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Britain’s Truss faces whirlwind week as politics resumes after queen’s funeral


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss delivers a statement on sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the House of Commons, London, Britain, February 28, 2022. Parliament of the United Kingdom / Jessica Taylor / Handout via REUTERS

By Elizabeth Piper

LONDON (Reuters) – British politics returned to center on Tuesday after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, with Prime Minister Liz Truss signaling her priorities by flying to her first major summit and urgently take measures to prevent the economic decline.

Since the queen’s death on September 8, politics – or at least the discussion of its internals – has paused for a period of national mourning, out of respect for a reigning monarch. for 70 years.

The timing of the political pause disappointed some in government, coming after a two-month leadership campaign and as Britain risks falling into a protracted recession and facing an energy crisis. financial threat to millions of people.

But according to sources, it has allowed some of Truss’ ministers time to form their new departments and adjust their policies. It just makes for a busy week ahead.

The new policies will be rolled out over several weekends in parliament, where the government hopes to sit for an extra day on Friday before bidding farewell to the annual party conference season.

These will include a support package to help businesses cope with rising energy prices, a statement about possible cuts in treatment wait times at Britain’s state-run National Health Service. and many promises of tax cuts to try to spur growth.

She will also meet US President Joe Biden at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday after meeting a number of leaders who attended the queen’s funeral, which saw 2,000 people pay their respects at the end of the day. their same.

A veteran Conservative Party member said: “I think we will see a focused, strong start, showing momentum and direction without the distractions and drama on the sidelines. “Policies were there, but they were put into parts (during the mourning period).”

On his second day in office, Truss made a big announcement about measures to ease the pain of sky-high energy prices – but this was overshadowed by the news a few hours later that the queen had died. died.

The new prime minister had to change gear immediately, focusing on getting the right tunes in his speeches and honoring the queen, while keeping his distance for the royal family to take the lead. For some in her Conservative Party, the pause has softened any criticism of her costly early moves.

And while her spokesmen diligently declined to make an announcement during the period of national mourning, her government continued its work, with one source saying that her ministers had stay in the finance department even on Sunday.

Other institutions have also eased their public-facing work, with the UK financial sector canceling events and postponing meetings during a period of mourning, which culminates with a public holiday on Monday – which could reduce economic output by 0.2 percentage points this month.

Busy WEEK

Truss’ key mantra for what she wants to achieve in government is “growth”, in the belief that by raising the rate of economic growth she can solve many other lasting problems. .

That will be laid out in her financial report, or small budget, expected to be sent by her finance minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, on Friday when he will scrap the increase in insurance contributions. national insurance and a corporate tax freeze.

Kwarteng will also provide an estimated cost of the energy plan, but providing details will be up to the business unit. He could also announce an end to the bankers’ bonus cap, but last week no decision was made.

On Thursday, the Bank of England will raise interest rates to combat inflation, which appears to be heading in the opposite direction of Kwarteng, where tax cuts could affect prices. Her team has made it clear she doesn’t want the “distractions” that have plagued the tenure of her predecessor Boris Johnson, who was eventually forced out by his own party after months of missteps and scandals. confused.

Kwarteng’s decision to fire the top official from the finance ministry caused some disappointment, but was largely overshadowed by the queen’s death.

But while congress will be heavily focused on dealing with domestic problems, Truss’ first harbor will be New York.

There, she will attend the United Nations’ annual meeting of world leaders and take the opportunity to get what Downing Street has described as a “full bilateral meeting” with Biden instead. for an informal meeting in London on the sidelines of the funeral.

Britain has long hailed its so-called special relationship with the United States, but the relationship has been tested, especially over Brexit and Truss’ decision to introduce legislation to unilaterally change a deal on trade. post-Brexit with Northern Ireland.

Biden has long been public about his concerns about Northern Ireland’s future, but the two will find more in common in their strong stances against Russia and China. While secretary of state, Truss described the relationship as “special, but not exclusive”.

For a woman who says she will be ready to govern from day one, she has set herself a difficult agenda. (1 dollar = 0.8787 pounds)

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