Liz Truss Already On the Way Out?

The Brits may soon have yet another Conservative PM.

FT (“‘We’ve messed this up’: Tories plan for life after Liz Truss“):

Tory MPs and ministers will be carefully watching the reaction of markets when they open on Monday following Truss’s decision to appoint Jeremy Hunt as chancellor and scrap her planned rise in corporation tax.

Hunt, who replaced Kwasi Kwarteng, is expected to go further and drop a 1p cut in the basic rate of income tax, another key plank of last month’s “mini” Budget, in a bid to calm markets and restore stability.

If the pound and gilt yields stabilise, senior members of the government said this would buy the prime minister time until October 31, when the chancellor had planned to publish his medium-term fiscal plan: he has since brought forward the announcement of key details to Monday. But few are in doubt that Truss’s reputation and authority have been shot.

One veteran Tory party official said Truss may survive for weeks due to the lack of an obvious successor. “I give her longer than most others because there is no viable alternative,” they said.

But a senior Whitehall official suggested that Truss had as little as two weeks left in Downing Street. “That will give the leadership contenders time to sort themselves out and figure out how to remove her without too much disruption,” the person said.

Another civil servant said: “There is an awful lot of uncertainty.”

I have no dog in this fight but it’s not like Truss inherited a stable situation and screwed it up. Boris Johnson was an absolute circus and she’s had . . . checks notes . . . 42 days to right the ship?

It seems to me that the Tories have just about run it aground. They’ve been in power a remarkable 12-plus years, going back to David Cameron’s turn at 10 Downing from 11 May 2010 to 13 July 2016.

He allowed populist sentiment to force him to stage a referendum for Brexit, which he then campaigned against, failing to persuade the public that it would be a disaster. When he rightly resigned his post in the wake of that vote, he turned it over to Theresa May, who proceeded to try to give the public what they wanted and to give it to them good and hard. After three years and twelve days, she’d failed to get a Brexit plan through Parliament and resigned, turning it over to Johnson–who managed to push through the worst possible form, lasting roughly a month longer than May before being ousted.

It’s probably time for Truss to have King Charles call for new elections. It seems her party has run out of ideas and they’ve certainly run out of mandate.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. JohnSF says:

    …it’s not like Truss inherited a stable situation and screwed it up. Boris Johnson was an absolute circus…

    Johnson was booted because of his personal mendacity and indulgence of serious misbehaviour in others, as well as himself.

    But, despite all the other problems with Brexit, and the impact of Covid and energy price surges, the basic national fiscal position was regarded by the bond markets as sustainable.
    The ship had navigation issues, and was a bit leaky, but not in imminent risk of capsizing.
    Truss dialled full steam ahead and rammed it head on into an iceberg.

    A cosplay of Reaganism but minus the reserve dollar, Thatcherism but absent North Sea Oil coming onstream and the European single market.
    It was the crazed apotheosis of the ERG/Tufton “liberToryian Brexit” agenda.

    As for elections: Truss should call them, but will she?
    And could the Conservative MP’s forestall her?

    I’m not sure, suspect convention is arguable, but I think there’s a constitutional argument that if a Party has a majority, but the PM has lost intra-party support, the monarch is not obligated to call an election if it is clear the majority party can govern under a new leader.

    In practice, I can’t see Truss going freelance on this; it would have to be a general view of Con MP’s.
    And will that bunch of turkeys vote for Christmas?

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  2. steve says:

    Just watching from afar she certainly doesn’t seem ready to lead. Maybe a good “ideas” person and does well in small groups but is not performing well while actually in charge. Also seems very awkward in public (maybe I am only seeing the worst clips) so she cant effectively fall back on her public performances, the bully pulpit as it were.

    Steve

    1
  3. SKI says:

    It’s probably time for Truss to have King Charles call for new elections. It seems her party has run out of ideas and they’ve certainly run out of mandate.

    Except the Tories won’t want to give up power – and they would very likely lose power if they called for new elections.
    ____
    @JohnSF:

    Johnson was booted because of his personal mendacity and indulgence of serious misbehaviour in others, as well as himself.

    And Truss is being booted for proposing to govern in accordance with “True Tory” principles. Look back a few weeks and see the commentary from the Daily Mail and conservative talking heads lauding the mini-budget.

    1
  4. JohnSF says:

    @SKI:
    @steve:
    Oh, yes, a key part of media echo chamber was on side: Mail/Express/Telegraph.
    Though interestingly the Murdoch papers (Times, Sun) seemed ambivalent or more for Sunak.
    And she only won the membership by 57%; and never had a lead in MP votes; she came close to not getting to the membership stage at all.

    Most of those who looked clearly at her could see she wasn’t up to the job.
    Intellectually both shallow and dogmatic, unreflective, convinced of her own correctness and talents, hopeless communicator, not good at managing a team of peers, unable to think on her feet, opportunistically ambitious without the ability to back it up.

    She was effective enough as a junior minister, but out of her depth as a departmental head, let alone PM.

    Question re. elections timing will be some Conservative thinking: polls are bad now; but they could get even worse. For their own sakes they might be better getting out of the path of the oncoming storm.
    And some also are despairing enough to think the best thing for the party is to go now.
    And some share the opinion of Charles Walker MP:

    “We are a patriotic party. That’s our first duty — to the country. Our first duty is not to get re-elected, our first duty is to the country ..”

    A bit old school, but there are still some traditionalist “One Nation” Conservatives in Parliament, despite everything.

    Personal prediction: Truss gone in a week to fortnight, Sunak PM, Mordaunt FS, Hunt CX; election next year.
    (So, given my form, bet on Truss staying till 2025, LOL)

    2
  5. JohnSF says:

    edit test

  6. JohnSF says:

    Reviewing Hun’s speech, and Truss now ducking attending commons to face Labour “Urgent Question” motion, conclusion is that Truss is now PM in name only.
    Jeremy Hunt is now effectively Prime Minister pro tem in all but formal title.
    Next sign will be if he organises the inevitable Cabinet changes, who (or which faction) gets brought in, who gets booted.

    1
  7. Kathy says:

    The best argument for an election right now, is that the Tories seem unable to pick a PM rather than the caricature of one.

    1
  8. grumpy realist says:

    There’s quite a discussion over at TurbulentTimes right now as to how this will play out. The consensus is that the Tories are screwed no matter what they do–but that doesn’t mean that they will exit from the stage gracefully.

    The suggestion that drew the most “what are these guys smoking?!” catcalls was that of bringing Boris Johnson back as PM.

    1
  9. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The suggestion that drew the most “what are these guys smoking?!” catcalls was that of bringing Boris Johnson back as PM.

    Still a sizable faction for that in the party; I suspect if he got to a membership vote, he could well win it.
    (You need to factor in that the North’s and associates, and likely a lot of TT regulars, are long standing Brexiteers by conviction, and thus deeply suspicious of Johnson.)

  10. gVOR08 says:

    It seems to me that the Tories have just about run it aground. They’ve been in power a remarkable 12-plus years

    Yes, they ran the ship aground and polling says they’re being held accountable by the voters. I can’t help but contrast that with our situation in which Ds have nominally been more or less in power half the time, but are blocked from exercising power by divided government, the filibuster, the Supremes, and GOP intransigence generally. Then GOPs successfully blame Ds for the resulting dysfunction and Biden’s poll numbers suffer. A parliamentary system does seem to provide better accountability. Any way we could get one of them?

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  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @gVOR08:

    It bears repeating, our system is not representative of the people and beyond that there is no accountability built into the system.

  12. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Also, North’s old sparring partner Roland Smith:

    Dear Brexiters, former colleagues,
    You’ve totally f*cked it.
    Just as I warned you.
    Yours etc.

    Also “Captain Haddock”:

    To avoid exactly this sort of calamitous head on collision with reality was why I voted Remain in 2016.
    It wasn’t for love of Guy Verhofstadt.
    It was obvious to anyone with half a brain that Vote Leave’s farrago of lies, arrogance, fantasies and good old xenophobia was going to lead to disaster if they won.

    And what are the public thinking?
    An indication, from Redfield and Wilton:

    Labour leads by 36%.
    Largest lead for ANY party with ANY polling company since October 1997.
    Westminster VI (16 Oct.):
    Labour 56% (+3)
    Conservative 20% (-4)
    Lib Dems 11% (-2)
    Green 5% (+2)
    SNP 4% (–)
    Reform UK 2% (–)
    Other 1% (-2)
    Changes +/- 13 Oct.

    I think combined Lab/Lib/Grn at over 70% vs Conservatives has never happened before.

    Summed up neatly by Kate Bevan:

    holy fuckballs
    *drops popcorn all over the floor*

  13. Mu Yixiao says:

    @JohnSF:

    Labour leads by 36%.

    Wow. It took me several seconds to see that it say by, not with.

    2
  14. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Short summary of the Conservative Party’s prospects at a General Election: they’re gonna be hammered into the ground like tent-pegs.

  15. Mu Yixiao says:

    @JohnSF:

    Is this the reason Mock the Week is cancelled? They’ll have nobody left to make fun of? 😀

  16. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Dmitry Grozoubinski:

    Russian intelligence can’t unduly influence a UK Prime Minister if they can’t work out who it is.
    Check and mate, Putin.

    5
  17. grumpy realist says:

    @JohnSF: Yeah, TT has been getting infested with quite a few people pushing a pro-Putin line as well…

    And Pete North seems to have turned into an even more crankier individual than his dad. I usually bleep over any articles of his; his father remains closer to the edge of reality and Dr. North’s in-depth analysis is often irreplaceable.

    What was really funny was Pete’s absolute despairing article many years ago when he realised that how Brexit was going to be carried out in reality was going to be a total disaster as opposed to the golden-havens-with-unicorns he was hoping it would be. I wanted to bonk him on the top of his head with something labeled “clue bat” and yell: “well, what did you think was going to happen, you silly idiot?!”

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08:

    We basically don’t have a national immigration plan

    Why? Are you hoping for Texit?

    1
  19. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: That was Just Another Ex-Republican in the immigration thread.

    Texit? Hmm. I lived in TX for a couple years. Fun times, but I’ve thought since that if Mexico wants it back, they should have it.

    1
  20. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    You might consider doing a search of Roland’s twitter line for the North’s, if you have an idle moment and nothing better to do.
    Somewhat less than complimentary, to put it mildly.
    He used to be a colleague of theirs, parted ways when the referendum campaign began IIRC.

    Another interesting thing is how much R. North and Dominic Cummings despise each other, despite their mutual dislike for Johnson. LOL.

    Cats in a sack. 🙂

  21. JohnSF says:

    @JohnSF:
    Incidentally, the “cats in sack” relates to the North’s and to Cummings.
    Smith is a lot more sensible than either.

  22. Kathy says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the collective feeling in the Conservative party is “Will no one deliver us from ourselves? Labour need not apply.”