UK: can the Tories survive the chaos?

After the failure of her mini-budget, British Prime Minister Liz Truss's hold on power is becoming increasingly tenuous. A growing number of Conservative Party members are calling for her resignation. Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned on Wednesday, also citing serious concerns about the government breaking key pledges to voters. Europe's press discusses the Tories' plight.

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Times of Malta (MT) /

Beginning to look like Italy

Elections alone are not a magic bullet, the Times of Malta points out:

“In a democracy there is no guarantee that the way that a new prime minister is chosen is always the best for the country. Conservative MPs, fearing a bloodbath in the next election, may well decide that party members chose the wrong person to lead the country a few short weeks ago. What matters above all to MPs is that they get re-elected, even at the cost of causing more damage to the country's credibility. The UK is already beginning to look more like Italy with its frequent change of prime ministers - by some accounts, Truss's days are numbered. Like all other European countries, the UK needs to steer away from populist strategies that promise unaffordable tax concessions.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

The price of deluding oneself

Naftemporiki writes:

“Leaving the EU has laid the foundations for the Tories to deliberately mask reality - and continue to deceive the British with new falsehoods. False promises brought Boris Johnson to power, but Truss has also acted in a similar way. ... In other European countries, too, the idea of leaving the EU has long since become a 'sham' - even among the most hardened enemies of a united Europe. Marine Le Pen in France, Georgia Meloni in Italy or Jimmie Åkesson in Sweden: even far-right politicians become less and less interested in leaving the EU the closer they get to power.”

Tageblatt (LU) /

Trust lost, experiment a failure

Truss has done a lot of damage in a short time, Tageblatt's London correspondent Jochen Wittmann concludes:

“In just 40 days with Truss, the British have become a good deal poorer. In the UK, the parties that have always been able to win elections are those that the citizens believe to be economically competent. In the past, it was usually the Conservatives. After the failure of the Truss experiment, this trust has completely disappeared.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Boring but reliable

For the Neue Zürcher Zeitung Jeremy Hunt's staid professional style is a perfect match for Britain:

“Under Johnson, responsibility and accountability suffered badly. With Truss, transparency and a focus on the country's needs were lacking. Both led to chaos, both were quickly ended by the well-functioning political institutions. The time for seductive visions is over. ... The Tories are now following their man without qualities, the ever-friendly, multifunctional minister Jeremy Hunt, who is confidently leading the country into calmer waters after the Truss storm. Hunt isn't the type to sweep anyone off their feet either. But he can be relied on.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Not what they want but what they need

Hunt and the Tories are not a good fit, The Guardian smirks:

“Twice Hunt has sought to lead his party; twice he was rejected. Now, apparently, that is a recommendation to be chancellor. In other words, even Tory MPs are measuring reliability in distance from their own record, and defining sensible government as the opposite of whatever their members want. It is a good metric, and one that voters will take to the logical conclusion: the serious problem with British politics is an absurd Conservative party that hardly even trusts itself to govern any more.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Consensus candidate is the best option

Ilta-Sanomat sees only one chance for the ruling party:

“Another race for the party leadership would be embarrassing and would slow down decision-making. Holding new elections is not a tempting option either, since they would almost certainly result in defeat. The face-saving option would be for the party to find a new candidate for prime minister strong enough to be appointed without a vote. That doesn't seem very likely, however.”

The New Times (RU) /

A ridiculous merry-go-round

The New Times sees the Tories in chaos and without a proper leadership:

“Judging by the mood in the Tory parliamentary group, a way to change the leadership is now being sought, since Liz Truss is clearly dragging the party into the abyss. Over half of the Conservative Party members who favoured her in September's election now think she should resign - and 50 to 60 percent would vote for Rishi Sunak today! ... A majority of party members (63 percent of those polled) even think Boris Johnson would be the best Truss successor(!), although of course neither the country nor the Tory MPs would condone such a decision. ... The party, which has tried out four party leaders since 2016, is in danger of becoming a laughing stock.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Pointless self-torment

The new British chancellor of the exchequer has immediately discarded Liz Truss's plans. This will be the fatal blow for the PM, De Standaard believes:

“It was as if Hunt had turned up at his neighbour's house at 10 Downing Street with a flamethrower and burnt everything in his path. ... Remaining in office has become nothing more than pointless self-torment for Truss. She no longer even has the option of sacrificing a loyal ally. Her predecessors Theresa May and, even more so, Boris Johnson fought for months before surrendering to their fate. All that awaits Liz Truss is humiliation and irrelevance. She is, as the English say, toast.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

New chancellor now has the momentum

Truss won't be able to restore her claim to leadership, writes the Wiener Zeitung:

“After only 42 days in office, British Prime Minister Liz Truss's authority is in tatters. ... After the previous experience of these years of organised turmoil it is unlikely that anyone who was involved in creating and developing the chaos will manage to reestablish their political authority. This at least leaves the new Chancellor Hunt, who has been a member of various Tory cabinets since 2010, with a mini chance. He is now the central political authority of the British government, or what's left of it.”

The Observer (GB) /

This sacrifice won't save her

This is the end of the road for Truss as prime minister, says The Observer:

“Firing him [Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng] might buy her a bit more time at Number 10, but time to do what exactly except wait for Conservative MPs to organise her removal? She sank even further down in her party's already low estimation during the excruciating news conference she gave after jettisoning both her chancellor and another chunk of their disintegrating plan. ... She expressed herself 'incredibly sorry' to 'lose' Mr Kwarteng as if someone else had chucked him under the bus. She was simply in denial ... insisting that the 'mission remains' when we can all see that the rocket has blown up on the launchpad.”

Der Standard (AT) /

No Iron Lady

Der Standard also sees the possibility of Truss's time as prime minister coming to an abrupt end:

“She is accused of having known what consequences her policies would have on the financial markets. First and foremost, her biggest rival, former chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, had told Truss what would happen during the campaign for the party leadership in the summer: tax cuts on credit would have an inflationary effect, increase the cost of government borrowing and weaken the British pound. All this has happened. It's no wonder the Tories are forging plans for Truss's defenestration.”

The Independent (GB) /

Time for a general election

The Independent calls for far-reaching consequences:

“The prime minister conspicuously failed to answer the question: why should Mr Kwarteng go and she stay, given that they worked 'in lockstep' in devising the failed policy?... If Ms Truss wants to stay on as prime minister, she must put her case to the British people. If her MPs want to replace her as prime minister, whoever replaces her must do likewise. ... The future of the country cannot be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it should be decided by the people in a general election now.”