Liz Truss to take over as U.K.’s next Prime Minister

Long the front-runner in the race to replace Boris Johnson, Liz Truss became the Conservatives' fourth prime minister since a 2015 election

Updated - September 05, 2022 11:26 pm IST

Published - September 05, 2022 05:09 pm IST - London

Liz Truss speaks after being announced as Britain’s next Prime Minister at The Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, Britain on September 5, 2022.

Liz Truss speaks after being announced as Britain’s next Prime Minister at The Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, Britain on September 5, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Announcing the results of the intra-party contest for the leadership of the party and the job at No. 10 Downing Street, the U.K’s Conservative party said that British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss would be the country’s next Prime Minister and leader of the party. Ms. Truss won a vote share of 57% or 81,326 votes versus former Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s 42% or 60,399 votes with 82.% of Conservative members voting.

Also Read | U.K. PM-elect Liz Truss committed to ‘sweet spot’ of India ties

With Monday’s announcement, Ms. Truss is set to become Britain’s 56th Prime Minister and the third woman to hold the position. She will travel to Balmoral Castle, Scotland, on Tuesday, where she will be invited by Queen Elizabeth II to form a new government.

In her victory speech at the Conservative gathering at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, Ms. Truss thanked the Conservative Party functionaries for the “longest job interview in history” - the contest began in early July after the resignation of several top ministers in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet, including Mr. Sunak.

The incoming Prime Minister thanked Mr. Sunak as well as thanking - in hyperbolic terms - Mr. Johnson, in whose cabinet she remained - a factor that possibly contributed to her popularity against Mr. Sunak.

“Boris, you got Brexit done, you crushed [ former Labour Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn, you rolled out the vaccine, and you stood up to Vladimir Putin. You are admired from Kyiv to Carlisle,” she said.

Ms. Truss will inherit a burgeoning list of problems on Tuesday. The U.K is grappling with soaring inflation - the kind it has not seen in some four decades (currently above 10%), a looming recession, energy bills that could send many Britons into fuel poverty and an ongoing war in Europe between Russia and Ukraine.

“I campaigned as a Conservative and I will govern as a Conservative,” Ms. Truss said, as she promised to cut taxes, deliver growth, improve the National Health Service (NHS) and deal with the energy bill crisis. She had over the weekend that within a week of entering No. 10, she would deliver a plan to immediately address energy prices and a longer-term energy supply strategy.

Also Read | Rishi Sunak vs Liz Truss: key policy differences

Whether to cut taxes or focus first on inflation became central to the debate between Ms. Truss and Mr. Sunak. Borrowing to finance tax cuts was not the Conservative way, Mr. Sunak had argued.

While he did not speak at the auditorium, sent out a tweet in which thanked everyone who voted for him and said that it was time to unite behind the new Prime Minister “as she steers the country through difficult times.”

“I’ve said throughout that the Conservatives are one family, “ he wrote.

Shortly after the news of her victory broke, Prime Minister Modi congratulated Ms. Truss.

“Confident that under your leadership, the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership will be further strengthened. Wish you the very best for your new role and responsibilities,” he said on Twitter.

India and the U.K. - which have about GBP 25.7 billion ($29.6 billion) in bilateral trade - are currently negotiating a free-trade agreement under a comprehensive multi-dimensional plan to deepen ties, called the ‘2030 UK-India Roadmap’, launched last year. The U.K. had also announced an “Indo-Pacific tilt” in its March 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence and Development Policy.

India has overtaken the U.K. according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections, to become the fifth largest economy in the world. Speaking at an event on Monday, Mr. Modi said the “pleasure of surpassing” India’s former imperial ruler superseded the “mere statistics” of an improved ranking.

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