U.K. must end political turmoil to maintain intl unity against Russia

Britain, along with the United States and Japan, bears a heavy responsibility for protecting the international order from threats posed by Russia and China. It is hoped that the political chaos in Britain will be brought under control as soon as possible to prevent international unity from being eroded.

Liz Truss has announced her intention to stand down as British prime minister. She took office on Sept. 6. After only 1½ months, she is leaving the post. The dizzying turnover from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Truss to a new premier is highly unusual.

Regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Truss had pledged to continue along the path set by Johnson of strengthening sanctions against Moscow and expanding support for Kyiv. Increasing defense spending was also one of her key pledges.

It is regrettable that the Truss administration collapsed before it could implement these security policies.

Since Johnson announced his resignation in July, British politics has been in turmoil. British politicians should keep in mind that frequent changes of prime ministers and a lack of policy implementation could lead to a decline in their country’s international influence.

The resignation of Truss was triggered by the failure of her economic program. The announcement of massive tax cuts without financial backing was seen as a pork-barrel policy, sparking sell-offs in British markets that pushed down the country’s government bond prices, the value of the pound and stock prices.

Her centerpiece policies were clearly rejected by the market, and Truss was forced to withdraw the tax cut package and other measures. As people increasingly questioned her authority and ability to run the government as prime minister, she must have concluded that it would have been difficult to turn the situation around.

In the previous leadership election of the ruling Conservative Party, Truss touted economic measures such as tax cuts that became the driving force behind her victory.

It can be said that the current political situation has demonstrated the danger of populist policies, such as drastic tax cuts. Politicians may win elections with promises that are popular with the public but not in line with the reality of economic and social situations, and they will find it difficult to deliver on those promises.

Competing to offer populist policies cannot be expected to lead to effective policy implementation or political stability. Measures to combat rising prices have become a common challenge in many countries. Britain’s political situation should serve as a useful reference for those considering how to run election campaigns and make policy decisions.

The Conservative Party’s last leadership race was held over a seven-week period from July to September, but this time the schedule has been significantly shortened and the winner will be decided later this month.

It is hoped that a prime minister will be elected who can unite the British people and strengthen ties with Japan, the United States and European countries on the Ukrainian crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 22, 2022)