The Tories have lost sight of what matters most: serving the country while providing stability and solution to people's despairs. Britain deserves better.
When Liz Truss took the podium at 10 Downing Street to announce her resignation last Thursday, the soon-to-be vacancy had already been the island's worst-kept secret in politics. Rumours about her political demise had been circulating inside and beyond the Westminster bubble for days, and seldom were grapevine chatter that accurate.
From "growth, growth, growth ", as Truss pontificated during the party's conference in Birmingham at the end of September, to shortest serving Prime Minister in history. Forty-four days, to be precise. One has to go back 200 years for the previous record holder George Canning, who lasted 119 days. However, Canning's demise was due to poor health. Truss's was self-made.
Experts had warned her not to implement her vision of trickle down economics in the current challenging economic situation as soon as she introduced the idea. She did not listen, causing turmoil in the markets via her "mini-budget ", a historic low of the Pound and an increase in mortgage payments for millions of Britons.
By the time she realised that neither the markets nor the people would accept her plan, she sacked her Exchequer Chancellor and replaced him with Jeremy Hunt, but it was already too late. Things became even more ominous for Truss when Hunt nullified almost all of her plans, including the promise to cap energy bills for a two-year period. At this point, Truss's goodbye was no longer a matter of if but when.
During one of the country's worst crises since World War II, Truss leaves office without a plan and leadership.
"After 12 years of failed Tory politics, the British people deserve better than this mess," Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said after Truss' resignation. Naturally, Starmer - like all other opposition parties - has called for new elections.
The logic behind this is apparent: Labour are far ahead of the Tories in polls and would very likely win an election right now.
Accordingly, the Tories have nipped any speculation about new elections in the bud and were quick to announce that a successor to Truss would be found this week.
After Boris Johnson – whose temporary potential return describes the political mess in Britain quite remarkably – stated on Sunday that he would not seek to return to leadership, Rishi Sunak has become the odds-on favourite. The latter lost to Truss in the previous leadership race during the summer.
However, Sunak will find himself in an ungrateful position right away.
For one, he simply does not have a mandate from the people. With her modern-day version of Thatcherism, Truss had already strayed far away from the program that allowed for Johnson and his landslide victory in 2019, even though no one ever voted for it.
Handing Johnson's mandate to her was only somewhat acceptable as a recent precedent existed in Tony Blair handing over the office to Gordon Brown. But to hand over a, at best, shaky mandate twice within two months will severely impair Sunak's legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
In the worst case, it simply will not accept Sunak, with mass demonstrations and even more political instability potentially being the result.
Moreover, Sunak was largely responsible for triggering the government crisis in the first place when he not only resigned as Johnson's Chancellor of the Exchequer but maligned his superior on his way out of the door ("the public rightly expect the government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously").
To Sunak's dismay, Johnson continues to command a significant amount of supporters amongst the MPs who have not forgotten Sunak's conduct. To move any legislation forward, Sunak needs to close ranks, which seems – in a best case scenario -like a tall order at the moment.
But the alternative, elections, to, ideally, obtain a new mandate for himself, are simply not an option from his point of view. With the Tories trailing Labour in every poll by wide margins, they are now forced to conduct the transition from Truss to Sunak, thereby not serving the best interests of the country but merely seeking to remain in power - a foundation that does not promise the turnaround the country currently requires.
Moreover, the past few days have shown that no one has learned from the current chaos. Names and flamboyant personalities, not political qualities, have dominated the public discourse – a model that has evidentially failed. Whether it was Johnson, Truss or Jeremy Corbyn, while all three managed to either inspire a loyal following or seemingly provide straightforward answers to complex issues, all three failed in the end, leaving their parties in worse shape than they found them.
But Britain needs a doer who is calm and pragmatic in his craft, reliable and capable of providing stability. Can Sunak be this person for the Tories and the country? Perhaps. However, his path is already paved with severe encumbrances amidst a time that does not allow for navigating through these but demands immediate solutions, a way out of the current chaos, right away.
With that being the case, it seems unlikely that Britain will come to rest anytime soon. And with the winter around the corner, the real issues have not even begun.
Elections are undoubtedly in the country’s and arguably even in the Tory’s best interest. A Labour government under Starmer could provide the much-needed stability while the Conservative party could use the time to bridge internal gaps of understanding and trust, reinvent itself and once again become a responsible, reliable actor in government.
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