Russell Macias | Staff Writer
Oct. 27, 2022
Forty-five days. That’s how long ex-British Prime Minister Liz Truss served in office before resigning Oct. 20. It’s a laughably short term, the shortest ever for Great Britain, with the next closest being a prime minister named George Canning, who died in office in 1827.
How could this possibly happen? It’s one of the unusual political occurrences in recent memory.
Truss was the third-ever female prime minister, behind Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. She entered into office in a time of great chaos, where Boris Johnson’s tumultuous reign had just ended, and during an ongoing energy crisis. Truss’ actions were perplexing and bewildering at best, and downright catastrophic at worst.
In her third week in office, she unveiled her great economic solution. She enacted £45 billion in tax cuts. And so, the markets immediately stumbled and collapsed, the British Pound plummeted and Truss fired her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, in a dizzying reversal of actions and statements. The two had been close allies for over a decade, and it was seen as Truss just trying to save face. Additionally, the entire policy was essentially overhauled.
Soon after, dozens of members of Parliament and members of her own party demanded her to step down amidst fiery criticism. The first prime minister to serve under two monarchs since George VI died in 1952 resigned less than two months into her tenure.
Replacing her is Rishi Sunak, but to say only that would be a farce. Immediately following her resignation, a stunning push from within the Conservative Party began. Public support was being put forth by dozens of members of Parliament for ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had exited in disgrace just six weeks prior. Stunningly, it seemed as if Johnson had become the favorite.
After leaving office, Johnson went to the United States to give a speech for north of £100 thousand, and additionally was on vacation in the Caribbean. As a couple days wore on, more and more members of Parliament called for the return of a man who threw huge private parties at 10 Downing while the rest of the United Kingdom was in lockdown for Christmas during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sanity prevailed, but only because Johnson took his name out of consideration.
The Conservative Party held a leadership contest, and Sunak emerged victorious. Sunak is the first Asian-British prime minister, and is the youngest prime minister in over 200 years. Sunak, 42, immediately said the economic crisis is his main focus. Truss, in her 45 days, had unbanned fracking. Sunak immediately reinstated the ban.
Despite that, he voted against a Labour motion to ban the entire practice outright, so who knows where he truly stands as he continues to flip flop his beliefs?
What simply can’t be overstated enough is the fact that Britain badly needs a general election, yet there won’t be one forthcoming. It’s the United Kingdom’s fourth prime minister in five years, a shocking number that shows the hectic turnover there.
Additionally, the support that was shown toward Johnson, a man whose reign can be best summarized as one filled with turmoil and one that showed him as an incompetent leader, is alarming.
Britain is a very fractured country at present, and the idea of continued conservative leadership is unlikely to make it any better. While Sunak is less extreme than Truss, he is still going to prefer businesses over people, and isn’t going to fight to make the energy crisis go away.
Britain is slowly becoming nothing more than a laughing stock to the rest of the world. There was a popular livestream on YouTube set up by the Daily Star, a British tabloid, that was titled “Can this lettuce outlast Liz Truss?” It amassed tens of thousands of likes over the matter of just hours. Six days after the video was published is when Truss resigned.
The unpopularity and utter dismal treatment of citizens and their opinions is something that Americans can uniquely relate to with the state of politics here.
With the Nov. 8 election just two weeks away, we can all afford to take a lesson from our ally across the Atlantic Ocean. That lesson is to not elect a party that has shown time and time again that they will dismiss the concerns of their citizens.