UNITED KINGDOM: British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss was named as the country’s next Prime Minister on Monday, winning a leadership race for the governing Conservative Party as the country battles rising household costs, a fuel shortage, industrial unrest and a recession.
After plunging headlong into weeks of embittered and vitriolic debates in a divisive leadership contest with former Finance minister Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss emerged victorious in a vote of Conservative Party members.
The declaration triggers the start of a new administration with a new change of mind, ever since Boris Johnson was forced to submit his resignation in mid-July when months of scandalous reports led to his waning support.
Johnson is set to travel to Scotland to meet the Queen on Tuesday to tender his resignation for good officially. Liz Truss will follow him and, per constitutional protocol, be asked to form a government by the monarch.
Following in the footsteps of her predecessor Boris Johnson, Liz Truss will become the Conservative’s fourth prime minister since a 2015 election.
Over that period, the country has suffered a series of dire challenges, which have now amounted to a projected long recession triggered by sky-rocketing inflation, which hit 10.1% in July.
Other factors weighing in on the inflation issue include Russian sanctions on fuel exports. This Ukraine conflict has claimed significant military aid from Britain and an ongoing crisis of COVID-19 and monkeypox.
Liz Truss, 47, who was the foreign minister during Johnson’s administration, has promised that upon her successful election, she will get to work and tackle the fuel crisis within a week to reduce soaring household prices and secure future fuel supplies.
Liz Truss has also hinted during her campaign that she will defy conventional wisdom by repealing tax increases and reducing other levies, a move that some economists believe will increase inflation.
Additionally, some investors have sold their government bonds and the pound as a result of a pledge to review the Bank of England’s mandate while preserving its independence.
Kwasi Kwarteng, widely tipped as her new finance minister, sought to soothe markets on Monday. She stated that although the Liz Truss administration would see “some fiscal loosening,” her administration would act in a “fiscally responsible way” in an article published in the Financial Times newspaper.
As the person charged with cleaning up the mess left by the shoddy Conservative government’s twelve years in office, Liz Truss has a huge responsibility. Many have demanded an early election, which Liz Truss has stated she would not permit.
Veteran Conservative lawmaker David Davis described the challenges she would take on as prime minister as “probably the second most difficult brief of post-war prime ministers” after Conservative Margaret Thatcher in 1979.
Remarking that the costs would be astoundingly high, reaching almost tens of billions of pounds, Davis said, “I don’t think any of the candidates, not one of them going through it, really knows quite how big this is going to be.”
Liz Truss has pledged to appoint a new cabinet and do away with what one source close to her called a “presidential style” of governing. She will have to work hard to turn her critics, who backed Sunak, in her favour.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Government think-tank said Liz Truss would not have an easy time filling the PM vacuum as she was initially not the first choice among her party’s lawmakers for the next PM.
She will start by addressing the pressing matter of rising energy prices, as per her plan. Average annual household utility costs are expected to increase by 80% in October to 3,549 pounds before rising to 6,000 pounds in 2023, which will have a devastating impact on people’s personal finances.
Britain has lagged behind other major European nations in its offer of financial assistance for consumer energy bills, which opposition lawmakers attribute to an ineffective “zombie” government. At the same time, the Conservatives ran their leadership contest.
In May, the government announced a 37-billion-pound cost-of-living support program that included a 15-billion-pound support package to assist households with energy bills.