However, while presenting her plan to help Britons cope with high energy costs to Parliament last Thursday, Truss first discovered that doctors were concerned about the Queen’s health and recommended medical supervision. Hours later, Buckingham Palace announced that the king had died.
From that moment on, British politics – which had been in a near-permanent state of chaos and crisis since around 2016.
All the personal, tribal attacks and bitterness that have characterized the British political landscape since the 2016 Brexit referendum have all but disappeared. Politics is largely united in its mourning for Her Majesty the late Queen and the idea of things returning to normal after the national mourning period ends next week seems paradoxical.
In the past few years, conservative newspapers have labeled judges “enemies of the people” for their opposition to Brexit. Johnson accused opposition leader Keir Starmer of being responsible for the decision not to prosecute notorious pedophiles during his tenure as England’s attorney general; On numerous occasions, lawmakers have been expelled from Parliament for directly calling the Prime Minister a liar.
The death of the queen created a window that could not have been built artificially. A moment in history that demanded restraint from Britain’s ruling classes could provide the country with a welcome reset in its political rhetoric.
“In the near term, her death disrupted the way the Truss government planned to get up and running,” Catherine Haddon, a fellow at the Institute of Government, told CNN.
“Administrations usually start with key dates and moments in mind. By the first 100 days, they want to have set the tone for government and stamped their authority on politics. Truss’ team may now approach the big speeches about their vision of Britain’s future differently.”
Officials working for the government and the main opposition Labor Party told CNN that this imposed lull may encourage both sides to move away from the kind of aggression that embodied the Johnson years.
“When Johnson was in office, we had to focus on personal matters because he was a morally flawed person, but also because he was always on the offensive,” one of Starmer’s advisers told CNN.
“What I hope will happen is a return to a focus on ideological differences, an area that I think we are still comfortably surmounting,” they added.
Multiple government sources said they also hope this moment will inspire a new, unified approach to political debate, regardless of their personal politics.
They also noted that the pressure on the gears to do its job in an appropriately dignified manner is tremendous. Allies noted that in some ways, Truss would benefit from this period of quiet thinking, as he will be remembered forever as the prime minister who took office just days before the country’s biggest constitutional upheaval in decades.
It is undeniable that the highly complex chain of events following the death of the Queen has unfolded smoothly thus far, and that the pressure valve has opened in politics.
Haddon noted that “those who follow politics with great concern will note that the briefings against opponents have stopped and gossip and politics seem to have completely disappeared.”
But others believe that period may soon be over as the bitter reality of Britain’s harsh winter begins, with families facing high energy bills and rising inflation, exacerbating the country’s cost-of-living crisis.
“Of course, this is a great opportunity for Truss to take a back seat and put some distance between herself and Johnson, but the energy and cost-of-living crises that would have dominated the early days of her prime ministership are not yet gone,” Rob Ford, a professor of politics at the University of Manchester, told CNN. .
He notes that Johnson’s biggest political success – introducing a vaccine in the UK – for which he can claim his personal reward, only bought him for a few months of goodwill before scandals brought him down.
“If this period continues smoothly, it could end up becoming something people remember as quiet, certainly not something that Truss celebrates. If the UK then goes into recession and Labor continues to lead in the polls, politics has a habit of returning to write and Truss will be forced to attack.”
Nearly all of the policy participants who spoke to CNN said they hope this transition period will provide a little room for the temperature to drop. The divisions of the past few years, personal attacks and bad briefings did not make Britain a stronger or more prosperous country.
To take one example of how hateful rhetoric has shifted, during the Conservative Party leadership contest to replace Johnson, then-cabinet member Nadine Dorries retweeted a fake photo of Rishi Sunak, Truss’ opponent and former Johnson chancellor, stabbing Johnson. .
It should be noted that since 2016, two MPs were killed in the line of duty while meeting their local constituents. Any decent elected official should think twice before posting such a photo.
Britain has certainly been a calmer and more reflective place in the past week. It is difficult to predict whether this translates into a permanent change in the nature of political discourse. But it surely would not be a bad thing if everyone involved in British politics took a moment to reflect on the purpose of democracy, and was inspired by the dignity shown last week by the people they are meant to serve.
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