LONDON (HPD) — Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss’s position hung in the balance Thursday after the resignation of a top minister from her government, who criticized her management, and a vote in the House of Commons ended in chaos and reproaches.
The failed economic plan presented by his government last month triggered financial chaos and a political crisis that led to the replacement of the Treasury secretary, multiple changes of direction in his policies and a breakdown of discipline in the ruling Conservative Party.
Many Conservatives believe Truss should resign, but she has remained defiant, saying “I’m a fighter and I’m not giving up.”
According to Conservative lawmaker Simon Hoare, the government is in disarray.
“Nobody has a route plan. It’s all sort of a day-to-day melee,” he told the BBC on Thursday, adding that Truss had “about 12 hours” to turn things around.
Newspapers that tend to be sympathetic to the conservatives were very critical. An editorial in the Daily Mail was headlined ‘The wheels of the Tori clown car have come off’.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan gave an interview Thursday morning to defend the executive, insisting it offers “stability.” But she could not guarantee that Truss will be the Conservative candidate in the next election.
“At the moment, I think this is the situation,” he said.
With opinion polls giving the Labor Party a wide and growing lead, many Conservatives now think their only hope of avoiding an electoral debacle is to replace Truss. But they are divided on how to get rid of her and no candidates to succeed her have emerged yet.
A general election is not due until 2024 and, by Communist Party rules, Truss would technically be safe from challenges to her leadership for a year. But this could change if enough lawmakers call for it, and there is growing speculation about how many lawmakers have already sent letters requesting a motion of no confidence.
In a major setback for the president, the secretary of the interior, Suella Braverman, resigned on Wednesday after breaking the rules by sending an official document from her personal email account. She used her resignation letter to lash out at Truss, stating that she had “concerns about the direction of this government.”
“The functioning of the government depends on the people accepting responsibility for their mistakes,” he said in a thinly veiled hint at the leader.
Braverman was succeeded as Home Secretary, the ministry responsible for immigration and security, by former cabinet minister Grant Shapps. She is a prominent supporter of Rishi Sunak, the former Treasury secretary who lost to Truss in the last round of the Conservative leadership race.
Truss faced more trouble overnight over a parliamentary vote on hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, a practice he wants to resume despite opposition from many Conservatives.
With a large Conservative majority in Parliament, the opposition’s call to veto fracking was easily dismissed, but some lawmakers were angry that Conservative Party officials said the vote would be treated as a confidence vote, which means that the government would fall if it did not move forward.
The House of Commons experienced angry scenes, with party bosses accused of using tough tactics to win votes. Labor lawmaker Chris Bryant said he “saw members being physically abused…and intimidated.” Conservative officials denied that there had been ill-treatment.
It was also rumored that the party’s chief discipline officer, Wendy Morton, and her right-hand man had resigned, but hours later Truss’s office said they were still in their posts.
The dramatic developments came just days after the prime minister sacked her treasury secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, on Friday, after the economic plan they both presented on September 23 rocked financial markets and sparked an economic crisis and politics.
Speaking to lawmakers for the first time since the shift in economic policy announced Monday by Kwarteng’s replacement, Jeremy Hunt, Truss apologized on Wednesday and admitted that he had made mistakes during his six-week term, though he insisted that, by change course, he had “assumed responsibilities and made the right decisions in the interest of the economic stability of the country”.