Liz Truss faces uphill battle after British mini budget



The one bit of good news came on Friday when the Office for National Statistics revealed the UK economy grew 0.2 per cent over the three months to June, avoiding a predicted recession after a 0.1 per cent fall in gross domestic product, the measure of the quantity of goods and services produced, for the quarter – between April to June.

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But Britain is the only G7 economy that remains smaller than it was before the pandemic, despite diminished fears of recession.

And over the weekend householders were told that the first of a handful of payments, adding up to £400, had been credited to their power bills. This was supposed to be the headline from Truss’s first few weeks in power. It is now a distant memory.

While Truss and her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, boast of their courage and bravery by taking on the economic orthodoxy, the reality is their reckless actions against warnings last week meant pension funds holding £1 trillion of British savings were narrowly saved from disaster through the central bank’s unprecedented action to prevent a run on which could have triggered mass insolvencies.

It also pushed banks into withdrawing mortgage deals because of the interest rate chaos that followed. In the coming weeks interest rates will be pushed higher, meaning millions more families will be crunched.

And if Truss thinks things are bad now, (when just 18 per cent of people polled by YouGov think she’s doing a good job and 51 per cent of say she should quit already), then the winter could take things to a new level.

The precarious state of the National Health Service has had less attention of late, but a likely uptick in coronavirus and flu cases as the cold sets in – with mass staff shortages – could push it to the brink.

In August, a person in England who suffered a stroke or a serious burn waited an average of 43 minutes for an ambulance. That is almost two-and-a-half times the government target of 18 minutes. In the same month there were 6200 excess deaths – those above the number that would be expected on past trends – most of which cannot be explained by COVID-19.

Charities have also warned that millions of Britons face a “public health crisis” this winter because of high energy bills, despite the government’s package to limit costs.

Anti-poverty groups say there are already evidence of some families cutting back on the quantity and quality of food they were buying to pay gas and electricity bills, which will be almost double the level they were in 2021.

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And in a looming energy crisis, deepened by the world’s decision to stop buying energy from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, households across the country could be asked to move mealtimes, avoid putting the washing on, think twice about heating or turn the lights off to avoid total blackouts this winter. This is depending, of course, on the weather.

But amid continued transport strikes that have ruined so many summer holidays, there’s a real threat that things right now may even be as good as they are going to get for Truss and her government.

And with more than two years before another election, that is a grim thought.



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