Liz Truss' record-setting short time in office showed that the UK cannot do whatever it pleases — even now that it's left the EU.
PARIS — The “next Margaret Thatcher” didn't stay in office very long. And in view of her radical project and personality, this is clearly no surprise — she actually had very little in common with the Iron Lady.
Liz Truss remained in 10 Downing Street for exactly 45 days, the shortest stint ever for a British prime minister. But this was already enough time to prove just how empty her economic program was.
But beyond the chaos that took place, her fall also indicates how quickly the illusion of Brexit is fading away. Before the referendum that took place in 2016, Boris Johnson promised his electors that they would be living in a country freed from its European chains — a country that would be emancipated, through deregulation, massive reduction in taxes, and finding new agreements with the rest of the world.
"Global Britain" or "Singapore-on-Thames"
Once in office, he had to find an agreement with … Brussels. And then started to question it. His “Global Britain” strategy also showed no real results. Admittedly, it’s also true that the pandemic and the global economic crisis that followed didn’t help things along.
And then, Liz Truss and her chosen Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, worked to put the “Singapore-on-Thames” project back in the spotlight.
One cannot do whatever one wants.
But the program was incredibly expensive and even the financial markets of the City rejected it. And for good reason: Singapore doesn’t have to deal with a budget deficit. And “Trussonomics” set off a veritable financial panic.
The Bank of England, investors and Parliament all reminded us of a few simple rules: One cannot do whatever one wants, even after exiting the EU. Actually, especially after leaving the EU.
The economic decline of the UK has started, and it will be hard to reverse, as inflation reaches 10%. With a prospect of recession, and high interest rates, both households and companies will be affected.
Oct. 21 front page of The Guardian. Check Worldcrunch's collection of international front pages marking Liz Truss's resignation here.
Five prime ministers within six years
Yet Brexit’s failure is even more brutally evident on a political scale. The Conservative Party has lost its compass and its credibility. It has descended into a jungle of treasons and score-settling. And we are now waiting for the nomination of a new prime minister — the fifth in six years.
Scottish are more and more attracted by independence, and Northern Islanders have an eye on Dublin’s stability: The UK is cracking. And the European Union has other things to worry about than providing support on all these matters.
The severity of this crisis has one upside: It’s shown that “the mother of parliaments” still has strong safety mechanisms in place — even if the future looks grim.