Weakened, Liz Truss assumes her tax reversal

British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Tuesday assumed her about-face on a tax cut for the richest, a reversal which has weakened her at a time when other subjects of tension are rising within her own camp.

• Read also: Despite turmoil, UK finance minister stays the course on tax cuts

In power for barely a month, the 47-year-old conservative leader, who succeeded Boris Johnson, is having a turbulent start at her party’s congress, which is being held until Wednesday in Birmingham (central England).

Two years away from the next elections, where the Labor opposition is largely the winner according to the polls, the Prime Minister has constantly defended her “responsible” approach, while the “mini-budget” presented on September 23 has aroused a host of criticism for his debt-funded tax cuts.

Faced with the outcry, his government had to announce on Monday that it was giving up, under pressure from its own majority, to abolish the highest tax bracket, a measure which crystallized the opposition because it benefited the richest taxpayers.

“There’s no shame in a leader listening” and “responding” to concerns, Liz Truss told Sky News.

After having initially kicked into touch, she ended up affirming her support for her Minister of Finance Kwasi Kwarteng. “I trust the Chancellor” of the Exchequer, “absolutely,” she said on TalkTV.

The British press had hinted that Mr. Kwarteng was preparing in a new reversal, to present by the end of the month, before the scheduled date of November 23, the detailed financing of this plan as well as the forecasts which support it.

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But Kwasi Kwarteng said on Tuesday on the GB News channel that his project would be detailed on November 23, not before.

It is the absence of figures on the amount of the budgetary mega-package, of projections on the impact of this massive spending plan, without planned spending cuts and with debt financing at a time when inflation is soaring. and rates are rising, which set financial markets on fire last week. The central bank had intervened urgently by buying back long-term Treasury bonds to avoid the bankruptcy of pension funds.

Johnson’s promises

Another front already looks delicate for the Truss government, that of social benefits.

The head of government indicated that “no decision” has yet been taken about the basis on which they would be reassessed, while inflation is close to 10%.

The subject is already creating dissension within the government itself. Secretary of State for Relations with Parliament, Penny Mordaunt, stressed on Times Radio that she has “always supported, whether it is pensions or our welfare system, following the inflation”.

This raises questions about government discipline.

“People give interviews all the time, at the party convention, people talk,” Liz Truss minimized on the same radio. “The important thing is that we are all united behind the growth plan”.

The head of the House Treasury Committee, Mel Stride also warned the BBC that he would think twice if he were to vote for a benefit increase in line with wages rather than inflation, again raising hopes a risk of rebellion within the ranks of the majority.

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Several former ministers of Boris Johnson, who have become backbench MPs, have reminded Liz Truss to stay in line with Mr Johnson’s program in the triumphant election of December 2019.

At the party congress, one of the heavyweights of the majority, ex-minister Michael Gove, stressed during a meeting that the Tories must ensure that the commitments of the 2019 program are “honoured”, after that Liz Truss went back on the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

Asked by journalists whether she could stay in her post until the end of the year, he nevertheless replied in the affirmative.

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