By: Rohith Raghavan
A tumultuous period continues in Britain after the resignation of prime minister Lizz Truss and appointment of Rishi Sunak to the role. Marked by economic and political instability, the United Kingdom has been in a state of flux since the resignation of former prime minister Boris Johnson in early July.
Johnson’s departure set off the Conservative Party leadership election, which would decide Johnson’s successor. Truss won the vote between members of the party after preliminary rounds of voting whittled the candidates to Truss and Sunak. But merely two days after Truss officially accepted the position, Queen Elizabeth II passed away, sending the country into mourning. The added financial pressures of high fuel prices were compounded by tax cuts proposed by Truss and caused the British economy to crash. The backlash from the public was severe, forcing her to resign.
Mr. Ravikumar Balasubramaniam, a local Sharon resident and a British citizen, emphasized the convergence of multiple issues that face the UK. “They have a triple whammy, they have a political problem, they have an economic problem, and they have a fiscal problem of currency stability. I think they just got caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said.
Regarding the failed tax proposal, Balasubramaniam explains that Truss attempted to ease the burden of high gas prices on British consumers. “I think Lizz had a potential chance to win the confidence of her people if she had a better understanding of economics. I think she had the right idea, but she just didn’t have the right solution to back her ideas,” he said.
“The political turmoil has probably been amped by the economic collapse going on,” he added.
Sunak made it clear in his opening speech as PM that he would seek to bring steadiness to a country rocked by disorder. “I will place economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda… This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level,” he said.
But the new prime minister also highlighted the challenges Britain will have to face. “Right now our country is facing a profound economic crisis. The aftermath of Covid still lingers. Putin’s war in Ukraine has destabilized energy markets and supply chains the world over,” said Sunak.
Balasubramaniam shares similar sentiments that the upcoming future will be difficult for the UK, citing the high fuel and energy prices that will make it more expensive to keep homes warm in the winter. “They may have to toughen up and have to face this rough winter because it means higher prices, higher utility prices. I think they underestimated the effect of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and how the gas prices will actually really impact common people,” he said.
“I think they probably need to have a better economic backing. They may have to bear it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but there’s no way out as far as I can see. That is a reality,” Subramaniam added.