UNITED KINGDOM: After her election victory, she defeated rival and former finance minister Rishi Sunak to win the Conservative leadership vote and was formally appointed as Britain’s next prime minister by Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral, Liz Truss got to work. She has rewarded her key allies with top posts in a major reshuffle, hours after succeeding Boris Johnson as prime minister.
While Kwasi Kwarteng was installed as chancellor, James cleverly became foreign secretary, and Suella Braverman replaced Priti Patel as home secretary.
One of PM Truss’ closest friends, Therese Coffey, assumes the authority as health secretary and deputy PM.
Her new cabinet is scheduled to meet ahead of her first Prime Minister’s Questions later.
None of those Cabinet members who backed her rival Sunak during the campaign trail will remain in her full cabinet, with Dominic Raab, Grant Shapps, George Eustice and Steve Barclay all returning to the backbenches.
However, the press secretary for Liz Truss claimed that the changes would aim to “unify” the Conservative party and mentioned five of her rivals for the position of party leader who had held previous positions: Suella Braverman, Tom Tugendhat as the security minister, Kemi Badenoch as the trade secretary, Penny Mordaunt as the leader of the Commons, and Nadhim Zahawi as the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
For the first time, none of the top four “great offices of state”—the prime minister, chancellor, homes secretary, and foreign secretary—are held by a Caucasian male in Liz Truss’ cabinet ministry.
Meanwhile, amidst the several congratulatory messages from around the world on her election victory, the new PM decided to ring up a fellow distressed foreign leader. Liz Truss telephoned Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and renewed her pledge for the nation in its fight against Russian aggression.
No 10 said Liz Truss was also “delighted” to accept an invitation to visit Ukraine.
She later spoke on the phone with US President Joe Biden, and the two discussed the significance of the UK and the EU coming to terms regarding post-Brexit trading regulations in Northern Ireland.
Some of the most striking aspects of Liz Truss’ cabinet appointment include the complete absence of all those former top officials who supported and furthered her rival, Sunak’s campaign.
The only one who is retained is Michael Ellis, the new attorney general for England and Wales. However, Ellis will attend cabinet rather than be a cabinet minister, though that distinction is subtle.
The dominance of Truss campaign supporters in key posts at the top table is hugely problematic for some Tory MPs, who have been grumbling over such partiality. However, the public and press must remain calm for a jolly ride ahead, as Liz Truss might make some more appointments to junior ranks in government.
The prime minister’s desire for unwavering loyalty and keeping her allies close to her could backfire- and lead to active rebellion down the track.
Late on Tuesday, Liz Truss completed her first round of appointments, and new Chancellor Kwarteng tweeted that being given the position was “the honour of a lifetime.”
He is expected to spend his first-day meeting with chief executives of various banks to brief them on his outlook.
Kwarteng is also responsible for finalising plans for energy bill support, which could see typical household bills capped at around £2,500 a year.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, was one of the few senior ministers to keep his position, where he received praise for his handling of the Ukrainian conflict.
Nadine Dorries, who backed Liz Truss, said she had been asked by the new PM to stay on as culture secretary but had decided to quit front-line politics.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, an early supporter of Liz Truss, was appointed business, energy and industrial strategy secretary.
Sunak, the former chancellor whose resignation intensified the calls for Boris Johnson’s exit, had already made it clear that he did not expect to be offered a new job. But his new supporters alerted Liz Truss to form a more “inclusive” cabinet rather than filling it with her loyalists.
After she was appointed the 56th prime minister of the UK, Liz Truss returned to a rain-lashed Downing Street, where in a short speech, she vowed to grow the economy through tax cuts and reform; take immediate action to deal with energy bills and put the health service on “a firm footing“.