From Elizabeth II to “Liz” Truss: the United Kingdom, from one Elizabeth to another

One comes, the other leaves. The British Conservative Party crowned Elizabeth “Liz” Truss as British Prime Minister two days before the other Elizabeth died. Changes in the country’s title have given rise to a period of uncertainty in the United Kingdom.

“England has returned to the days of Queen Victoria, with its misery and its beggars,” describes Richard Allen. He came to get, his face pale, a meal in a soup kitchen in the town of Thetford, the constituency capital of Liz Truss. The native of the area said he has lost “3 stone”, about 20 kilos, since his dismissal last December.

The last time Richard Allen voted was for Margaret Thatcher. “I can’t make that mistake again. I haven’t voted since. And Truss? He shrugged. “It’s not like he’s in control. »

We are a long way from London here, like many other English countrysides. The cost of living has exploded and the policies of Westminster have not changed much. All cost about 10% more than last year in the UK, according to September data from the Office for National Statistics.

“I pay about £700 a month for electricity. A few months ago, I was paying the same three months, calculated the community kitchen manager, the bubbly Sharon Thompson. Shops that offer help does not give as much as before. And those who ask for help are always more. […] More and more foreigners are staying with us and sleeping in tents. »

It is in this difficult context that Liz Truss took the reins of the United Kingdom on September 6. She won this post after the resignation of Boris Johnson, trapped in scandals, and at the end of a race for the nomination in which the only members of the Conservative Party are entitled to view.

A leading party spokesman said the choice was not unanimous. He agreed to speak on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “His leadership campaign is slowly gaining momentum to allow him to be considered a serious contender. Frankly, the last two in the race – MME Truss and M. [Rishi] Sunak — not at all the first choice for many members. They both hold senior positions in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, so some skepticism is evident. »

Fears of winter

To cool the discontent and heat English cottages, Liz Truss’s first maneuver is to set the electricity bill at £2,500 per year for the next two winters. “What is controversial is that it will subsidize energy companies [à hauteur de 40 milliards de livres]. The option proposed by the Labor Party [l’opposition officielle]is to introduce a series of windfall taxes to pay for it,” said in an interview with To be necessary the head of the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London, Andrew Blick.

Despite this emergency help, the average Englishman will be cold this winter.

“For many people, it will not change much. They will pay more for food. The rent will also increase, but not the salary. They will have to choose “, observes Andy Bull, crossing the soup kitchen in MME Thompson. As proof, another man entered the community room and asked for a hot meal. “It’s better hot, because I don’t have electricity to cook,” he said.

Sharon Thompson prefers not to answer when asked how she spends the winter when it is cruel. His head bowed, he returned to his stove to fill the plates for the poor people waiting in line.

The real Liz Truss

The Truss style contrasts with the flamboyant one of its predecessor. Publicly, the 47-year-old politician has been getting a lot of flak so far. A quote from a speech often comes back to haunt him. “We grow wheat more productively than the prairies of Canada. We make more types of cheese than the French. And we sell tea in China”, he launched a few years ago in front of an audience of conservatives member who is amazed at these lame comparisons.

But the deals behind the scenes that put him on the podium in English politics, observed a Conservative Party aide on condition of anonymity. “In a previous life, he was a Liberal Democrat, our third national party. He talked about being a Republican and supported policies that were not of the Conservative Party, then or now. I’m not sure when or why she changed her allegiance, but it left a lot of people confused as to who the real M is.ME Truss. He seems to be supporting what he thinks is a political savvy to get votes. »

Liz Truss’ move to the role of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs still gives her the allure of a woman capable of holding her country’s helm in stormy international waters. An ardent defender of Ukraine, he also blocked access to the English parliament by the Chinese ambassador over the genocide of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Thatcher 2.0?

Many may be tempted to compare him to Margaret Thatcher, the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Both began their terms during times of extreme inflation. Both came out as Eurosceptics. Both were brought to power by the right wing of their party. When a BBC reporter asked Liz Truss if she could name an economist who supported her policies, she replied “Patrick Minford”, the same answer Thatcher gave more than 40 years ago .

The comparison between the two women ends there, according to Professor Blick. “Thatcher was strict, stubborn in her beliefs. Truss is more flexible, because he can override his own decisions. »

So the latter has a lot to do to build its governance in the first real test, the general election, scheduled for 2024 at the latest. Mr. to reverse the trend in the polls that, so far, has it losing.

“I’m just not convinced that he has the personality necessary to win over voters in sufficient numbers”, agreed for his part a conservative collaborator.

The week of mourning that the United Kingdom is going through has suspended all parliamentary debate. The recovery promises badly for those who, unlike the king, govern but do not reign.

This report was funded thanks to the support of the Transat International Journalism Fund.The duty.

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