Inflation at its highest, the pound sterling at its lowest, worries about the approach of winter... The new Conservative government of Liz Truss had promised immediate action to deal with the crisis, but the announcement last week of massive tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest has aroused more anger and incomprehension than anything else.
“Support the strikes”, “Freeze prices, not people” or even “Taxes for the rich”, could be read on the signs held up by demonstrators in London, who converged at the call of several organizations towards Westminster , in the center of the capital.
People are "fed up," says Lily Holder, a 29-year-old protester in London. "They are no longer ready to accept the shameful way the Tories treat them." The winter - which promises to be harsh for many households struggling to pay their bills - "will show the real cruelty of our government", according to her.
- "No other option" -
The majority of Britons coldly welcomed the "mini-budget" presented by the government last week. The announcements also panicked the markets and sent the pound sterling to an all-time low, prompting intervention by the International Monetary Fund and the central bank.
But "doing nothing was not an option," said Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng in the Telegraph on Friday evening to justify the massive tax cuts, the financing of which remains unclear.
"Imagine the cost to the UK economy of mass unemployment, a collapse in consumption and businesses going out of business," he said.
Mr Kwarteng has promised a plan to reduce debt over the medium term but the rating agency Standard
In the meantime, to the incomprehension of the markets is now added the anger of the British. According to a recent YouGov poll, more than half (51%) of the population believe that Prime Minister Liz Truss, in office for less than a month, should resign.
Often strangled by inflation that is close to 10% and worried about whether they will be able to warm themselves or repay their loans this winter, some refuse to pay their bills in October. The government has announced a freeze on energy price ceilings, but prices have nevertheless doubled in one year.
"Can't pay, won't pay," chanted protesters outside London's King's Cross station on Saturday, burning fake energy bills.
In this context of exacerbated social discontent, the mobilizations which have multiplied since June in all sectors have resumed with renewed vigor, after a truce observed after the death of Elizabeth II on September 8.
Railway workers are on strike - the largest since the beginning of the year - on Saturday across the country, with only 11% of traffic assured.
Despite the severe disruption, the mobilization of rail is understood and supported by most Britons, according to an Ipsos poll. On the streets of London as in other cities in the United Kingdom, many demonstrators held up posters calling for support for the walkouts.
Taking part in the protests, climate activists from the group 'Just Stop Oil' blocked several London bridges, demanding the Conservative government 'solve the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis by halting new investment in oil and gas," according to a statement from the organization.
More unpopular than ever, the Tories meet from Sunday in Birmingham for their annual congress. But given the context, this high mass promises to be gloomy.
According to the British press, letters of defiance are already pouring in against Liz Truss. Some Tories are stunned by fuzzy budget announcements she made while others already miss former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, despite his antics and lies.