London: The shortest-serving British Prime Minister was George Canning, who, in 1827, was in office for a mere 119 days. His term though was cut short not by political events, but by his premature death at the age of 57.
The current incumbent of 10 Downing Street Liz Truss, who has been in post for only 39 days, appears to be increasingly in danger of being ousted by her Conservative party MPs, unless there’s a dramatic turnaround in her fortunes over the next few days.
Nicholas Watt, political editor of the in-depth current affairs programme on TV, BBC Newsnight, tweeted: “The PM will find it difficult to survive”. According to him, a group of Conservative lawmakers are planning to call on Truss to resign next week.
Watt’s post following the sacking of Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday morning. His ‘mini-budget’ last month created a 62 billion pound hole in the British government’s finances with sweeping, populist, unfunded tax cuts.
The giveaway was received with considerable concern in the markets. The value of the pound collapsed from around $1.30 to lmost the level of the United States currency. It was trading at $1.12 on Friday.
In a letter accepting his dismissal, Kwarteng u-turned by asking Truss to move forward to “fiscal discipline”. This was interpreted in informed circles as an impending reversal of some of the tax cuts announced by the former only three weeks ago.
The bottom line however is, the mini-budget was nothing but a reflection of the promises made by Truss during her bid for the leadership of the Conservative party and therefore the post of Prime Minister. It will, pundits suggested, be difficult for her to distance herself from the proposals. On the other hand, if she does a volte-face, her credibility could suffer irreparably.
Truss repeatedly clashed with her Indian-origin rival in the leadership contest Rishi Sunak on tax issues. Sunak conspicuously did not attend last week’s annual Conservative party conference. It remains to be seen if he emerges as Truss’s potential successor, if she is forced to step down.
Truss was expected to address a press conference later on Friday.