British Prime Minister Liz Truss has described herself as “a fighter and not a quitter” as she faces hostile opposition and fury from her own Conservative Party over her failed economic plan.
Truss attended her first Prime Minister’s Questions session on Wednesday since newly appointed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt tore up the tax cut package put forward by his new government less than a month ago.
She has apologized to parliament and admitted that she made mistakes during her brief tenure as UK prime minister.
Some politicians shouted “Resign!” as she spoke.
When the leader of the opposition Labor Party, Keir Starmer, asked him: “Why are you still here?” Truss replied: “I am a fighter and not a deserter. I have acted in the national interest to make sure we have economic stability.”
A package of unfunded tax cuts that the Truss government announced on September 23 sent turbulence to financial markets, hit the value of the pound and increased the cost of UK government borrowing.
The Bank of England was forced to intervene to prevent the crisis from spreading to the wider economy and putting pensions at risk.
Under intense political and economic pressure, Truss last week fired his ally Kwasi Kwarteng as finance minister, replacing him with cabinet veteran Hunt.
On Monday, Hunt scrapped nearly all of Truss’s tax cuts, along with his signature energy policy and promise not to cut government spending.
He said the government will need to save billions of pounds and “many tough decisions” need to be made before it sets out a medium-term fiscal plan on October 31.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged Conservatives to give Truss another chance, saying “mistakes happen.”
“What you have to do is recognize when they have happened and have the humility to make changes when you see that things did not go well,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, Truss told parliament that she was committed to raising state pensions in line with the level of inflation, but refused to give the same guarantees for welfare payments and foreign aid.
Asked if Truss had gotten rid of the policy, known as the triple lock because it raises publicly funded pensions at the higher of income, inflation or 2.5 percent, he told the House of Representatives. the Commons that she remained fully committed to her.
“We have been clear in our manifesto that we will maintain the triple lockdown, and I am fully committed to that, as is the chancellor (finance minister),” she told politicians.
Asked if social benefit payments could be given the same security, Truss said the country had helped the poorest by providing energy subsidies and would always help the most vulnerable.
Asked about the country’s foreign aid budget, Truss said more details will be established in due course.
Britain scrapped a long-standing policy of spending 0.7 per cent of economic output on foreign aid during the pandemic, reducing it to 0.5 per cent.
‘motion of confidence’
Truss faces another test in parliament later when MPs vote on a motion by the opposition Labor Party that seeks to ban fracking for shale gas, a policy Truss recently approved.
The Conservative Party whips said the vote would be treated as “a motion of confidence in the government”, meaning the government would fall if the motion passed.
The Conservatives’ 70-plus majority makes that unlikely, but the vote will be closely watched for signs of dissent over Truss’s leadership.
Under Conservative Party rules, Truss is safe from a leadership challenge for a year, but the rules can be changed if enough MPs want it.
Some Conservative politicians also believe that Truss could be forced to resign if the party agrees on a successor. So far, there is no favorite.
Truss’s defeated rival for the Conservative leadership, Rishi Sunak, House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt and popular Defense Secretary Ben Wallace all have supporters, as does Hunt, whom many see as the first de facto minister.
Some are even in favor of the return of Boris Johnson, who was sacked in the summer after being embroiled in ethics scandals.
Cleverly said he understood why colleagues were angry, but added: “That’s an emotional response, it’s not a plan.
“What doesn’t convince me, far from it, is that going through another leadership campaign, removing another prime minister, will either convince the British people that we are thinking of them and not us, or it will convince the markets. to stay calm and ensure that things like bond yields and gilt yields start to come down,” the foreign secretary told Sky News.