I’m a fighter not a quitter, says embattled UK PM Truss
LONDON — British Prime Minister Liz Truss said she was a “fighter not a quitter” as she tried to reassert authority over the fraught ranks of her Conservative Party on Wednesday, amid growing media reports that momentum was building to oust her.
Truss is trying to shore up support from within the party after she was forced to scrap a vast tax-cutting plan, leading some Conservative lawmakers to call for her to be replaced as leader just weeks after she took office.
She has admitted her radical economic plans went “too far and too fast” after investors dumped the pound and government bonds.
However, with mortgage rates soaring and official figures showing inflation back to a 40-year high, Truss – elected by Conservative members on a promise of tax cuts and maintaining public spending – faces a struggle to convince the public and her party she could address the cost of living crisis.
Opinion polls indicate Conservatives are some 30 points behind the main opposition Labour Party, and her own ratings are calamitous.
“I have been very clear that I am sorry, and I have made mistakes,” Truss told jeering opposition lawmakers as she answered questions in parliament. “I am somebody who’s prepared to front up. I’m prepared to take the tough decisions.”
Speculation about the prime minister’s future continues to grow, with media reporting that rebellious Conservatives are weighing up who should replace her, not if she should go.
As she was quizzed on her economic policy U-turns, Conservative lawmakers in parliament looked noticeably uneasy.
OUT BY CHRISTMAS
“I think her position is becoming increasingly untenable,” Conservative lawmaker Steve Double earlier told Times radio.
“We’ve seen a complete reversal of just about everything she stood for in her leadership election campaign. I think many of us are asking exactly what does Liz Truss now believe and stand for?”
Truss also faced ridicule from Labour leader Keir Starmer, who commented a new book was being written about her time in office which was due to be out by Christmas.
“Is that the release date or the title?” he asked. He later said she was asking him questions about Labour policy because “we’re a government in waiting.”
Truss and her new finance minister, Jeremy Hunt, are desperately trying to balance the books after her now-scrapped economic program shattered investor confidence. They are also trying to avoid alienating Conservative lawmakers or losing further public support.
She told parliament she was committed to
increasing state pensions
in line with the level of inflation, after ministers refused for days to guarantee this would be the case, drawing widespread criticism. But, she declined to give the same reassurance for welfare payments and foreign aid.
She also sought to avert any Conservative opposition to fracking by promising details later on Wednesday of how local communities would be able to
give their consent
to any future projects.
That announcement would coincide with a Labour vote on whether there should an outright ban on fracking, after the government last month lifted a moratorium in England that had been in place since 2019.
Conservative ‘whips’, responsible for enforcing discipline among their lawmakers, have sent a message saying the vote would be treated as a “confidence motion in the government.”
Commentators said winning this vote could allow her and her supporters to say the party had confidence in her leadership. (Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Michael Holden and William James; Editing by Kate Holton and John Stonestreet)
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