British PM Faces Fresh Political Woes After Meeting With MPs

A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss gesturing and speaking during the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ’s) at the House of Commons, in London, on October 12, 2022. (Photo by JESSICA TAYLOR / UK PARLIAMENT / AFP)

 

 

Embattled British Prime Minister Liz Truss faced fresh woes on Thursday after a prominent Conservative party insider said some of her own MPs were considering pushing for two of her former rivals to replace her.

“All sorts of different people are talking about all sorts of different things because the Conservative backbenchers are casting around for a possible replacement for (finance minister) Kwasi Kwarteng, even for a possible replacement for Liz Truss,” Paul Goodman told the BBC.

The former Tory MP, who is editor of the influential ConservativeHome blog, said that less than 40 days into her premiership “all sorts of names are being thrown about” to replace the beleaguered leader.

They included former finance minister Rishi Sunak, who stood against Truss for the leadership of the Tory Party and “even Boris Johnson”, who she replaced as premier and party leader early last month.

“One idea doing the rounds is that Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak, who, after all, between them got pretty much two-thirds of the votes of MPs (in the leadership contest), come to some kind of arrangement and essentially take over.”

Mordaunt, a former defence minister, also stood against Truss, and is currently a member of her government.

Austerity fears

Truss on Wednesday appeared in parliament for the first time since her government’s controversial September 23 mini-budget prompted weeks of economic upheaval.

She told MPs she was “absolutely” committed to pledges made before she became leader to maintain current spending.

But with currency, bond and other markets spooked by the extra borrowing earmarked to pay for the mini-budget’s tax cuts, fears have grown that she will slash government department budgets, returning to the unpopular austerity policy of a decade ago.

Goodman, however, said he was “beginning to wonder whether or not ministers and Conservative MPs are capable of putting together a package of public spending cuts on the scale required”.

“And if they do, whether they’re going to be acceptable to the markets, or whether the markets are now going to demand the withdrawal, in effect, of the mini-budget, or most of it, that Kwasi Kwarteng announced only very recently.”

He said a small number of individual MPs had in recent days demanded government U-turns on Truss’s tax cutting policies.

“I don’t really know if they’re a majority or not, but if I’m right then we will see the government have great difficulty in getting this package of cuts together.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Thursday insisted the government would stick with Kwarteng’s mini-budget.

“It was about making sure that taxes for 30 million people were reduced a little bit and those are really strong principles. I think we should absolutely stick with those.

“All those things are really key for the growth agenda the prime minister has put forward,” he said.

His comments followed a meeting of Truss and members of her party on Wednesday.

Truss is the Conservative Party’s fourth leader in seven years.

Johnson was forced to quit in July after dozens of resignations from his government in protest at a series of scandals.

UK Ministers Urge Party To Back Under-Fire PM Truss

New Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister Liz Truss waves as she leaves the Conservative Party Headquarters in central London on September 5, 2022. AFP

 

Four ministers in Liz Truss’s government on Sunday urged Conservative colleagues to back the embattled UK prime minister following a punishing week that exposed deep divisions within the party.

Interior minister Suella Braverman, former finance minister Nadhim Zahawi, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt and environment minister Ranil Jayawardena all wrote articles for Sunday newspapers warning that they would soon find themselves in opposition unless the party united quickly.

READ ALSO: Italy To Face England In Euro 2024 Qualifying

Braverman wrote in The Sun On Sunday, “Those working with Labour to undermine our prime minister are putting the Conservatives’ chance of victory at the next election in real danger.

“So the choice for my colleagues and for us is as the party is simple — Back Liz or get (Labour leader) Keir Starmer, hand-in-hand with (SNP leader) Nicola Sturgeon.”

Braverman, however, was one of several ministers who went against Downing Street’s directions during her speech at the chaotic Tory Party conference this week.

Zahawi wrote in the Mail On Sunday that the government had made mistakes unrolling its fiscal policy, which led to a humiliating climbdown over a plan to cut income tax rates for the top earners.

But he said that “now is the time” to rally behind Truss, again warning that rebels risked ushering in a Labour government “propped up” by the SNP.

Fresh polling by Opinium for the Observer has put Truss’s personal approval rating at minus 47.

In a sign of her fallibility, cabinet ministers are reported to be joining forces to demand Truss rules out mooted plans to raise benefits in line with wages rather than inflation, The Sunday Times reported.

Former leadership rival Mordaunt was one of those who spoke out on the issue during the party conference. But she struck a conciliatory tone in a Sunday Telegraph article.

“You measure leaders when they are in the ring dazzled by the media lights taking punch after punch and taking the hard decisions required,” she wrote.

“All my colleagues have a part to play in delivering for the British people. The division will only play into the hands of those who would take our country in the wrong direction.”

Jayawardena meanwhile wrote in the Sunday Express that Tory MPs must “get behind” the PM.

“We need to back Liz Truss — or get Keir Starmer in Nicola Sturgeon’s pocket.”

Starmer has vowed not to make an electoral deal with the SNP, which favours Scottish independence from the rest of the UK, and said Labour would rather form a minority government.

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries is one of those Conservatives taking aim at Truss’s government.

She warned again on Sunday that the prime minister would have to change course on certain key policies or see the party’s polling deficit, currently sitting around 30 points behind Labour, worsen.

“I’m still one of Liz’s biggest supporters,” she told BBC on Sunday. “Now is the time, while we have a new PM and administration, to reflect on what’s gone wrong and reverse that poll deficit.

“What we don’t need is a disruptor. We need a unifier.”

Tinubu Will Be Back In Nigeria ‘In A Couple Of Days’  – Keyamo

A file photo of APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.

 

Festus Keyamo says the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Tinubu will soon be back in the country. 

The spokesman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) made the comment on Wednesday following concerns raised about Tinubu’s continued stay in the UK.

“I know he would be back in a couple of days. I have that information. I don’t know the particular day,” the minister of state for Labour and Employment said on Channels Television’s Politics Today. “I can’t say Friday or Saturday but I know he would be back in a couple of days.”

Tinubu’s visit to the United Kingdom has made headlines in recent times. Critics claim his absence when political campaigns have kickstarted suggests there might be issues. Others claim the former Lagos State governor is on a medical visit to the UK.

READ ALSOAdamu Meets NWC, APC Governors Over Tinubu’s Campaign List

‘Candidate To Beat?

In the wake of the debates triggered by his absence in the country, Tinubu released a seven-second workout video,  saying he is fit to lead the country contrary to insinuations.

And when asked if the APC flagbearer is in London on a medical trip, Keyamo said, “I don’t have such information”, maintaining that “I speak for the campaign council and not for the candidate”.

Keyamo also said Tinubu has nothing to prove about his health. As far as he is concerned, the spotlight on the APC candidate is because the “candidate to beat” for next year’s presidential poll.

“In my own Twitter post on it, I said we are not trying to prove anything to anybody,” he noted.

“We are proud that he is the candidate to beat,” Keyamo argued.

According to him, Tinubu’s absence will not affect the APC campaign, recalling how the party started the campaign in 2019 50 days late.

“Buhari was around on that occasion. Was it because Buhari was sick that we started 50 or 60 days later? No! We had to properly plan a campaign,” he said.

“It is not true therefore that we have not kicked off because a candidate is sick and because he is not around. I am only saying that there is a history. So, it is not automatic (for APC to start presidential campaigns).”

Queen Elizabeth II: Commonwealth Should Come Together – Paul Arkwright 

 

The death of Queen Elizabeth II and the formal proclamation of King Charles III are great opportunities for the Commonwealth to come together. 

This was the comment of a former  British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, who spoke on Saturday, hours after Charles III was formally proclaimed king at a pomp-filled ceremony.

“The Commonwealth is very important to King Charles. In 2018 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London, there was a decision that he would become the Head of the Commonwealth upon the passing of his mother,” Arkwright told Channels Television.

“That is again another smooth transition when it comes to his role as the Head of the Commonwealth. But as the Queen herself used to describe the Commonwealth as a family, I do think that this is a moment for the whole family to come together.

“You are right, there have been strains within the Commonwealth, but I think, at the recent meeting in Kigali, which of course was a meeting held in Africa, we welcomed two new members from Africa. I think the Commonwealth is in good hands.”

READ ALSO: Charles III Proclaimed King With Trumpet Fanfare

According to him, the recent developments in the UK offer chances to further strengthen the values of the Commonwealth, maintaining that “it is a good moment to reflect” despite the strain in the group.

“It is a moment to look forward and to see how we can build the Commonwealth family and to make it even stronger,” he added.

He admitted that this is a difficult moment for Britain but argued that there is a note of optimism for the country.

“We are facing some turbulent times in the UK both politically and economically. We got a winter ahead which I think will be very difficult for many people in the UK,” Arkwright said.

“But this is a moment when everybody can come together and it is a unifying moment and I think there is a note of hope and optimism about the family – if you like, not just the Royal Family but all of us as a family (the family of the Commonwealth) coming together to wish the new king well.”

Buhari Mourns Death Of Queen Elizabeth II

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says he has received with immense sadness news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

In a statement late on Thursday evening, the president mourned the dead monarch and commiserated with the Royal Family.

“My family and I, and the more than 200 million Nigerians have learned with immense sadness of the passing of the Queen and the end of her unique and wonderful 70 year reign. Her late Majesty was the only British Sovereign known to 90 percent of our population.


READ ALSO: Commonwealth Mourns ‘Warm And Kind’ Queen Elizabeth II


“Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom and the entire Commonwealth as we join the entire world in mourning her loss.

“The story of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth ll, a towering global personality and an outstanding leader. She dedicated her life to making her nation, the Commonwealth and the entire world a better place,” the president stated.

He also welcomed Your Majesty’s ascension to the throne in line with tradition and prayed that King Charles the Third’s reign will witness the continuing robust and sisterly relations between our two nations.

UK Sporting Events Suspended After Queen Elizabeth II’s Death

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II stands on the Balcony of Buckingham Palace as the troops march past during the Queen’s Birthday Parade, the Trooping the Colour, as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee celebrations, in London on June 2, 2022.  (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP)

 

Sporting events in Britain scheduled for Friday, including Test cricket and European golf’s PGA Championship, have been cancelled as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

British horse racing chiefs also pressed the pause button as tributes poured in for the late British monarch from across the sporting world.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said Friday’s play between England and South Africa in the third Test at the Oval would not take place.

Thursday’s first day in London was washed out without a ball bowled. The three-match series is locked at 1-1.

“Following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Friday’s play between England and South Africa Men at The Oval, along with all scheduled matches in the (women’s domestic) Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, will not take place,” said an ECB statement.

READ ALSO: Queen Elizabeth II Dies At 96

Play at the PGA Championship at Wentworth, near London, was suspended on Thursday evening when news broke about the death of the 96-year-old monarch and it was later confirmed that there would be no play on Friday.

“Out of respect for Her Majesty and the Royal Family, play has been suspended at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club for the remainder of Thursday and flags at Wentworth Club will be lowered to half-mast,” a European Tour statement said.

“Furthermore, no play will take place at the BMW PGA Championship on Friday and the golf course and practice facilities will be closed.”

Manchester United’s home clash in the Europa League against Real Sociedad went ahead but a minute’s silence was held before kick-off and players wore black armbands.

The English Football League announced the postponement of Friday’s two scheduled matches, adding “a determination regarding the remainder of this weekend’s scheduled fixtures will be made following a review of the official mourning guidance”.

– Racing in mourning –

It was reported that a meeting of governing bodies across a range of sports has been scheduled for Friday morning, where officials will set out government guidance on the official 10-day period of mourning.

It is understood sports chiefs will be left to make their own judgements regarding the staging of events.

The British Horseracing Authority said the sport was in mourning for the queen, who showed an intense passion for racing throughout her life.

“Her Majesty has been one of the greatest and most influential supporters in the history of horse racing,” the BHA said.

“Her passion for racing and the race horse shone brightly throughout her life”.

The BHA’s statement added: “It is right, therefore, that all racing is suspended for today and tomorrow as we begin to grieve Her Majesty’s passing and remember her extraordinary life and contribution to our sport and our nation.”

Brazilian football great Pele was among huge numbers of sports stars who paid tribute to the queen.

“I have been a great admirer of Queen Elizabeth II since the first time I saw her in person, in 1968, when she came to Brazil to witness our love for football and experienced the magic of a packed Maracana,” he tweeted.

“Her deeds have marked generations. This legacy will last forever.”

– ‘Grievously missed’ –

Former England captain and current World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont tweeted: “Her Majesty The Queen will be remembered as a much-loved, visionary monarch, who cared deeply about all people under her reign, and was an avid supporter of sport and its power to unite communities.”

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said the queen had shown “exceptional leadership, grace, wisdom and fortitude”.

“I will never forget her total commitment to the success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Coe said.

“She has been a source of continuity and comfort, and she will be grievously missed by us all.”

The United States Tennis Association announced there would be “a moment of silence and a show photo montage” at the US Open on Thursday.

A message on Twitter from Wimbledon, where the queen previously served as a patron, read: “We wish to convey our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to The Royal Family on the sad passing of Her Majesty The Queen.”

North America’s National Hockey League (NHL) posted footage from the Queen’s ceremonial puck drop at a 2002 contest between the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks.

Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali said: “For more than seven decades she dedicated her life to public service with dignity and devotion and inspired so many around the world.”

AFP

Kemi Badenoch Of Nigerian Heritage Gets UK Trade Secretary Job

An undated handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Conservative MP for Saffron Walden, Olukemi Badenoch, posing for an official portrait photograph at the Houses of Parliament in London. (Photo by Chris McAndrew / UK PARLIAMENT / AFP)

 

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK), Liz Truss, has appointed Kemi Badenoch as the new Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade.

Ms Badenoch, who was born Olukemi Olufunto in Wimbledon, London to parents of Nigerian origin, is also the MP for Saffron Walden.

Her appointment comes hours after Truss assumed office as Britain’s third woman prime minister and new Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, taking over from Boris Johnson who held the position since July 2019.

The 42-year-old’s appointment was announced on the verified Twitter page for the office of the UK Prime Minister based at 10 Downing Street.

 

In her reaction, she promised to commence the process that would lead to the creation of more jobs and better economic opportunities for people across the UK.

Before her appointment as UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Badenoch served as British equalities minister during Johnson’s tenure.

She previously held roles as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education.

 

Badenoch is also a former Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party and former member of the Justice Select Committee. Prior to her election as a Member of Parliament, she was a Conservative member of the London Assembly, acting as the GLA Conservative’s spokesperson for the economy.

She was also in the race to succeed the former prime minister alongside Rishi Sunak, former chancellor; Sajid Javid, former health secretary; Ben Wallace, defence secretary; and Jeremy Hunt, former foreign secretary, among several others.

All the former contenders, however, lost the UK top job to 47-year-old Truss who has been the Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk since 2010.

UK’s Truss Makes History With Non-White Top Team

This combination of pictures created on September6, 2022 shows (from top L to down R) Britain's new Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Britain's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, Britain's new Health Secretary Therese Coffey and Britain's new Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng leaving 10 Downing Street after a meeting with Britain's new Prime Minister Liz Truss in central London.  (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)
This combination of pictures created on September6, 2022 shows (from top L to down R) Britain’s new Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, Britain’s new Health Secretary Therese Coffey and Britain’s new Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng leaving 10 Downing Street after a meeting with Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss in central London. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)

 

The leading cabinet lieutenants of Britain’s third woman prime minister share her right-wing ideology. They are all also people of colour.

For the first time in UK history, no white men will occupy any of the four “great offices of state”: prime minister, Treasury, foreign office and home affairs.

Britain might even have got its first ethnic Indian occupant of 10 Downing Street. But Liz Truss beat Rishi Sunak in the ruling Conservative party’s contest to find a successor to Boris Johnson.

Traditionally the party of the better-off establishment, the Conservatives have made bigger strides towards ethnic and gender diversity in their top ranks than the centre-left Labour opposition.

Labour has still to elect a permanent woman leader, but surveys show it retains a hold on most non-white voters who credit its progressive economic policies and its historical fight against racism.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner admitted the Tories were ahead in their visible diversity.

“That’s progress, and that’s really welcome. We do need diversity,” she told BBC radio Tuesday as Truss prepared to announce her senior team.

But Rayner added: “It’s about what you do as well as where you come from.

“Liz Truss has been part of the (Johnson) cabinet that has made the decisions that have got us into the mess that we’re in.”

‘Kind of banal’

With arguably the toughest brief at a time of economic crisis, Kwasi Kwarteng was appointed by Truss to become Britain’s first black chancellor of the exchequer.

As the first black foreign secretary, James Cleverly will offer a different diplomatic face for a country that once ruled a quarter of the planet.

Suella Braverman, whose family roots are in India, was meanwhile named home secretary with oversight of policing and immigration.

The new ministers are ardent opponents of “woke” awareness in race, and support UK plans to send would-be migrants arriving by boat to Rwanda.

University of Manchester political scientist Rob Ford said many minority politicians in the Conservative party “have extremely individualist views about race and disadvantage”.

They believe that “anybody can succeed regardless of their background”, he told AFP, arguing also that it was now commonplace to see people of colour occupying top jobs in UK politics.

“The very fact that this is now kind of banal is what makes it remarkable,” Ford said — while stressing that social class remains a daunting barrier.

When David Cameron became Tory party leader in 2005, he encouraged a new generation of Tories of colour, and women, to stand for parliament and take the electoral fight to Tony Blair’s “New Labour”.

Truss herself was a beneficiary of Cameron’s selection reforms.

Culture warriors

But it still helps to have gone to the right school.

Kwarteng studied at the exclusive Eton College — Cameron and Johnson’s alma mater — before going on to the University of Cambridge, where Braverman also did her degree.

Cleverly was privately educated too, before entering the army.

Sunder Katwala, director of the research group British Future, said the Conservatives still have work to do to erode Labour’s lead among minority voters.

“The left doubts if ethnic faces in high places make much difference, especially if they replicate the educational privileges of the existing elites,” he wrote in the Eastern Eye newspaper.

There were eight candidates at the start of the Conservatives’ leadership race in July: half were women, and half were from ethnic minorities.

They included the right-winger Kemi Badenoch, who is also tipped for a role in the Truss cabinet.

Badenoch and Braverman are both enthusiastic combatants in Britain’s “culture wars”.

The new home secretary earned a rebuke from Jewish leaders in 2019 when she attacked “cultural Marxism” — an anti-Semitic jibe coined by the Nazis and popular today among the far-right.

But such outspokenness has made the likes of Braverman, Badenoch and former home secretary Priti Patel popular with the older and largely white Tory membership, if less so among minority voters at large.

Katwala cautioned: “Some feel it can even be actively regressive if ethnic minority ministers feel a particular pressure to outflank their colleagues on the right.”

 

AFP

New UK PM Truss Inherits Economy Headed For Recession

New Conservative Party leader and Britain’s Prime Minister-elect Liz Truss smiles as she arrives on stage to deliver a speech at an event to announce the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest in central London on September 5, 2022. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

 

New UK Prime Minister Liz Truss inherits an economy set to enter recession before the end of the year, with double-digit inflation forecast to soar further.

– Cost of living –

Shoppers, some wearing face coverings to combat the spread of the coronavirus, walk past stores in Camden Market in London, on January 7, 2022, as UK businesses and consumers face mounting fallout from surging inflation, including higher interest rates. Restrictions imposed in the wake of the Omicron coronavirus variant have “wiped out” much of a recent recovery enjoyed by UK bricks-and-mortar stores, the British Retail Consortium revealed Friday, January 7. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP

 

With inflation at a 40-year high above 10 percent, fuelled by rocketing energy and food prices, Truss promised during her campaign to cut taxes.

She pledged also to reverse a recent increase in workers’ National Insurance contributions that fund the public health service and welfare payments.

Truss is also proposing to axe taxes on fuel that pay for the transition to cleaner energy but she has rejected “sticking plaster” solutions to the cost-of-living crisis such as direct government aid.

An emergency budget is expected within weeks, as the Bank of England (BoE) predicts that the UK will enter a year-long recession by the end of 2022.

Before then, Truss is expected to present a plan to tackle soaring energy bills.

“If I’m elected prime minister, I will act immediately on bills and on energy supply,” Truss, who steps up from her role as foreign minister, told the BBC on Sunday.

British households are facing an eye-watering 80-percent average hike in electricity and gas bills from next month, in a dramatic worsening of the cost-of-living crisis before winter.

“Some of the promises Liz Truss has scattered on the campaign trail may flutter away once she takes office and the cold reality of the monumental crisis the government faces becomes clear,” noted Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

– Energy –

A photograph taken on April 24, 2022 shows an aerial view of the Fawley Refinery (rear), the biggest oils refinery in the UK processing 16 million tonnes per year, in Fawley, south England. Fawley Refinery is owned by Esso Petroleum Company Limited, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

 

Truss, 47, has backed the UK’s ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

She favours all-out investment in energy including controversial fracking technology where it is backed by locals.

Truss also wants more energy to come from the North Sea and backs current UK government policy on investment in nuclear power and renewables.

Boris Johnson last week pledged £700 million ($815 million) in funding for the new Sizewell C nuclear power station, as he prepared to hand over power as UK prime minister and Conservative party leader.

Sizewell C in eastern England is expected to be constructed in partnership with French energy firm EDF and could power the equivalent of about six million homes.

The UK is seeking to safeguard energy security after key producer Russia sent prices rocketing with its invasion of Ukraine.

– Brexit –

Anti-Brexit and anti-Conservative government protests demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), opposite the Houses of Parliament in London on July, 13, 2022. Britain’s ruling Conservative party was Wednesday to winnow down the eight candidates vying to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid growing acrimony over alleged dirty tricks. (Photo by CARLOS JASSO / AFP)

 

Truss backed remaining in the European Union before the 2016 referendum on membership of the bloc, switching sides after the public voted to leave.

Now unashamedly pro-Brexit, she has spearheaded proposed legislation to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol the UK signed with the EU governing current trade in the province.

She has promised to take all EU law off the UK statute book to help “turbocharge” growth.

Truss has made no proposals to address chronic post-Brexit labour shortages in the UK, particularly of seasonal workers.

– Financial regulation –

Truss has called for an overhaul of regulators in the City of London financial district.

Notably she wants to merge the Financial Conduct Authority, the Prudential Regulation Authority which oversees banks and is part of the Bank of England, and the Payment Systems Regulator.

Truss has been critical of the BoE’s response to rising inflation and has proposed examining the statute that gave it operational independence over monetary policy in 1997.

Governor Andrew Bailey has noted in response that the UK’s financial credibility was dependent on the bank’s independence from government.

In a bid to cool soaring global inflation, the BoE and other major central banks have hiked interest rates several times this year.

Conservatives Set To Reveal UK’s New Prime Minister – Truss or Sunak

In this file photo taken on August 31, 2022 Rishi Sunak, Britain's former Chancellor of the Exchequerm (L) and Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the final two contenders to become the country's next Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party, stand together on stage during the final Conservative Party Hustings event at Wembley Arena, in London. (Photo by Susannah Ireland / AFP)
In this file photo taken on August 31, 2022 Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former Chancellor of the Exchequerm (L) and Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the final two contenders to become the country’s next Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party, stand together on stage during the final Conservative Party Hustings event at Wembley Arena, in London. (Photo by Susannah Ireland / AFP)

 

The next British prime minister will be announced Monday with Liz Truss the favourite to succeed Boris Johnson and take charge as the nation battles a spiralling cost-of-living crisis.

The result will be unveiled at 12:30 pm (1130 GMT), after foreign minister Truss and her rival, former finance minister Rishi Sunak, spent the summer rallying support among Conservative Party members who cast the final vote.

If she wins, Truss will become the UK’s third female prime minister following Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher.

The 47-year-old has consistently led 42-year-old Sunak in polling among the estimated 200,000 Tory members eligible to vote.

The leadership contest began in July after Johnson announced his departure following a slew of scandals and resignations from his government.

Postal and online voting closed Friday after eight weeks of campaigning that Truss described to the BBC as “the longest job interview in history”.

Truss told the Daily Mail that as prime minister she would “do everything in my power to make sure everyone, no matter where they are from, has the opportunity to go as far as their talent and hard work takes them”.

However, she faces a tough task in winning over general public opinion.

A YouGov poll in late August found 52 percent thought Truss would make a “poor” or “terrible” prime minister.

Forty-three percent said they did not trust her “at all” to deal with the burning issue of the rise in the cost of living.

‘Worst in-tray’

Whoever emerges as winner faces “the worst in-tray for a new prime minister since Thatcher”, The Sunday Times wrote.

The UK is gripped by its worst cost-of-living crisis in generations, with inflation soaring into double digits and energy prices shooting up on the back of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Millions say that with bills set to rise by 80 percent from October — and even higher from January — they face a painful choice between eating and heating this winter, according to surveys.

“If I’m elected prime minister, I will act immediately on bills and on energy supply,” Truss told the BBC on Sunday, while declining to go into details.

British newspapers, including the Times and Daily Telegraph, reported Monday that she was considering freezing energy bills for consumers, with the government reimbursing suppliers.

Truss has campaigned on a promise to slash taxes and prioritise economic growth, with Britain tipped to enter recession later this year.

She said Sunday she would “within a month present a full plan for how we are going to reduce taxes” and “get the British economy going”.

Sunak has vowed further government support to help people pay their energy bills and said curbing inflation would be his priority, attacking Truss’s tax-slashing plans as reckless.

“We shouldn’t rule anything out. I mean, we’re facing a genuine emergency. I think anyone pretending that that isn’t the situation isn’t being straight with the country,” he told the BBC on Sunday.

Polls show public support for an early general election and the Conservatives face a growing challenge to retain their 12-year grip on power.

Truss became foreign minister a year ago after holding a series of ministerial posts in departments including education, international trade and justice.

She began her political journey as a teenage member of the centrist Liberal Democrats before switching to the right-wing Conservatives.

In 2016, she campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union but quickly switched allegiance when Britons backed Brexit.

Her dress sense and love of photo opportunities — posing in a tank in Estonia and wearing a fur hat in Moscow — have earned her comparisons to Tory icon Thatcher.

Her sometimes stiff style has become visibly more relaxed and allies have sought to soften her image, revealing her love of karaoke and socialising.

Highland ceremony

The announcement Monday by Conservative Party officials of who will take over the leadership sets in motion a chain of events.

On Tuesday, Johnson will deliver a farewell speech at Downing Street.

He will then formally tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II, and she will appoint his successor in a so-called kissing of hands ceremony.

For the first time in her reign, the 96-year-old monarch will appoint the prime minister at her Scottish retreat, Balmoral, rather than at Buckingham Palace in London.

This comes as the queen has suffered mobility problems and been forced to cancel a number of public engagements.

The next prime minister will be the 15th since the queen took the throne.”

 

AFP

Experienced Truss Favourite To Be Next UK PM

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss takes part in a Conservative Party Hustings event in Birmingham, on August 23, 2022. (Photo by Geoff Caddick / AFP)

 

Liz Truss has emerged as the clear favourite to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the ruling Conservative party and UK prime minister, using her political experience to pull ahead of challenger Rishi Sunak.

Sunak helped to spark the contest after resigning in opposition to a series of government scandals, prompting others to follow and Johnson to step down.

But although considered a better public speaker, he has come under fire for clinging to fiscal orthodoxy to tackle the economic crisis and hamstrung by his image as a wealthy technocrat.

Sunak, who would become Britain’s first prime minister of colour, has also faced accusations of treachery for bringing down the Tories’ Brexit hero Johnson.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (C) poses for a photograph at Artemis Technologies in Belfast Harbour, Belfast.  AFP

 

Truss meanwhile has doggedly hammered home a direct and consistent message, promising massive tax cuts, and has shied away from criticising Johnson.

“She’s a better politician,” said John Curtice, a political scientist at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

“If you ask me what Liz Truss’s campaign was about I will immediately say to you: ‘a tax cut not a handout’. Very clear,” he told AFP.

“There is no strapline for Sunak, nothing.”

For Curtice, Truss has effectively conveyed “traditional Conservative messages” to Tory members while Sunak has been more nuanced.

“It’s also a bit of a lecture,” he said, assessing that he has come across as “a wee bit brittle” under pressure.

“You can see that she’s been in the game for longer,” he added.

Political journey

Truss, 47, has described her ascent towards the top of British politics as a “journey” that has seen her criticised for being ambitiously opportunistic.

She comes from a left-wing family and initially joined the centrist Liberal Democrats before jumping ship to the right-wing Conservatives.

She became MP for the South West Norfolk constituency in eastern England in 2010, surviving revelations of an affair that almost cost her the nomination.

Since 2012 she has held a series of ministerial posts in the education, finance and departments as well as a difficult spell in justice.

In 2016, she campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union but quickly became one of its strongest supporters when Britons voted for Brexit.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (C) poses for a group photograph in Liverpool, northwest England.  AFP

 

When the UK left the EU, Johnson put her in charge of negotiating new free trade deals before appointing her as foreign secretary last year.

In the role, she took on the controversial task of trying to overhaul differences with Brussels about post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland.

Like Johnson, she has talked tough on Russia and given unswerving backing for Ukraine.

Truss’s dress sense and photo opportunities — posing in a tank in Estonia and wearing a fur hat in Moscow — have earned her comparisons to Tory icon Margaret Thatcher.

Her sometimes stiff style has become visibly more relaxed and allies have sought to soften her image, revealing her love of karaoke and socialising.

 Establishment elite?

“For a party that’s gone in quite a populist direction in recent years, she’s been able to present herself as more authentic, more ordinary than Rishi Sunak, who is all too easily presented as part of the global elite,” said Tim Bale, from Queen Mary University of London.

“Like Boris Johnson, she is keen on the idea that there is some kind of elite that has to be countered and she sets herself up as being outside the establishment, despite having been in government for eight years.”

Sunak, 42, the grandson of Indian immigrants, grew up as the son of a doctor and a pharmacist in Southampton, on England’s south coast.

He attended the prestigious fee-paying Winchester College school, then Oxford University.

Truss, who went to a state school in Leeds, northern England, also studied at Oxford. Both studied politics, philosophy and economics.

Sunak met his wife, Akshata Murty, whose father founded the Indian tech giant Infosys, at US university Stanford before jobs at Goldman Sachs and investment funds.

He has represented the constituency of Richmond in northern England since 2015, where he was soon marked out as a potential future prime minister.

He became finance minister in early 2020, quickly winning plaudits for spearheading government support to people and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Sunak, a self-confessed geek with a love of Star Wars, saw opinion turn against him this year, after it emerged that his wife did not pay UK tax.

Critics have also used his private wealth, expensive clothes and houses to portray him as out of touch with the ordinary public.

AFP

Decolonizing Ignorance and Stereotypes: A Review of Burying The Ghosts of Dead Narratives

Soonest_Nathaniel_Burying the Ghosts of Dead Narratives

 

By Paul Liam

The concept of decolonization in African literature is rooted in the attempt by pioneer modern African poets and scholars to decolonize the minds of Africans against the background of the barbaric narratives of European exploiters and colonizers who painted the continent as a jungle of apes and barbarians lacking in civilization.

African poets, therefore, sought to reeducate Africans about their histories, cultures, and traditions as a way of helping them to regain their lost self-esteem and humanity. They did this through poetry, fiction, drama, and criticism. This ideological drive was heralded by the African literary philosophy known as Negritude.

The consumption of the negative narratives on Africa by European and western readers ensued in the establishment of a permanent false image of Africa and Africans in their consciousness and sub-consciousness, as a people without civilization and humanity.

Several years after colonialism, the story hasn’t changed much as Africans are still considered second-class humans by Europeans and Westerners despite the fact that their ancestors claimed to have brought civilization to Africa against the historical evidence of Africa’s rich civilization and epistemology, they have perpetually been unable to unlearn the false histories they were nurtured with.

Several decades and centuries after their offsprings continue to interact with Africa within that narrow prism created by those racist and Eurocentric travelogues and narratives.

Well, we cannot deny the legacies of debasement, exploitation, and continuing imperialism by European and western establishments in Africa.

African poets like Gabriel Okara, Christopher Okigbo, Wole Soyinka, Leopold Sengor,OusmaneSembène,Abioseh Nicol, Kwesi Brew, Frank Parkes, John Pepper Clark, Lenrie Peters, George Awoonor Williams (Kofi Awoonor), Mbella Sonne Dipoko, Michael J.C. Echeruo, and OkogbuliWonodi and several others employed the instrumentality of poetry in conscientising Africans to take pride in their Africanness and liberate themselves from the clog of mental slavery occasioned by colonialism.

Consequently, Soonest Nathaniel has returned to that literary tradition with his collection, Burying the Ghost of Dead Narratives, in an ambitious attempt to decolonize the minds of his readers, but his readers this time around are not Africans or Nigerians, but Europeans and Westerners, many of whose perception of Africa and Africans is shrouded in deep ignorance and stereotypes harvested from a backlog of warp colonial history.

It is paradoxical that this decolonization project is enabled by Britain, through the British Council. Cultural exchange programmes and dialogue are key in the pursuit of intercultural relations and dialogue, especially in a world that has become a ‘global village’.

Soonest Nathaniel’s collection is an exemplifier of the functional use of art and in particular, poetry as an instrument of socio-cultural appropriation and dialogue.

The collection does not hide its intention to educate an external audience about Africa and in many instances, about Nigeria. The exogenous motif of the collection is telling of the underlining ideology behind the poems.

Using a didactic and prosaic style which is synonymous with all literature with an agenda to instruct, he teaches his audience about Africa, sometimes using satire and humor to conceal the gravity of his messages.

Central to the messages in the collection is the notion of the single story that westerners have of Nigeria and Africa in general. In Burying The Ghost of Dead Narratives, we encounter subtle yet lacerating derision of the ignorance of westerners of Nigeria and Africa at different levels in a postmodern world.

Thus, this collection is solid in its objective of debunking the perversion that emanates from stereotypes in a sense akin to what ChimamandaNgoziAdichie regards as the ‘danger of a single story’.

Single stories all over the world are products of limited consciousness enabled by ignorance and sometimes the unwillingness to unlearn prejudices that fuel ignorance and stereotypes.

Understandably, unlearning can be difficult as it humbles and puts the individual in an uncomfortable position of having toadmit either to themselves or to others of their weaknesses. So, how do you teach an unwilling learner about your country and people?

Nathaniel tells us to invoke metaphors whether dead or alive to renegotiate our perception of each other particularly through new narratives that speak to our shared values and humanity.

Soonest Nathaniel is one of Nigeria's leading poets.
Soonest Nathaniel is one of Nigeria’s leading poets.

 

To bury the ghost of dead narratives implies that we should put aside those stereotypical assumptions that hinder us from fostering genuine friendship and intercultural relations between the continent of Europe and Africa.

Dead narratives have divided us for far too long and to create new narratives of trust and mutual respect, we must tell positive stories about ourselves, our country, and our continent.

This supposition is corroborated by many of the poems in the collection. For example, in the poem, “Africa is Not a Country”(p.15) the poetic persona attempts to debunk the stereotypes about Africa when he says in the first stanza that,

Africa is not a country at the edge of old stories

Lingering between exploitation and aid.

Not a slaughterhouse nor a shrine

Where children’s bones are crushed

Into fine powder to be made into potions

In a bid to sate the protein needs of dying fathers.

The poem, aside from debunking the stereotypes about Africa being a country, and AIDS, and diseases and, goes further to illustrate some historical context about the real Africa and its glorious heritage. The fourth stanza of the poem is instructive as it provides deep posers for reflection,

No! she is not poor.

She provides for them all both high and small.

In her barns are roots, tubers, cereals and nuts.

In her banks are diamonds, platinum, gold,

uranium, bauxite, steel, copper

aluminum and coal,

there’s great wealth in the depths of her soul.

There is no favoured approach to understanding

the bondage from which she has risen,

surely, not through coloured-prism

of flattery.

We cannot undo the hours,

but even in the heart of darkness,

her light has found a place to bloom;

let the forbidden conversation find a tribe.

In the poem, “I am the other Nigeria” (10), the persona performs the same duty as in the poem “Africa is Not a Country.” He debunks the stereotypes about Nigeria in a creative way that seeks to appeal to the reader rather than castigate the offenders being addressed in the poem.

He highlights the global feats accomplished by Nigerians indicating that Nigeria and Nigerians are not defined by the stereotypes ascribed to them by the west. The achievements by Nigerians across fields of endeavour is projected as being the real Nigeria.

The poem could be regarded as a patriotic tribute to a country vilified by negative narratives because of the actions of a few citizens in the face of overwhelming evidence of exceptional brilliance and valor.

The first stanza of the poem summarises the functionality and can-do spirit of the Nigerians,

not the one on page 419 of the history book,

but the one in the next chapter where you’re yet to take a look.

The one for who impossibility is forbidden, the fractured frame

still holding immaculate pictures.

The one who knows water can be cruel

and the earth is not always a grave;

the one who understands that local hands can build global brands

and parallel line may meet and agree.

In his collection, Soonest Nathaniel urges us to put aside those stereotypical assumptions that hinder the fostering of new connections for mutual benefits.

 

In the “How to bury the Ghosts of Dead Narratives” (p.29), the persona talks about the need to bury the paste and embrace the new realities staring us in the face. He alludes to the paraphernalia that accompanies physical deaths and burial procession in Nigeria which he opines are not necessary for burying the ghosts of dead narratives.

He instructs on what should be done instead in stanza seven of the poem, he enjoins the mourners not to make light of the trauma in the tales being buried.

There should be poetry and loud music at the wake,

Tell jokes but don’t make light of the trauma

These tales have wreaked.

And in conclusion, in the poem “The New Story”(p.30), the persona in a reflective mood reconciles the past with the present in a bid to find peace and closure, he seeks a new beginning after burying the ghosts of dead narratives. He remarks in the first stanza of the poem thus,

It is not about what your fathers did to us,

nor is it about what our sons did to yours;

it is a chorus chanted

after the rooster regained her voice,

a tale told from the finish line—

where the earth

has annulled her contracts with neglect.

This is a fine collection that speaks to the essential issues of our humanity. We need to talk about them more openly and with the genuine intention to heal and move on. So, let us bury the ghost of dead narratives and weave new narratives of love and humanity.