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British Prime Minister Liz Truss vows to stay, but is on brink after Suella Braverman’s resignation

LONDON: British Prime Minister Liz Truss portrayed herself on Wednesday as a “fighter, not a quitter,” as she faced furious opposition and wrath from her own Conservative Party over her bungled economic plan. Her administration was on the edge of collapse within hours of her courageous declaration.

A senior cabinet member resigned under a barrage of criticism directed at Truss, and a House of Commons vote devolved into squabbles and charges of bullying.

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, resigned after breaking the regulations by transmitting an official document from her personal email account. She criticised Truss in her resignation letter, stating she had “concerns about the course of this administration.”

“The business of government is dependent on individuals accepting responsibility for their mistakes,” she explained. Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, acting as if no one can see them, and expecting that things will suddenly improve is not real politics.

Braverman is a prominent figure on the Conservative Party’s right side and a supporter of stricter immigration policies. He stood unsuccessfully for party leader this summer, losing to Truss.

Former Cabinet minister Grant Shapps took over as home secretary, the minister in charge of immigration and law and order. He is a prominent supporter of Rishi Sunak, the former Treasury chief who was defeated in the last round of the Conservative leadership election by Truss.

Truss faced even more resistance in Parliament Wednesday evening during a vote on fracking for shale gas, which Truss wants to revive despite objections from many Conservatives.

With a large Conservative majority in Parliament, an opposition call for a fracking ban was easily defeated by 326 votes to 230, but some lawmakers were enraged when Conservative Party whips said the vote would be treated as a confidence motion, which would mean the government would fall if the motion passed.

During and after the vote, there were violent scenes in the House of Commons, with party whips accused of adopting heavy-handed methods to secure support. Labour lawmaker Chris Bryant stated that he “saw people being physically manhandled… and bullied.”

Conservative Chief Whip Wendy Morton, who is in charge of party discipline, and her deputy quit, according to several legislators. However, Truss’ office later said that both remained in their positions.

According to the official record, Conservative officials denied there had been any mistreatment, although Truss herself failed to vote due to the turmoil. Many conservative legislators were disheartened by the plight of their party.

Conservative lawmaker Charles Walker described it as a “shambles and a disgrace.”

“I hope it was worth it for all those individuals who put Liz Truss in (office),” he told the BBC. “I hope it was worth it to sit around the Cabinet table, because the damage they have done to our party is extraordinary.”

Truss replaced her Treasury chief, Kwasi Kwarteng, on Friday after the economic package they revealed on Sept. 23 frightened financial markets and sparked an economic and political crisis.

The plan’s unfunded tax cuts of 45 billion pounds ($50 billion) shook financial markets, lowering the value of the pound and raising the cost of UK government borrowing. The Bank of England was obliged to act in order to prevent the crisis from spreading and putting pension funds at risk.

Kwarteng’s replacement, Treasury Secretary Jeremy Hunt, reversed practically all of Truss’ tax cuts, as well as her flagship energy policy and her promise of no public expenditure cutbacks, on Monday. He stated that the government will need to save billions of pounds and make “many unpleasant decisions” before releasing a medium-term fiscal plan on Oct. 31.

For the first time since the U-turn, Truss apologised to lawmakers for the first time, admitting she had made errors during her six weeks in office, but argued that by altering course, she had “accepted responsibility and made the right decisions for the sake of the country’s economic stability.”

As she addressed in the House of Commons, opposition members yelled, “Resign!”

“Why is she still here?” asked opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer. “I am a warrior, not a quitter,” Truss responded. I have acted in the national interest to ensure economic stability.

Official numbers released Wednesday revealed that inflation in the United Kingdom climbed to 10.1% in September, returning to a 40-year peak first reached in July, as rising food prices pinched household budgets. While global inflation is high due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on energy supply, surveys show that a majority of Britons blame the government for the country’s economic woes.

With opinion polls showing the Labour Party with a significant and rising lead, many Conservatives now think that replacing Truss is their last chance of averting electoral doom. But she persists in remaining in office, and lawmakers are split on how to get rid of her.

A national election is not required until 2024. Truss appeared to rule out an early election on Wednesday, saying, “What is crucial is that we work together… to get through this winter and safeguard the economy.”

Under Conservative Party rules, Truss is theoretically safe from a leadership challenge for a year, but the rules may be amended if enough legislators demand it. There is wild conjecture about how many lawmakers have already filed letters requesting a vote of no confidence, and emotions got even higher on Wednesday evening.

There is currently no front-runner to succeed her. Sunak, House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, and popular Defense Secretary Ben Wallace all have admirers, as does Hunt, who many consider to be the de facto prime minister.

Some even advocate the return of Boris Johnson, who was removed from office in the summer after being embroiled in an ethics scandal.

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