Britain’s Liz Truss was fighting to save her job as prime minister on Tuesday after market turmoil over her tax cut plans forced a series of humiliating U-turns that put her job at risk.
The beleaguered leader – just six weeks into his tenure – met senior ministers for their weekly cabinet the day after new Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced that almost all of her debt-fueled tax cuts would be reversed.
Hunt, who replaced her sacked ally Kwasi Kwarteng last Friday, urged ministers to “think about saving taxpayers’ money” before detailing the government’s revised medium-term financial plans on Halloween.
But even Conservative MPs are publicly joining opposition lawmakers in declaring her stance intolerable, and the 47-year-old’s credibility appears to be undermining.
The pollster also found she was the most unpopular leader ever tracked, with a net approval rating of -70.
– Cost reduction –
The Trust has already made two embarrassing U-turns, reversing tax cuts for the wealthiest earners and corporate profits, before firing a close friend of Kvarteng.
He estimated all the changes would bring in about 32 billion pounds ($36 billion) a year after economists estimated the government was facing a 60 billion pound black hole. Hunt also warned of tough spending cuts.
The International Monetary Fund said in a statement on Tuesday that the UK government’s latest announcements “signal a commitment to fiscal discipline” and help align policies to fight inflation.
In an interview with the BBC on Monday, Truss tried to draw a line under the crisis, which was largely self-inflicted, but she insisted she would remain in her post.
She is set to return to the House of Commons on Wednesday for a Prime Minister’s Questions session, seen as a crucial, perhaps last, chance to reassert her power.
After the speech on Monday, the Sun tabloid called Truss a “ghost prime minister” and the left-wing tabloid The Mirror called the situation a “disastrous humiliation”.
“It is hard to imagine a more serious political and economic crisis in recent times than the one Britain is currently facing,” the editorial said.
Under current party rules, she cannot be challenged domestically through a vote of no confidence in her first year, but there is speculation that these could be changed to allow a vote.
“I think her position is intolerable,” Conservative MP Charles Walker told Sky News.
“Given how buoyant our politics are… I don’t think there’s room for any more mistakes,” he told Sky News.