Britain: In a confession made on Sunday, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss acknowledged that her recent debt-fueled mini-budget, which generated a week of market upheaval, depressing headlines, and catastrophic surveys, should have been better anticipated by the British people.
The new Tory leader said her contentious policies will restore economic growth to Britain as it struggles with decades-high inflation and an impending recession less than a month into the job but already enmeshed in a serious problem.
As the annual conference of her disgruntled ruling Conservative Party got under way in Birmingham, Truss told the BBC, “I do stand by the package we released… but I do accept we should have laid the ground better there.”
In addition to dealing with the energy crisis and inflation, she continued, “We have a clear plan going ahead to get the economy booming and to put us on a sound long-term foundation.”
Opposition parties, a sizable portion of the populace, and even Conservative MPs — particularly those who supported her failed leadership competitor Rishi Sunak — are horrified by the tax-cutting ideas that finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng announced ten days ago.
The deal caused the markets to crash, and the Bank of England launched an emergency intervention to save troubled pension funds, which prepared the ground for a challenging four-day meeting in Birmingham.
Following Truss, top Tory MP Michael Gove declared the plans “profoundly” incorrect and called for “a course correction” in an appearance on the BBC.
Before Sunday, Truss broke almost a week of silence with a series of radio interviews with local BBC stations. During these appearances, her awkward pauses made almost as much headlines as her defence of the plan.
Then, in follow-up interviews and a newspaper piece published on Friday, she vowed to continue the measures while gaining “an iron grip” on the public finances.
The under-fire leader reaffirmed Sunday, “Of course, we need to bring down borrowing as a percentage of GDP over the medium term, and I have a strategy to do so.
Since Kwarteng introduced the controversial proposals on September 23, the live TV appearance was her first in front of a national UK audience. It also came after a number of polls shown a sharp decline in support for her party.
According to a YouGov poll released on Friday, 51% of Britons believe Truss should step down, while 54% want Kwarteng to do the same.
Recent surveys revealed that the opposition Labour party has its largest lead over the Conservatives—up to 33 points—since the late 1990s, when former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair was at the height of his popularity.
In a similar vein to Blair, Labour leader Keir Starmer claims that his party now represents the majority of UK voters and has urged Truss to convene a special session of parliament rather than holding her conference.
As it is, Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, and Sunak are apparently avoiding Birmingham.
But at what the Conservatives describe as Europe’s biggest yearly political event, Truss will have no shortage of detractors waiting in the wings.
Anger over growing energy costs and the government’s response to the deteriorating cost-of-living problem gathered in large numbers in London and Birmingham on Saturday, with additional protests scheduled for the start of the Conservative conference on Sunday.
Prior to Truss concluding the four-day grassroots meeting on Wednesday with the leader’s keynote address, Kwarteng is scheduled to address it on Monday.
Both parties conceded ground Friday by permitting the Office for Budget Responsibility to deliver Kwarteng an initial independent costing score-card of their economic proposal later next week, even though they have both ruled out making any changes to it.
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8—who appointed Truss just two days before she passed away—the conference schedule has already been reduced in order to cut back on some of the after-hours partying.
Given their polling results, the Tories have little to celebrate because they have fueled rumours that Truss could step down as leader or that she might give Kwarteng up.
To avert the kind of doomsday scenario outlined by senior Tory MP Charles Walker, many pundits are calling on the Birmingham couple to repent.
The earliest general election is scheduled for is January 2025. Walker asserted that if one were to be held tomorrow, “we would cease to exist as a functioning political party.”