Liz Truss, lettuce, and our troubled political economy

Yesterday, the current government’s continuing melodrama entered a new chapter as Liz Truss resigned after just 45 days as prime minister.

Truss’ resignation makes her the shortest serving prime minister in UK history, overtaking George Canning who died of pneumonia just 119 days into office. It also means we are now going to have a fifth Conservative prime minister in six years – a far cry from the “strong and stable” promises of Theresa May in 2017.

I admit I have enjoyed reading some of the political gossip of recent weeks. I have also enjoyed the endless supply of puns and gags on social media, most notably the famous Daily Star lettuce that somehow managed to outlast Liz Truss’ premiership. I suppose it is a small sign of maturity that nobody asked the lettuce if it voted Leaf or Romaine….

However, it is hugely important to stress that this is not a game. The constant chopping and changing within Tory ranks is having serious consequences for British people who are having to tackle enormous challenges this winter.

It is also having an effect on our industry.

A new prime minister is likely to mean yet another new cabinet and therefore a new set of faces in key policy departments. In the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, for example, we could see our eighth housing minister in five years.

Progress on key issues like housing requires stability and long-term planning.  However, this is near impossible when the government is in a constant state of political transition and in-fighting.

This instability is also bad for the market. As we saw with Liz Truss’ recent mini-budget, the market is highly reactive to political change in this country. This volatility is hurting our members, who are now having to import timber at higher prices due to a weakened sterling and facing lower demand due to slower newbuild and RMI markets.

On behalf of the timber industry, I call on the next prime minister to provide stability. Political stability is paramount if we are to achieve our environmental and economic goals and this constant uncertainty risks unravelling the crucial progress we have made in decarbonising our built environment over the last decade.

Regardless of who the next prime minister is, our policy team will continue to work tirelessly to spread timber’s sustainable message and ensure members are up to date with key policy matters.

Have a great weekend all.