Liz Truss: “I am a fighter, not a person who gives up” | International
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The weakness of Liz Truss’s mandate is already so extreme that any public intervention by the prime minister becomes a new acid test for her continuity in Downing Street. This Wednesday’s control session in the House of Commons was a key moment, with an opposition party convinced that it is already close to power, and some conservative deputies more focused on finding a way to get rid of their leader than in supporting her from their benches. “I am a fighter, not a person who gives up”, Truss has repeated, in an intervention that was conscientiously prepared, to try to convince her followers that she still has energy and resources to hold on to the position.
“I have already been very clear in saying that I am very sorry for all the mistakes I have made. I think the right thing to do, under the circumstances, was to make changes, and I did. Now we must continue with the task and fulfill the commitments we have with the citizens”, affirmed the prime minister, who no longer has any qualms about repeating “sorry” every time she has a microphone in front of her.
The Labor leader, Keir Starmer, not usually given to jokes, has not hesitated to attack Truss from all possible flanks. “A book is already being written about the prime minister’s tenure. Apparently, she is going to go out at Christmas, right? ”, He has ironized with the date that many conservative deputies suggest as the maximum term that Truss will remain in Downing Street.
However, the final feeling of many of the Tories, who feared another disastrous Truss intervention, has been somewhat relieved. Not only because of her defiant attitude towards the opposition, but because of the signal expressed by the prime minister that the course of her policy was clearly changing.
This Wednesday, the inflation data in the United Kingdom reached 10.1%, the worst in the last 40 years. The new Economy Minister, Jeremy Hunt, has not wanted to commit until now to ensure that the Government would respect the so-called “triple lock” of pensions, a guarantee mechanism approved in 2010 by which public pensions would always rise at the rate of the inflation —at a time when it was not the current alarming problem—, to that of the average national salary, or at least 2.5%, always choosing the highest of the three. “We already made it very clear in the 2019 electoral program that we would keep the triple lock. I am committed to it, as is the Minister of the Economy”, said Truss, causing a sigh of relief from many. Tories. In other words, Truss finally assumed -something that his new minister had not done- that pensions would rise at the rate of inflation. He still does not commit to linking the increase in benefits and social aid with that index – a budget item much larger than pensions -, as relevant personalities of his party have demanded.
Truss has managed to overcome a key moment of the week – the control session – but is still on the tightrope, without clear support among the conservatives.
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55% of the party’s bases, according to an express survey carried out by YouGov among more than 500 members, want Truss to resign. More drastic is that, among those who voted for her – some 81,000 militants out of a total of some 160,000 affiliates – there are already 39% who also want her to throw in the towel.
The 1922 committee
Truss will also meet this Wednesday with Graham Brady, the president of the 1922 Committee, which is the body that brings together the backbenchers (literally, the deputies of the rear benches). They are the majority of parliamentarians, and those who do not hold any position in the government echelons. And they are, therefore, the freest to rebel against a leader who does not convince them. The statutes of the Conservative Party give Brady the organization of both an internal vote of no confidence against the prime minister —in the event, obviously, that it is tory—, as of a new primary process.
Internal regulations impose two conditions. It is necessary that 15% of the deputies – today there would be 53 – send Brady a “letter of withdrawal of confidence” in the leader so that the motion of censure and the impeachment process can be activated. And it is forbidden to start the process before at least a year has passed since the election of the new prime minister. In the case of Truss, until September 2023. But the rules are dead paper, and they can be changed – it has already been done several times – if the majority is overwhelming. Only Brady knows how many letters are already in his office drawer, and he uses that figure as a measure of pressure and negotiation. At the moment, nothing suggests that the rules of the game will change.
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