Britain is frustrated by political and economic unrest as Liz Truss steps down
Many commuters on Friday morning appeared to be struggling with the idea that their political landscape is more than they imagined, just over a month after the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Politics aside, they expressed similar concerns for the future.
“We don’t feel like anyone is really taking action,” Barkley said. “And we’re getting into winter, and the bills just keep going up and up and up.”
The surprise resignation of Liz Truss on Thursday, just six weeks into her term, once again opened the race for someone who runs the country through record inflation, recession forecasts and policy issues on immigration, climate change and the war in Ukraine.
“The weather is worrying. They spent the summer going through this campaign of who was going to win, and chaos ensued as soon as she took office,” said Lucy Waller, who works in event planning and has two children. “And now I worry about what the next few days will look like.”
British newspapers condemned Truss’s short time in office. “WORST PM EVER,” screamed one headline.
Others have already moved on from Truss, showing unrest in the Conservative Party and photos of her predecessor Boris Johnson, whose July resignation after the accumulated scandals, it was no less dramatic. Speculation about his return to the helm has now sparked another shock wave.
The left-leaning Mirror plastered the words “GENERAL ELECTION NOW” across its front page – a demand called for by Labor and other opposition politicians.
On his way to get a flu shot, Jeremy Evans, a painter, echoed that sentiment.
“Thank God she’s gone,” he said. “We need general elections. We just feel resentful and really tired of the endless commotion. They don’t let us have a say, it’s kind of unbelievable.”
Under current rules, Britain is due to hold its next general election by January 2025. An older petition for a general election “to end the chaos of the current government” on Friday quickly gathered more votes, with over 700,000 signatures.
Truss took office after being elected by Conservative Party members to replace Johnson, rather than in a contested general election. She will remain in place during a second leadership election, which her party said would be held within days, a much shorter time frame after the last contest lasted about two months.
For Waller, the event planner, “everything seemed to gradually get worse and worse and worse” in recent months as the conflict distracted the country’s politicians.
“Food costs are going up, wages are not going up,” she said. “I’m trying to move, and what would have been quite affordable even six months ago is now really unaffordable.”
Some were more optimistic, like David Ogbechie, a consultant who hoped Truss’ departure would spark a financial recovery.
Truss worked hard to quickly turn around its growth vision dismissed her finance minister after a policy that included tax cuts for high earners and corporations ended up scaring markets and sinking the pound.
“Maybe things will start to improve after their erratic leadership,” Ogbechie said. “You can’t really do much worse in a short period of time. They’ve already kind of helped bring the UK down, so the only way is to get up.”
Michelle Bree, the chef, was less critical and hoped that the bid for a new leader would not be delayed. “I think there was too much pressure on her,” she said.
But the British media were not sympathetic. Late on Thursday, the BBC’s popular “Newsnight” program aired a recap of Truss’ tenure in just under two minutes, set to Rihanna’s “Take a Bow”.
The montage’s background music included lyrics like “you look so stupid right now” and “now it’s time to go, the curtain is finally closing.”
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