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Sunak makes Parliament debut as PM, axes more Truss policies

October 29, 2022 00:00:00

UK Parliament, Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons in London on Wednesday — AP

LONDON, Oct 28 (AP): Rishi Sunak faced the opposition in Parliament for the first time as Britain's prime minister Wednesday, promising to restore economic stability after his predecessor's tax plans triggered market tumult.

Sunak ripped up more of predecessor Liz Truss' flagship policies, reinstating a moratorium on fracking for shale gas that Truss had lifted. Plans for large-scale deregulation of the economy, part of Truss' vision to unleash economic growth, are also under review, Sunak's spokeswoman said.

Sunak, who took office Tuesday, has appointed a government that mixes allies with experienced ministers from the administrations of his two immediate predecessors, Truss and Boris Johnson as he tries to tackle Britain's multiple economic problems. One of his first acts was to delay a key economic statement by more than two weeks, until Nov. 17, so the government can use the most accurate possible forecasts as it seeks to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

"We will have to take difficult decisions to restore economic stability and confidence," Sunak told the House of Commons. "We will do this in a fair way."

"I will always protect the most vulnerable. We did it in COVID and we will do it again," he said.

Opposition politicians focused on the baggage his new government carried: ministers from the Cabinets of Johnson - who quit in July after a slew of ethics scandals - and Truss, whose government lasted just seven weeks.

A package of unfunded tax cuts Truss unveiled last month spooked financial markets with the prospect of ballooning debt, drove the pound to record lows and forced the Bank of England to intervene - weakening Britain's fragile economy and obliterating Truss' authority within the Conservative Party.

Sunak is seen by Conservatives as a safe pair of hands they hope can stabilize an economy sliding toward recession - and stem the party's plunging popularity.

Sunak brought in people from different wings of the Conservative Party for his Cabinet. He removed about a dozen members of Truss' government but kept several senior figures in place, including Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

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