New Government U-Turns Put Skid Marks Over Leadership
Jeremy Hunt has replaced Kwasi Kwarteng, who Liz Truss threw under the bus last week for implementing her own policies, as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Truss herself has shown surprising alacrity for disappearing whenever she’s most needed. On Monday, when demanded to appear before MPs, she sent Penny Mordaunt in her stead. And now that Trussonomics has evaporated, she’s apologised for wasting everyone’s time, but not in those words.
With so much going on, perhaps the investigations into misconduct for Kwarteng deliberately crashing the market after tipping off close friends will be forgotten. Not only this, but a lot has happened since the beginning of September when Truss took up office. Now we’ve faced one of the biggest fiscal u-turns in British history as Hunt made his new announcement, apparently still behind the same “economic growth” badge Truss can’t seem to relinquish.
Despite Rishi Sunak predicting the utter turmoil it would have caused during the election campaign, Truss ploughed on with blinkers attached. Almost all of the policies Truss campaigned for and that secured her position as Prime Minister are now gone. She’s managed to secure an untenable position and has now taken up Boris Johnson’s mantle of clinging onto power, despite none of the public voting for her.
In a bid to gain the support of the Sunak supporters amongst her party and to provide harmony to both the Conservatives and the economy, Jeremy Hunt was chosen as the next chancellor. Hunt, however, has taken the reins, shifted on Truss’ unshifting position and effectively taken charge. Some even see this as his audition as the new Prime Minister.
The chancellor has cut back on Liz Truss’ favourite answer to a question not asked: the Energy Price Guarantee. It is now only running until April 2023 with talks about targeted support happening for those who need it thereafter. Reviews will be undertaken and a plan will be in place before that time comes.
Nearly all of the mini-budget has been cancelled following the chancellor’s announcement on Monday. Never has the phrase “in office but not in power” been so fitting, as Hunt has taken leadership from Truss, weeks after losing any authority she had. The Economist went so far as to suggest that Truss had authority for all the shelf life of a lettuce.
Now that someone without their fingers in their ears has taken charge, the pound has started to recover. While economists have said it’s a move in the right direction, it isn’t enough to undo the damage already done in the weeks wasted beforehand.
What’s Been Announced?
Basic rate of income tax will not be reduced next year
No VAT-free shopping for international tourists
Energy Price Guarantee will only last until April now, with further targeted support where needed
Alcohol duty rates will be free for a year from February
Controversial lift of bankers’ bonuses stays
Stamp duty increases stay
Scrapping National Insurance increase stays
Freeze on corporation tax
Keeping the top rate of income tax
Prevaricating politicians have caused enough damage and cling to power regardless of the outcome for as long as they can. While Truss claims to listen, the calls for her to be held democratically accountable by the people she’s meant to be representing are falling on deaf ears.
The petition calling for an immediate general election reached over 632,000 signatures and was debated in parliament on 17th October.