Almost two months after Boris Johnson finally redressed his faltering position as Prime Minister, Liz Truss was elected to succeed him at 10 Downing Street on Monday. Hooray.
Truss – who served as Johnson’s foreign secretary and remained loyal to him even through a seemingly endless cavalcade of scandals this year, including the imbroglio of covering up sexual assaults that eventually brought him down – was confirmed Monday afternoon. After a bitter week-long leadership race against Johnson’s former Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak, Truss secured the top spot by beating Sunak 57 to 43 percent in a vote by 172,000 Conservative party members. It is the third time in just six years that Tory members alone – a tiny fraction of the electorate – have elected a new leader for the UK
On Tuesday, Johnson and Truss will travel to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where Queen Elizabeth will formally invite Truss to form a new government. The appointment would traditionally take place at Buckingham Palace in London, but the Queen’s ailing health has meant the ceremony has been moved to her holiday home to avoid the 96-year-old monarch having to travel. Truss will be the 15th Prime Minister to receive the Queen during her reign – her first was Sir Winston Churchill in 1952.
Even if Britain doesn’t face an existential threat, from the moment she takes power, Truss will need a Churchillian test of resolve. She will enter her office at 10 Downing Street to find a desk creaking under the weight of an in-tray filled with some of the gravest crises the UK has faced in recent memory.
Britain’s grim cost-of-living crisis – in which scorching hot inflation, unprecedented energy costs and food price hikes will leave millions of Britons cold and hungry when winter arrives – will require immediate and drastic action after Johnson allowed the disaster to rise in is unfortunately not being addressed in the final weeks of his term as Prime Minister. After being upset because she originally said she would help with energy bills by cutting taxes instead of “giving out vouchers,” Truss has vowed to come up with a plan to help homes with rising gas within a week of taking office – and electricity costs should help. Exactly what that plan will entail remains to be seen.
To her critics, Truss’s turn on the cost of living is emblematic of an unprincipled willingness to support any position that advances her personally. Truss was a vocal Liberal Democrat while studying at Oxford University, and some Tories are still suspicious of her Conservative honesty. They also fear that Truss voted to remain in the European Union during the 2016 referendum – when it made political sense in David Cameron’s government – but is now positioning herself as an uncompromising Brexit supporter. Even during her leadership campaign last month, Truss hastily dropped a plan to cut the salaries of civil servants outside London after the proposal sparked uproar – only for her campaign to insist the abandoned policy had been misrepresented by the media.
Her broader economic plans have also been called into question. On Sunday, Truss defended her plans for a low-tax economy, even though a key policy move – cutting Social Security taxes – will benefit the richest earners 250 times more than the poorest.
And Britain’s economic woes have also underpinned huge waves of strikes in vital sectors of the economy. On Monday, trial lawyers in England and Wales began an indefinite strike over levels of public funding, following railway workers, refuse collectors and postal workers across Britain in a bid to paralyze industrial action. The bad news for Truss is that the strikes could get worse as the unions representing doctors and nurses, teachers and civil servants are all considering going on strikes of their own.
Truss is also tasked with finding a way to break the deadlock around the Northern Ireland Protocol as the EU is currently taking legal action against the UK over the sensitive trade issue. Even the ‘United’ part of the ‘United Kingdom’ could unravel under Truss’ watch, as Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is targeting a new referendum on Scottish independence for 2023, a Tory prime minister (Truss’ party is officially titled ‘Conservative and Unionist Party”). Truss poured kerosene on the burning issue during her lead race by calling Sturgeon an “attention seeker” who should be ignored.
Oh, and there’s also the war in Ukraine to deal with. Truss has promised Kyiv that Britain will remain a staunch ally even amid snowball disasters at home.
And politically, Truss faces the added Herculean challenge of keeping the Conservative Party enthusiasm alive in voters’ minds after 12 years in power; She is now the fourth Tory prime minister since 2010. With the opposition Labor party forging historic leads in opinion polls during the livelihood crisis and turning the Tories into a winning machine ahead of the next general election (which will be held no later than January 2025) will be on be a grueling task.
Before doing so, she must also win over her own party lawmakers, who have favored her rival Rishi Sunak in every round of the leadership contest, before party members have the final say in last Friday’s crucial vote.
“I think it’s a disaster,” a skeptical former Tory minister told The Daily Beast. “I think intelligent people have already seen through her, and once she gets more attention and scrutiny, even just seeing her performance, people will be like, ‘Crikey, what do we have here?’ I think she’s going straight down the drain.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/liz-truss-is-britains-new-prime-ministergod-help-her?source=articles&via=rss Liz Truss is Britain’s new Prime Minister – God help her