Liz? Liz who? The case of the vanishing prime minister

I have been following coverage of UK politics in the wake of the recent shambles and have been struck by how prime minister Liz Truss seems to have been completely sidelined and that the latest Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt is the person that people are looking to for authoritative answers to government policy questions. In today’s UQ (Urgent Questions) session in parliament, she was mostly absent and it was Hunt who took center stage. Even though one of the questions concerned her sacking of her previous chancellor, it was Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the commons, who had to respond to the question, raising speculations that she was auditioning for Truss’s role. Mordaunt said that Truss could not there due to other urgent commitments, which resulted in raucous laughter.

Truss seems to be so shell-shocked by the strong negative reactions to the policies that she and the previous chancellor Kwasi Kwerteng rushed through, and the strong calls for her to quit, that she seems to have decided to keep as low a profile as possible, making Hunt appear to be the de facto prime minister. Hunt has tried twice before and failed miserably to become party leader and thus prime minister, and now seems to be relishing the power that he has unexpectedly acquired, confidently reversing some of Truss’s policies.

It reminds me of the politics in Sri Lanka where Ranil Wickremesinghe tried on two occasions to become president and lost both times and then lost even his parliamentary seat, along with every member of his party. But then the disgraced outgoing President Rajapaksa and his family maneuvered to get him into the presidency through the back door and now he acts as if he received a sweeping mandate, protecting the Rajapaksa family from any consequences and using draconian anti-terrorist laws to harshly crack down on the leaders of the protests that ousted them.

On Wednesday, the UK parliament has the session known as PMQs (prime minister’s questions) and if Truss is to retain any shred of credibility whatsoever she must attend and put on a strong showing, though she will face a very boisterous crowd.

The British system is one with a strong executive prime minister and so the secondary role that Truss seems to have been reduced to so quickly is quite astonishing.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    This PMQs will seal her fate I think. She can’t win. She can either stay home and look weak, or turn up and do her usual “this bad animatronic of Thatcher needs rebooting, its fucked” act. I can’t see a third option.

  2. says

    Does BoJo still have his seat in the House of Commons? Or would he have to run for it again before bravely coming back to save the day for the Tories?

  3. sonofrojblake says

    Yesterday was amazing. It defies comment. I’ll just leave here this link to a timeline of what went on. I no longer have any idea what to say about this nonsense.

  4. Dunc says

    And today we’ve gone from being assured that Truss would definitely remain in post past 31st October, had no plans for going anywhere, and certainly wouldn’t be giving a press conference or making any more changes to the cabinet today, to her announcing her resignation -- all in the space of less than 90 minutes. Astonishing, even by the ludicrous standards of recent weeks.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    It will be entertaining to see how the Tories will find someone even worse. I trust them, though.

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