Liz Truss Becomes New UK Prime Minister
Liz Truss — a tax-cutting crusader who has modelled herself on Margaret Thatcher and endeared herself to the Conservative Party’s pro-Brexit right wing — has won its leadership election and will take over from Boris Johnson tomorrow as the UK’s new leader.
Britain’s Conservative Party announced on Monday that its members had chosen Liz Truss to replace Boris Johnson as a leader, turning to a hawkish diplomat, party stalwart and free-market champion to govern a country facing the gravest economic crisis in a generation.
Ms. Truss, 47, prevailed over Rishi Sunak, a former chancellor of the Exchequer, whose resignation in July set in motion Mr. Johnson’s messy ouster. Her victory, by a margin of 57.4 percent to 42.6 percent, was widely expected in recent weeks after she took a commanding lead in the polls.
It makes her Britain’s fourth prime minister in six years and the third female leader, after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. Like them, she will be greeted by a fearsome array of problems.
Double-digit inflation, a looming recession, labour unrest, soaring household energy bills and possible fuel shortages this winter — all will confront Ms. Truss as she moves into 10 Downing Street. She also must repair a party deeply divided after Mr. Johnson’s turbulent three-year tenure, which peaked in 2019 with a landslide general election victory but descended into unrelenting scandals after that.
“I campaigned as a Conservative, and I will govern as a Conservative,” Ms. Truss told a party gathering in a businesslike speech after her victory was announced. “I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy,” she added. “Dealing with people’s energy bills but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply.”
Ms. Truss, who served in Mr. Johnson’s cabinet and was not part of the Tory rebellion that led to his departure, will formally assume the prime minister’s title on Tuesday in a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where the queen is vacationing. Mr. Johnson will bid farewell to the monarch just before that, drawing a curtain, at least for now, on his career as a frontline politician.
Ms. Truss, who was most recently foreign secretary, emerged from a crowded field of eight candidates by appealing to party members with a single-minded message of tax cuts and smaller government. These are reliable Tory party touchstones, but some economists said her proposals would do little to solve Britain’s problems, and could even worsen them.
Once the field narrowed to two candidates, Ms. Truss never relinquished her lead over Mr. Sunak. He would have made the history of his own if he had won, becoming the first nonwhite prime minister in British history.
The incoming UK prime minister has promised a “bold plan” to cut taxes and said she will address spiralling energy prices that are driving a cost-of-living crisis in the country.
But Liz Truss offered no details of what either plan will involve; throughout her campaign, her critics, including opponent Rishi Sunak, have pushed her to detail her next steps, with households facing another spike in costs next month.
“I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy,” Truss said. “I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills.”