After only 28 days, Liz Truss has had the worst possible start – can she win back control? | Politics News
In power for just 28 days – and for 10 of them politics was paused following the death of the Queen – it has been the worst possible start for Liz Truss.
A (mini) budget unveiling £45bn of tax cuts without a fiscal framework, precipitating a £65bn emergency bond buying programme by the Bank of England to protect pension funds.
The pound tanked, 1,000 mortgage deals were withdrawn from the markets in anticipation of an interest rates spike.
And then a prime minister who was not the lady for turning, has announced a huge policy U-turn.
So the question for the new prime minister was really a question of leadership – and judgement.
How bad is it and, crucially, can Liz Truss win back control?
She never had emphatic backing from the parliamentary party anyway – Rishi Sunak was initially their first choice.
Can she reassert authority after only 28 days? Is this already a prime minister in office, but not in power?
A tough set of questions after a brutal couple of weeks, this is a prime minister determined to march on.
Her message: These are difficult times and we are delivering.
She batted away questions and ploughed on with her messages about making tough decisions and delivering the package of energy support for households and businesses.
As for the U-turn, the PM insisted that there was “absolutely no shame” in performing a reversal of her plan to abolish the 45p top rate of tax and she had listened to her party and the public.
A performance that, for her supporters, showed a politician with huge resilience and drive.
A PM clear-eyed about what she has to do for the economy. But for detractors, this is a leader in denial – deluded even – about the challenges she faces, with her party and the public too.
As she ploughs on, there are mutterings all around that she has lost control of her party and this will hamstring her agenda.
The U-turn on the 45p rate, the battleground now moving to the uprating of benefits.
One senior figure joked to me on Monday night that this was a PM with dozens of former cabinet ministers on the backbenches, and agitating.
As one member of the emerging “rebel alliance” put it to me: “The PM doesn’t have a mandate for much of what she wants to do but what she does have is a group of MPs prepared to manage her from without cabinet rather than within.”
So, a prime minister who is not in control of events and a Conservative Party in disarray.
There is no message of discipline from within her cabinet, with different ministers sharing opposing views on lifting benefits by earnings rather than inflation.
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Suella Braverman is taking a shot at the rebels and accusing them of staging a coup over the 45p rate.
As for the leader, Ms Truss has to try to get a grip on her party, and her speech on Wednesday will be a moment for the new PM to try and get some momentum behind her.
But even one of her supporters said the PM has a matter of months to turn this around and close the gap in the polls.
For now, this Conservative government is looking like it will hand the keys to power over to Labour in the next general election.
If it stays that way, Ms Truss’s tumultuous start will only get worse.