Liz Truss named next UK PM, leader of Conservative Party

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LONDON — Liz Truss will become Britain’s next prime minister, succeeding Boris Johnson at a time of economic peril and political upheaval in the UK.

Truss, the 47-year-old British foreign secretary, has won her party’s grassroots support with promises of tax cuts and with her loyalty to Johnson, who was kicked out of Downing Street by Tory lawmakers but which is already missing at the base. party members.

She will travel to Scotland on Tuesday to be nominated by Queen Elizabeth II, then enter 10 Downing Street as the third woman to serve as British Prime Minister.

Truss is much less colorful, less wordy than its old backslapping boss – maybe in a good way. Johnson was ousted by his own party lawmakers because he could not, even under pressure, tell the whole truth during a series of scandals.

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss promised a “bold plan” on September 5 to cut taxes, grow the economy and “address the energy crisis”. (Video: AP)

Truss was not the first choice of Conservative Party lawmakers, and a majority of Britons tell pollsters she will be a ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ prime minister, but she was the favorite among Tory activists who chose the leader of their party and Britain in a vote announced on Monday.

In a brief speech accepting party leadership, Truss remained loyal and gave Johnson props. “Boris, you got Brexit done, you got crushed [Labour Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn, you launched the vaccine and stood up to Vladimir Putin. You are admired from Kyiv to Carlisle,” she said, referring to a small town in northern England.

At one point during the five-minute speech, Truss read in a monotonous tone: ‘We will deliver, we will deliver, we will deliver’ – to applause from members of his party. Commentators often declare his eloquence “wooden”. Although she’s an optimist like Johnson, she doesn’t like the fist or the metaphor he’s known for.

Challenger Rishi Sunak – although the preferred choice of Tory MPs – struggled to convince his party’s voters that tackling inflation should come before tax cuts. And Sunak’s starring role in ousting Johnson seemed to hurt him to the core. Angry Tories called him “Brutus”.

Who is Liz Truss, a shape-shifter set to become Britain’s next prime minister?

It was Sunak’s fiery departure as Chancellor of the Exchequer, or finance minister, in July that sparked the revolt against Johnson. A flurry of resignations followed. Conservative Party lawmakers said they could no longer trust a prime minister who dithered on scandal after scandal (and could no longer be counted on to win an election).

Because it was not a general election, most of Britain sat on the sidelines while an ‘electorate’ of 172,437 paying Conservative Party members – less than 0.3% of population – determined the political future of the country.

Truss won with 81,326 votes, ahead of Sunak’s 60,399.

According to a YouGov poll, 12% of the general public say Truss will be a good or great prime minister, compared to 52% who say she will be bad or terrible.

Besides the war in Ukraine and the fallout from Brexit, the new prime minister will inherit a wide range of economic and political problems. The Bank of England predicts that Britain will suffer a prolonged recession, starting as early as October. Inflation is already at 10%, with economists warning that 15% is possible.

In her victory speech, Truss pledged to “present a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy.”

The British public is alarmed by soaring gas and electricity bills, an issue that will dominate Truss’ national agenda from day one, wiping out the honeymoon period often given to new leaders. Truss promised to help with those bills – but she didn’t say how.

Other pressing challenges include threats of industrial action, lingering questions over Scottish independence and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which could put it on an early collision course with Europe.

In a Sunday Telegraph opinion piece, Truss described Britain as stuck with low productivity, high taxes, over-regulation and an inability to do great things. “We will break with the same old tax and spending approach by focusing on growth and investment,” she said. She complained of the “heaviest tax burden in 70 years”. She said it was outrageous that no new water reservoirs or nuclear power stations had been built in a quarter of a century.

The disconnect in her words was noted by her critics, who pointed out that Truss had not mentioned that her party had been in power for 12 years – and that she had been in cabinet since 2012 – so those issues were the deeds. conservatives.

Leader of the Labor Opposition Keir Starmer tweeted“I would like to congratulate our incoming Premier Liz Truss as she prepares to take office. But after 12 years as Tories, all we have to show are low wages, high prices and a Tory cost of living crisis. Only the Labor Party can provide the fresh start our country needs. »

On the specifics, it’s hard to know what to expect from Truss, as she didn’t reveal any details. She is a transformed politician. She was a centrist liberal Democrat in her youth before joining the Conservative Party; she pleaded for the abolition of the monarchy before asserting her support for it; and she voted for Britain to stay in the European Union before becoming a hard-core Brexiteer.

As foreign minister, she was a reliable NATO ally and supporter of Ukraine, speaking harshly to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. She led the charge on sanctioning the oligarchs – many of whom had lived the high life in London.

Ahead of Truss’s announcement as prime minister, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia expected no improvement in relations with Britain regardless of who was elected because the two candidates had “obviously competed in anti-Russian rhetoric”. He said it was “hard to imagine a worse situation” in the relationship, “but, unfortunately, we cannot rule that out”.

Although unpopular in Moscow, Truss also has few fans in Brussels. EU leaders see her as an agitator, an anti-EU opportunist who could make matters worse in the rocky post-divorce relationship between Britain and the 27-nation bloc.

“She has an outstanding inbox,” said Bronwen Maddox, director of Chatham House, a UK think tank. “In terms of known knowns, what faces him is huge.”

The UK version of Inauguration Day will take place on Tuesday.

Johnson and Truss will travel to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where the Queen is staying.

The Queen’s first meeting with the British Prime Minister will be in Scotland, not at Buckingham Palace

In a private audience, Johnson will bow to the Queen and tender his resignation. Shortly after, in a ceremony known as the “kissing the hands”, Truss will bow or curtsey and ask the Queen for permission to form a new government.

The new prime minister is expected to address the British public in London later today.

It will be the 96-year-old Queen’s 15th Prime Minister.

The UK will also join the small club of nations that have had at least three female heads of government.

In the case of Britain, all of its female leaders – Truss, Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher – hail from the Conservative Party, even though the Conservatives have fewer female legislators than the other major political parties.

Truss has ruled out calling a snap general election to cement his tenure with the British public – as opposed to just Conservative Party activists, who make up a tiny fraction of the population. In her address on Monday, she said: “We will deliver a big win for the Conservative Party in 2024.”

Even among Conservative Party members who voted in the leadership race, Truss’ vote percentage – 57% – was lower than all other Conservative leaders selected this way.

Johnson won a large majority in the December 2019 general election, six months after being named party leader. His predecessor, May, also called a snap election, which lost him a parliamentary majority.

In one of his last acts as Prime Minister, Johnson flew in a Typhoon fighter jet and proclaimed that after “three happy years in the cockpit” he was happy to hand over the “controls seamlessly to someone else”.

What future for Boris Johnson? Books, chronicles, speeches, a return?

On Monday, Johnson tweeted his congratulations to Truss and his “decisive win.” It was hidden in a Twitter feed which began with a boast of his own accomplishments.

Many say Johnson will attempt a comeback.

Robyn Dixon in Riga, Latvia contributed to this report.

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