UK: Truss faces maiden Tory conference as leader


British Prime Minister Liz Truss has been in office for less than a month and is already facing a severe financial problem that has some Conservatives feeling mutinous as the party’s annual convention approaches.

Following his stunning announcement of debt-fueled tax cuts on September 23, Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng is scheduled to address the four-day conference on Monday.

Truss then brings it to a close with the leader’s Wednesday keynote address.

Her team will be hoping for a better performance than the odd outburst she delivered at the 2014 Tory conference in support of British food, which put markets and voters on edge.

After Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8 — only two days after electing Truss to succeed Boris Johnson as her 15th prime minister — the party was obliged to make a last-minute change to this year’s schedule.

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The opposition Labour party’s annual conference, which was remarkably devoid of intramural conflict, ended with a self-assured declaration that it was prepared for power. The Conservatives meet in Birmingham shortly after that.

Keir Starmer, the leader of Labour, compared the acrimony surrounding what is being referred to in the media as the “KamiKwasi” budget to the sense of national unity brought about by the queen’s passing.

Top-to-bottom tax cuts proposed by the administration, paid for by a borrowing binge, have alarmed financial markets, enraged the International Monetary Fund, and raised concerns with the Bank.

Most immediately for UK voters, it is driving up costs including for home mortgages, as market interest rates surge in the middle of the worst cost-of-living crisis in generations.

Truss and Kwarteng are putting into practise free-market theories that have long been regarded as extremes in the discussion of policy among right-wing research tanks, even at fringe conferences for the Tories.

After charges that Johnson failed to take advantage of the potential “freedoms” of Brexit, they claim they are pushing through regulatory reforms made simpler by Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Truss is currently the frontrunner and is also against turning.

She broke her days-long quiet on Thursday to declare that the course was determined after the pound fell to historic lows versus the dollar and the BoE was compelled to launch an emergency intervention to support vulnerable pension funds.

She said on BBC radio, “And of course, that involves making contentious and tough decisions, but I’m prepared to do that as prime minister.

(With inputs from agencies)


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