World politicians and media react to Truss departure

Liz Truss meets Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “sad to see a colleague go”

News of Liz Truss’s resignation on Thursday has generated significant reaction from the world’s political leaders and media commentators.

Many editorials focus on Ms Truss’s brief and chaotic time in office – while others speculate on what her departure means for British foreign and trade policies.

Among foreign politicians, France’s President Emmanuel Macron said that on a personal level, he was always “sad to see a colleague go”, but that the most important thing was for Britain to find stability.

White House reporters asked US President Joe Biden whether Ms Truss had made the right decision. He replied it was her decision to make, adding that he wouldn’t “weigh in on her judgment”.

In an earlier statement, Mr Biden said close relations with the UK would continue, and thanked Ms Truss for her partnership on issues including “holding Russia accountable for its war against Ukraine”.

Dymtro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, said Ms Truss’s exit had been dramatic, but voiced his confidence that British support for Kyiv would not drop.

The Ukrainian government was reported in the British press to have tweeted – and then deleted – a post reading “better call Boris”, in an apparent endorsement of any bid by the former PM to win back Tory leadership.

There was little sympathy for Ms Truss from Russia. Its foreign ministry spokeswoman said the UK had “never known such a disgrace of a prime minister”.

Other nations questioned what the news would mean for post-Brexit trading arrangements that had been under discussion with Ms Truss, a former international trade secretary.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was “concerned” that the turmoil could scupper a deal between the two nations which had been finalised, though not yet ratified.

Calling attention to the UK’s rapidly changing leadership, he said: “I’ve been in office for five months. I’ve met the two British prime ministers, so far, and I obviously will have contact with a third.”

And there are similar concerns in India. “Truss’s exit catapults the India-UK free trade deal in a zone of uncertainty”, writes India’s NDTV, quoting an Indian commerce minister as saying he would “wait and see” what happened next.

‘Political death spiral’

The Daily Star’s longevity competition between Ms Truss and a lettuce appears to have cut through to international audiences: “Her agenda had floundered, her own party had turned on her and commentators widely speculated on whether she could outlast a head of lettuce. She couldn’ t,” wrote the New York Times.

Even the Russian politician Dmitry Medvedev – a close ally of President Vladimir Putin – referenced the feature, bidding a sarcastic farewell to Ms Truss on Twittersaying: “Bye, bye @trussliz, congrats to lettuce.”

The Washington Post summed up the prime minister’s end: “A disastrous series of self-inflicted wounds – which turned into a political death spiral – began with a misfired attempt by the Conservative leader to radically reorient the government’s economic agenda by slashing taxes without saying how the move would be paid for. The markets responded badly, and Truss never recovered.”

Canada’s Globe and Mail wrote: “On Wednesday, she lost the second of the government’s four most senior ministers, faced laughter as she tried to defend her record to parliament and saw her lawmakers openly quarrel over policy, deepening the sense of chaos at Westminster. “

Chinese commentators took aim at the six-week prime minister. The China News Service said Ms Truss had proved to be not an Iron Lady, but a paper one – a reference to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The prominent former editor of the Global Times said Ms Truss had been “insolent and unreasonable” with her tough stance towards Beijing.

The Sydney Morning Herald was scathing, saying “the debacle highlights a worrying trend evident in many Western democracies – the rise of politicians ill-prepared and ill-suited to high office”.

Nigeria’s Premium Times said Ms Truss’s botched mini-budget had caused “financial turmoil”. And the London correspondent of Brazil’s GloboNews described the situation in the UK as “utter turbulence, chaos on all fronts, a government in intensive care”, while in Argentina, La Nación told of a “crisis in Great Britain”.

Descent into hell

In Europe, The Irish Times pulled no punches in describing “a low moment in the history of British politics”.

“Whatever emerges in the next week, the mother of parliaments has been reduced to a bad joke, its constitution a laughing stock,” it said, later adding: “A prime minister is normally supposed to stand for something. Truss in Downing Street today stood for nothing.”

Meanwhile, Irish leader Micheál Martin called for stability in the UK, saying: “We would like to see the UK system… to be in a position to have a successor selected as quickly as possible.”

France’s Le Figaro described Liz Truss’s “descent into hell”. It wrote: “She will go down as the most short-lived prime minister in contemporary history, with just 44 days in office during which she deepened the economic hardship of millions of Britons, weakened her country’s image internationally and depleted what was left of unity in a conservative party weakened after 12 years in power.”

Spanish newspaper El Pais was particularly blunt. “She had become a prime minister devoid of content, without a program to defend, incapable of effectively communicating the work of the government and completely at odds with her parliamentary group.”

“The fiasco of Wednesday’s vote on a booby-trapped motion by the Labor opposition made matters worse. Shaking, shoving and shouting among Tory MPs , forced to vote against their will on an issue as controversial as fracking to show their loyalty to a government that was falling apart minute by minute.”

Commentators in Italy playfully compared the situation to repeat changes of government in their own country. “Great Britain seems to have fallen into a political instability worthy of the Roman theater that we know well,” read an editorial in Corriere Della Sera.

In Germany, the tabloid Bild described the situation as a “Brit-quake”, adding that the “head of lettuce is having a big party now”, in another reference to the Daily Star.

‘I was happy with how we were working’

Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s outspoken and first-ever left-wing president, suggested that Ms Truss’s demise was sparked by attempts to reduce taxes on the richest, adding that it was a lesson to leaders around the world.

Meanwhile, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte was another world leader to call for stability and a quick resolution to the leadership contest.

“Personally I was very happy with the way we were working together,” he said of Ms Truss.

In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he thought Ms Truss had taken an “old-fashioned” approach to the economic crisis in lowering taxes and cutting welfare policies.

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