EXPLAINER: Why was Truss’ tenure so short — and now what?

Oct 20, 2022, 11:03 AM | Updated: 12:20 pm
A bookmaker takes bets for the next British Prime Minister after Liz Truss resigned in London, Thur...

A bookmaker takes bets for the next British Prime Minister after Liz Truss resigned in London, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. Truss resigned Thursday, bowing to the inevitable after a tumultuous, short-lived term in which her policies triggered turmoil in financial markets and a rebellion in her party that obliterated her authority.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss took office last month with hopes and promises of reinvigorating the British economy and putting it on the path to long-term success.

It didn’t go to plan.

Instead, Truss’ tenure was scarred by turmoil as her economic policies threatened the country’s financial stability, driving the pound to record lows, sparking chaos on bond markets and increasing mortgage costs for millions of people.

Though Truss took office amid a cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, her decision to announce 105 billion pounds ($116 billion) of tax cuts and spending increases without providing details on how she would pay for it unnerved investors, who warned of soaring public debt.

That undermined confidence in the government’s ability to pay its bills and raised questions about the economic credentials of a new prime minister who took office after a deeply divisive contest for leadership of the governing Conservative Party.

The disarray surrounding the economic plan weakened Truss’s authority as prime minister, and ultimately led to her decision to resign on Thursday

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

The party says it will select a new leader and prime minister by Oct. 28. Truss will remain prime minister until then.

To avoid the need for a lengthy election campaign that could have left the country without an effective government for weeks, party leaders decided that lawmakers would have greater say in the choice and without weeks of hustings around the country.

Under the expedited process, challengers for the leadership must garner the support of 100 other Conservative lawmakers — out of a total 357 — by Monday afternoon. That means a maximum field of three for lawmakers to vote on. The last-placed candidate would then be eliminated and the top two candidates will face an online vote of the party membership.

Conservative leaders are hoping that this lightning contest will produce a consensus candidate who can unite the party behind the tax and spending priorities Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt has already outlined.

WHAT ARE THE BIG HURDLES?

The first challenge will come just days after the new prime minister takes office, when Hunt delivers his fiscal plan to the House of Commons on Oct. 31.

Truss triggered the crisis that led to her downfall when she and Hunt’s predecessor unveiled plans for sweeping tax cuts without saying how they would pay for them and without providing independent analysis of their impact on government finances.

Since taking office last week, Hunt has reversed most of those cuts and promised to cut government debt as a percentage of economic output in the coming years. He has also warned that painful spending cuts will be needed during what’s likely to be a “difficult” winter.

Opposition parties and some Conservative lawmakers are already pushing for increased spending in areas such as healthcare, welfare benefits, state pensions and free school lunches to shield the poorest in society from spiraling prices.

WHY DOESN’T THE UK HAVE A GENERAL ELECTION?

Legally, the government isn’t required to call an election until December 2024, five years after the Conservatives won a landslide victory under then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

But opposition parties and some members of the public are demanding an immediate election after the uproar of recent months. Truss was forced out of office after less than two months on the job and she followed Johnson, who resigned after his authority was undermined by a series of scandals.

The damage done by Truss and Johnson has cratered support for the Conservatives, with some analysts suggesting they would lose many seats if an election were held today. Because of this, the new prime minister is expected to resist calls for an early election, and instead try to use the next two years to rebuild confidence before going to voters.

David Lawrence, a research fellow at the Chatham House think tank in London, said people are likely to be focused on the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy bills this winter, and that gives the Conservatives time to try to change the narrative.

“I think what will matter most in the next election is how the prime minister, the government has dealt with those challenges,” he said. “So if the new Conservative leader believes that they can take control of the energy crisis … and that the cost-of-living crisis is dealt with, that people feel they have more money in their pockets by the time of the next election, I think that’s the best they can hope for.”

But the pressure for an election may be difficult to resist.

“At the end of the day, the constitution doesn’t require it, but … I agree with the principle that we should test the new prime minister in reasonably short order, rather than wait until potentially January 2025,” Conservative lawmaker Mark Garnier told the BBC on Thursday. “I think people would be furious, rightly furious” if we didn’t hold an election.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of British politics at https://apnews.com/hub/liz-truss

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Liz Truss makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street where she announced her resignation as Prime Minister, in London, Thursday Oct. 20, 2022. Truss resigned Thursday, bowing to the inevitable after a tumultuous, short-lived term in which her policies triggered turmoil in financial markets and a rebellion in her party that obliterated her authority. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)
            
              A bookmaker takes bets for the next British Prime Minister after Liz Truss resigned in London, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. Truss resigned Thursday, bowing to the inevitable after a tumultuous, short-lived term in which her policies triggered turmoil in financial markets and a rebellion in her party that obliterated her authority.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
            
              Liz Truss, followed by her husband Hugh O'Leary, right, walks back into 10 Downing Street after making a statement where she announced her resignation as Prime Minister, in London, Thursday Oct. 20, 2022. Truss resigned Thursday, bowing to the inevitable after a tumultuous, short-lived term in which her policies triggered turmoil in financial markets and a rebellion in her party that obliterated her authority. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

AP

Associated Press

TV anchors T.J. Holmes, Amy Robach leave ABC amid romance

NEW YORK (AP) — T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, anchors at the afternoon extension of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” are leaving the network after their romance was reported in November. The pair were taken off the air and placed on temporary hiatus after photos surfaced of them holding hands and spending time together. Both were […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Delaware Gov. John Carney tests positive for COVID-19

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Delaware Gov. John Carney has tested positive for COVID-19, the governor’s office announced on Saturday. Carney tested positive late Friday using an at-home antigen test after experiencing mild symptoms, according to a news release. Carney, 66, said he’s “feeling fine” and is isolating himself — following U.S. Centers for Disease Control […]
12 hours ago
FILE - FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court on Jan. 3, 2023, in New York, a...
Associated Press

FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, DOJ tussle over his communications

Federal prosecutors are trying to prohibit FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried from privately contacting current and former employees of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange to prevent potential witness tampering in a criminal case accusing him of bilking investors and customers. The request, made in a letter filed late Friday by U.S. Justice Department lawyers, prompted an indignant […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Challenge for Tunisian democracy: Getting voters to show up

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia was once the Arab world’s hope for a new era of democracy. Now it’s in the midst of an election that’s more of an embarrassment than a model. Barely 11% of voters turned out in the first round of parliamentary elections last month, boycotted by opposition Islamists and ignored by […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Philippines probes labor abuses in Kuwait after new killing

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government said Saturday it will take steps to assess and prevent abuses including rape and maltreatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, after a housemaid was killed and dumped in a desert in the oil-rich emirate. The remains of Jullebee Ranara were flown home Friday night from Kuwait, where the […]
12 hours ago
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks during a conference in Tripoli, Libya, Saturday, Jan. ...
Associated Press

Italy, Libya sign $8B gas deal as PM Meloni visits Tripoli

CAIRO (AP) — Italy’s prime minister held talks in Libya on Saturday with officials from the country’s west-based government focusing on energy and migration, top issues for Italy and the European Union. During the visit, the two countries’ oil companies signed a gas deal worth $8 billion — the largest single investment in Libya’s energy […]
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
EXPLAINER: Why was Truss’ tenure so short — and now what?