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Liz Truss can be characterized in any way, except as a bright rising star in the political sky or as the political reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher – although the newly minted British Prime Minister often unacknowledgedly styled herself in the role of “Iron Lady” during the two months of the intra-party campaign.
During her time as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she did not show off any dizzying international success. Although she has been taking an uncompromising stance towards Moscow since the February invasion, she is far from alone in this in today’s Europe. At a time of rapidly rising energy prices on international markets – and also the unresolved Northern Ireland Protocol, due to which relations with the UK’s largest trading partner, the EU, remain strained – she did not come up with an idea, she did not make any pioneering move. At home, she sailed with the dominant Brexit current. And that is probably why she received only 50 out of a total of 358 votes in the first round of voting among Conservative Party MPs. The fact that she does not enjoy enthusiastic support among “her own” in Westminster will probably complicate her life from the very beginning.
She became prime minister because she remained loyal to Boris Johnson even as many cabinet members, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, turned away from him over his scandalous Government House parties during the lockdown. In the end, Trussová fought a duel with him for the prime minister’s chair. It was an internal party fight, as the rank-and-file members of the conservatives decided in a vote about the new party and therefore government leader. And it turned out that loyalty to Johnson, and therefore his covid hypocrisy, is more valued among the party than the principle shown by Sunak. It says a lot about the current atmosphere inside the party, which has always sworn by the principle that the law must apply to everyone without exception.
But back to Liz Truss. In short, she became a rather accidental heroine in a complicated political situation.
However, he masks it with powerful words. When asked if French President Emmanuel Macron was a friend of Britain, she replied that “time will tell” instead of saying yes, despite all the differences of opinion and politics. It was stupid and embarrassing on her part, but no doubt it pleased the populist, destructively smug section of the British Tories.
Truss is taking over the island country at a time when the effects of Brexit and the pandemic slowdown, as well as the war in Ukraine, are fully felt. Inflation exceeded ten percent. In the fall, someone is going on strike. And ordinary Brits just stare at the sight of huge pressures on their family budgets. According to experts, the monthly electricity bill in October will already be three times higher than what the average household had to pay at the same time a year ago. Or there’s the finding that waiting times for non-urgent surgeries, such as hip replacements, have increased from four to six years since before the pandemic. And let’s not forget rampant Scottish separatism. There is a lot on the plate that will have to be bitten into.
Although the new prime minister is pulling a classic conservative panacea, she wants to cut taxes. However, he is also going to put a ceiling on energy prices, and when it comes to specific program items, he only promises that he will add more to everyone. In this, despite her above-mentioned efforts, she immediately began to distance herself from Thatcher.
Tereza Ulrychová’s analysis:
In the end, we in the Czech Republic don’t even have to be so interested in internal British problems when the country is no longer in the European Union. But it is different with the Northern Ireland Protocol, the provision that the movement of goods between Britain and Ireland, a member of the EU, is subject to customs controls already at ports in Northern Ireland, instead of at the land border itself. The reason for the protocol is an effort to preserve peace, since since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the land border will be permeable roughly like the internal Schengen border. As everyone suspects, introducing controls at that border could simply lead to a rekindling of violence. But the controls of goods at sea and in ports are not to the taste of British nationalists. It shatters their idea of a complete connection between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. For example, the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland now refuses to participate in the government there because of the protocol.
In short, Truss is under enormous pressure to terminate the protocol, or to unilaterally adopt legislation that effectively tramples it. But if he does so, he will probably receive an answer in the form of the termination of the entire post-Brexit trade agreement by the EU. It would hurt both sides, but Britain more. Truss’s entry into history will be decided by how she resolves this.
But it will also be fun to see if Boris Johnson returns to writing commentaries and columns. And if so, if he will maintain the same loyalty to Truss as she does to him. Or to put it without napkins: Johnson, with his clownish, charlatan nature, would probably have a hard time resisting the temptation to gradually start hitting Truss with scathing remarks – although now, of course, he called on the party to rally behind the prime minister. An unpleasant prospect for a random heroine.