Britain frustrated by political and economic tumult as Liz Truss quits
Many Friday morning commuters seemed to grapple with the idea that their political landscape was more chaotic than they had imagined, just over a month after the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. And politics aside, they expressed similar concerns about the future.
“We don’t think anyone is actually taking action,” Barclay said. “And we’re coming into winter, and the bills just keep going up.”
The abrupt resignation of Liz Truss on Thursday, after just six weeks in office, once again opened the race for someone to run the country through record inflation, recession forecasts and political questions about immigration, climate change and the war in Ukraine.
“It is a worrying time. They spent the summer going through this campaign to find out who was going to win, and chaos ensued as soon as she took office, ”said Lucy Waller, who works in event organization and has two children. “And now I worry about what the next few days will look like.”
British newspapers lambasted Truss’ brief stint in power. “WORST PM WE’VE EVER HAD,” a headline screamed.
Others had already gone from Truss, featuring the Conservative Party uproar, and photos of his predecessor Boris Johnson, whose July resignation after the scandals piled up was no less dramatic. Speculation over his return to the helm has now sparked another shock wave.
The left-leaning Mirror plastered the words ‘GENERAL ELECTION NOW’ across its front page – a demand Labor and other opposition politicians have been pushing for.
On his way to get his flu shot, Jeremy Evans, a painter, echoed that sentiment.
“Thank God she’s gone,” he said. “We need general elections. We just feel exasperated and really tired of the endless uproar. They won’t let us have a say, it’s pretty incredible.
Under current rules, Britain is expected to hold its next general election by January 2025. A older petition for a general election “to end the chaos of the current government” was rapidly gathering more votes on Friday, surpassing 700,000 signatures.
Truss took office after being elected by members of the Conservative Party to replace Johnson, rather than a disputed general election. She will remain in place through another leadership selection, which her party says will be done within days, a much shorter timeframe after the last contest lasted about two months.
For Waller, the event organizer, it seemed “everything has gradually gotten worse and worse” in recent months as infighting distracted politicians around the country.
“The cost of food is going up, wages are not going up,” she said. “I’m trying to move, and what would have been completely affordable just six months ago is now really unaffordable.”
Some were more optimistic, such as David Ogbechie, a consultant who hoped Truss’ departure would spark a financial rebound.
Truss was quick to reverse her view of growth, quickly dismiss his finance minister after a policy that included tax cuts for high earners and corporations ended up spooking the markets and sinking the pound.
“Maybe things will start to look up after their erratic leadership,” Ogbechie said. “You can’t really do worse in a short time. They’ve kind of already helped bring the UK to rock bottom, so the only way is up.
Michelle Bree, a chef, was less critical and hoped the bid for a new chef wouldn’t drag on. “I think there was pressure on her and it was too much,” she said.
But the British media were not sympathetic. Late Thursday, the popular BBC show “Newsnight” showed a recap of Truss’ tenure in just under two minutes, set to Rihanna’s “Take a Bow.”
The montage’s background music included lyrics such as “you look so stupid right now” and “now it’s time to go, the curtain is finally closing”.