The end of the national mourning period following the Queen’s death also marks the end of something of a grace period for Liz Truss’ premiership. The new Prime Minister had barely finished her first major announcement before parliamentary business was put on hold and the royal family began to dominate the headlines. But Labour is trying to ensure a swift return to reality for Truss. On Monday, Pat McFadden reiterated the opposition’s key criticism of Truss’ energy bills plan – that paying for it through borrowing will mean working people are “left paying the bill for years to come”. The Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury argued that the proposal was a further example of the Tories’ failure on the economy, describing it as “just another zigzag in the record of low growth over which they have presided”.
Labour has also come out swinging on the government’s approach to foreign policy. David Lammy slammed the Tories’ record, declaring: “12 years of Conservative governments making diplomatic gaffes, announcing plans to break international law, failing to live up to promises on climate action and cutting international aid have damaged relations with the US and left Britain isolated on the global stage.” The Shadow Foreign Secretary demanded that the Prime Minister use her visit to the United Nations General Assembly this week to “bring the UK back in from the cold and begin rebuilding our country’s diplomatic influence”.
Not to be outdone by his frontbench colleagues, Nick Thomas-Symonds went in on Truss over her admission that trade talks with the US were unlikely to start in the “medium term”. The Shadow International Trade Secretary stressed that the lack of a trade deal was “costing billions in lost potential trade opportunities and holding back growth”. He added: “There is no doubt that the blame for this mess lies at the door of the Prime Minister, who tarnished the UK’s international reputation as Foreign and International Trade Secretary. This is an embarrassment for Liz Truss.”
With such a brief window before conference season gets underway, Labour has to act quickly to reapply pressure on the government and derail any attempt at a reset under the new Tory leader. Polling last week suggested that Truss had not yet brought the party a ‘new-leader bounce’. But given that she had just three days between her election and the Queen’s death, a Tory bump in the polls remains a very real possibility.
In internal Labour news, voting closes on Thursday in the election of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) local government representatives. Eligible members of the association of Labour councillors, which includes all elected Labour councillors, have been voting for their preferred candidates to fill the two available slots on the NEC. They are choosing between Momentum-backed candidates Aneesa Akbar and Matt White – and Nesil Caliskan and Tudor Evans, who have been endorsed by Labour to Win. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.