From market chaos to ministerial exits: British leader Truss' 45 days in office

British PM Liz Truss and her husband Hugh O'Leary outside 10 Downing Street after delivering her first speech as prime minister on Sept 6, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON British Prime Minister Liz Truss has resigned after only six weeks in the job. Here is a timeline of her 45 days in office:

Sept 5 - Ms Truss is elected leader of the Conservative Party by the party’s membership, winning 57 per cent of the vote to succeed Mr Boris Johnson.

Sept 6 - Mr Johnson formally tenders his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II and Ms Truss is appointed prime minister.

Sept 8 - Ms Truss announces the government will cap soaring consumer energy bills for two years to cushion the economic shock of the war in Ukraine, a plan expected to cost the country tens of billions of pounds.

Sept 19 - Ms Truss makes her first appearance on the international stage as prime minister by giving a Bible reading at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.

Sept 20-21 - Ms Truss travels to the United Nations General Assembly in New York – her first foreign trip as prime minister – and has her first in-person meeting with United States President Joe Biden.

Sept 23 - Ms Truss’ finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng sets out a “mini-budget” which includes £45 billion (S$72 billion) of unfunded tax cuts and huge increases in government borrowing, sending the sterling and British government bonds into free fall. He is criticised for failing to publish growth and borrowing forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility government watchdog alongside the budget.

Sept 26 - The central bank says it will not hesitate to change interest rates and is monitoring markets “very closely”, after the pound plunged to a record low and British bond prices collapsed in response to the new government’s financial plans.

Sept 28 - The Bank of England seeks to quell the firestorm in Britain’s bond markets, saying it will buy as much government debt as needed to restore order.

Sept 29 - Ms Truss breaks her silence after nearly a week of market chaos to say she is prepared to make controversial and difficult decisions to get the economy growing.

Oct 3 - Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng are forced to reverse a planned cut to the highest rate of income tax after turmoil in the markets and opposition from many of their own Conservative lawmakers.

Oct 6 - Ms Truss attends the inaugural meeting of the European Political Community in Prague, with some hoping her decision to attend was a sign of a reset in relations between Brussels and London.

Oct 10 - Under pressure to rebuild shattered investor confidence, Mr Kwarteng brings forward the publication date for fiscal plans and economic forecasts to Oct 31, from Nov 23.

Oct 11 - The Bank of England expands its programme of daily bond purchases to include inflation-linked debt, citing a “material risk” to British financial stability and “the prospect of self-reinforcing ‘fire sale’ dynamics”.

Oct 12 - The government says it will not reverse its vast tax cuts or reduce public spending despite ongoing market turmoil. British government borrowing costs hit a 20-year high.

Oct 14 - Ms Truss fires Mr Kwarteng and acknowledges her government’s plans had gone “further and faster” than investors were expecting. She appoints Mr Jeremy Hunt as his replacement. She also announces corporation tax will rise to 25 per cent, reversing an earlier plan to freeze it at 19 per cent, and says public spending will have to grow less rapidly than previously planned.

Oct 17 - Mr Hunt reverses nearly all of the mini-budget and reins in the vast energy subsidy plan, saying the country needs to rebuild investor confidence. He says changes to planned tax cuts will raise £32 billion and government spending cuts will also be needed.

Oct 19 - Interior minister Suella Braverman resigns after breaking rules by sending an official document from her personal e-mail. She also says she has serious concerns about the government, and that just hoping problems would go away is not a viable approach. Hours later, Conservative lawmakers openly row amid confusion over whether a vote on fracking is a confidence vote in the government. The government wins the vote, but more than 30 Conservatives do not take part, and Ms Truss’ office says those without a reasonable excuse can expect disciplinary action.

Oct 20 - Ms Truss announces her resignation. She says she will remain as prime minister until a successor has been chosen within a week. REUTERS

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