March 3, 2024

UK: Boris Johnson leaves, his policies remain - comment

UK: Boris Johnson leaves, his policies remain – comment

Since Boris Johnson stepped down, there is hope in Paris, Brussels and Berlin that one thing is possible again: a more relaxed relationship with Great Britain. Certainly not as close as in the EU, but certainly friendly and practical in the best sense of the word. It would, however, portend that Johnson’s successor is not so strongly driven by Brexit ideology. But it turns out, the opposite is expected.

The contest between Secretary of State Liz Truss and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is not a feast for the ideologues and the nostalgic. Not a day goes by where the two Prime Ministers don’t extol the benefits of Britain’s exit from the EU. Johnson’s successor has been incredibly well-received by party members. Brexit will be the political pledge to hold the Tories together. No other topic is so unanimous.

So it’s no surprise that polls show Truss has the best chance of becoming party leader and prime minister. Unlike Sunak, he was already among those in Johnson’s cabinet who called for a tougher stance in Brussels. Even now, there is no doubt that he is ready to escalate the Brexit dispute with the EU. When it comes to Northern Ireland, Truss wants to pass Johnson’s proposed legislation that would allow London to change its Brexit deal with the EU. Although Sunak says he would do the same, Truss seems more believable on this issue.

The consequences of leaving the EU will determine the term of the next prime minister, as will the consequences of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That is the most pressing problem Cost of living crisis. As everywhere else in Europe, the cost of living has risen sharply in Great Britain. However, at 10.1 percent, the inflation rate is significantly higher than in Germany or France. In the autumn, the Bank of England expects a further increase of 13 per cent.

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Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts

Truss and Sunak identify tax cuts as a recipe against the looming economic crisis. This is understandable as the Tories still have some popularity. The promise of a lean state that does everything to ensure citizens and companies can thrive freely has been central to Conservative economic policy since Margaret Thatcher.

Truss, who presents herself as the reincarnation of Iron Lady, therefore promises immediate tax cuts. Their calculation: If citizens have more money at their disposal, they will spend it, spurring growth. The only problem is that more demand for consumer goods will grow, and prices will rise, fueling inflation. That’s what Sunak warns, and he believes the tax cuts will only make sense after the economy grows again. A pragmatic approach, but an unwinnable majority under the Tories.

A lot could happen before Johnson’s successor is decided on Sept. 5. But for now, Truss is the clear choice. She will be less driven by ideology in office and instead act pragmatically. However, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too much.