The government crisis in London, which has been smoldering for weeks, worsened considerably yesterday. After Prime Minister Liz Truss defied Question Time in Parliament and refused to resign, the situation seemed to get out of control in the evening.
First, the conservative head of government lost her second cabinet member within days with the probably forced resignation of Interior Minister Suella Braverman. There were later reports that part of the group leadership had resigned after the government initially declared a parliamentary vote a vote of confidence but backtracked at the last minute.
Only six weeks in office
The situation for Truss seems to be considerably worse than the day before. The 47-year-old, who has only been in office for six weeks, is fighting for office after she triggered financial chaos with planned tax breaks and had to make an about-face.
The evening vote scheduled by the opposition Labor Party went haywire. Although Labor's motion was defeated by a large majority, many Conservative MPs are said to have been extremely reluctant to vote against the proposal to introduce legislation to ban fracking. There were also quite a few abstentions.
According to consistent reports, Chief Whip Wendy Morton and her deputy Craig Whittaker initially resigned out of frustration at the government's about-face on whether the vote counted as a vote of confidence. Downing Street, the seat of government, later announced that both were still in office.
Labor MP Chris Bryant and other members of the opposition also accused Conservative MPs of being pushed in a certain direction, sometimes with shouts and shoves, and that they were not able to vote freely and unhindered.
In the conservative faction, nerves are stretched to breaking point. The chaos cast "a pathetic light on the Conservative Party and the current government in every respect," MP Charles Walker told the BBC. There is no turning back from this situation, in his 17 years in Parliament he has never seen anything comparable. "It's a mess and a disgrace. I'm incredibly shocked, I'm angry," said Walker.
Only last Friday, Truss fired her Treasury Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, and replaced her with former Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt. On Monday, Hunt reversed almost all elements of its tax policy, which was only announced at the end of September. He announced that the energy price cap, which was actually intended for two years, would be limited to six months. Truss transferred Braverman's post to ex-Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is also considered to be experienced. But it is questionable whether she can save her office with this.
"I'm a fighter and not a slacker," Truss had called out in parliament at noon when she was put under considerable pressure by the opposition because of the financial chaos and called for her resignation. She earned fierce ridicule and malice from the opposition benches.
Braverman expresses 'major concerns'
More criticism came later in Braverman's resignation letter. Important promises to voters have been broken, and she also has "great concerns about this administration's commitment to our election platform, such as limiting the total number of immigrants and stopping illegal migration, particularly the dangerous boat crossings," Braverman wrote.
The former interior minister belongs to the extreme right wing of the party. She repeatedly made a name for herself with statements about her plans for tougher procedures in the case of deportations. She recently railed against "tofu-eating" leftists in parliament.
Braverman gave "a technical breach" of confidentiality rules as the reason for her resignation. She forwarded an official document from her personal email address to a "trusted parliamentary colleague," Braverman wrote. Much of it was already known, but it was "right for me to go". She is now expected to work against Truss from the back benches. In reply to the letter of resignation, Truss said it was important to respect confidentiality within the Cabinet.