Truss had been elected on.
In an interview on Monday evening, Truss told the BBC’s Chris Mason she was “sorry for the mistakes that have been made,” in a further effort to shore up her unstable premiership.
She said she remained committed to a “low tax, high growth economy,” but that preserving economic stability was now the “priority.” She said that her promised program would be implemented, but more slowly.
“I do think it is the mark of an honest politician who does say ‘yes, I’ve made a mistake. I’ve addressed that mistake. And now we need to deliver for people,” she said. “It would have been completely irresponsible for me not to act in the national interest in the way I have.”
She also expressed confidence that she would lead the party and her country until the next scheduled election.
But many in her own party are disenchanted with her already, upset by her swift U-turn in replacing Kwarteng with Hunt, and are considering ways of ousting her as quickly as possible. Others are still willing to give her a chance, fearing the party would destroy itself with another change of prime minister.
“I’ve never known the atmosphere to be as febrile as it is at the moment,” one veteran Tory MP who backed Truss in the leadership contest told Politico on Friday, October 14th.
“It feels like the end. I think she’ll be gone next week,” another MP who supported her reportedly said.
Five Tory MPs’ have publicly called for her resignation, according to the Telegraph.
The BBC reports that other MPs believe the prime minister has made the right move by appointing Hunt and going back on her original economic growth plan. They are waiting to see what further measures Hunt offers in the next economic statement slated for October 31st.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey has also defended Truss.
Heappey told the BBC that the public “will not indulge the Conservative Party tearing itself apart” through another change of leadership.
“We have seen over the past two or three weeks what the economic price of political instability has been,” Heappey added.
Meanwhile, the opposition is calling for general elections.