Liz Truss became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on Tuesday, Sepember 6th, 2022. Queen Elizabeth II formally appointed Truss during a formal ceremony as Britain’s prime minister on Tuesday, September 6th during at her Balmoral estate in Scotland, where the monarch is spending her summer, rather than Buckingham Palace in London.
Liz Truss, the former Foreign Secretary of England was elected to replace Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, marking the end of a bitter summer campaigning and the peak of a political career marked by a rapid climb through the upper echelons of British politics and dramatic changes of opinion.
Truss received 57.4 percent of the vote, beating out rival Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former finance minister, who received 42.6 percent of the vote. Truss was largely viewed as the frontrunner during the campaign. Roughly 172,000 dues-paying Conservative Party members cast ballots in the election after the party’s lawmakers nominated eight candidates and narrowed the ballot list to Truss and Sunak.
The 47-year-old Truss, who is currently foreign secretary, beat former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak after a leadership contest in which only about 170,000 dues-paying members of the Conservative Party were allowed to vote. Truss received 81,326 votes, compared with Sunak’s 60,399.
Truss took over the role from Boris Johnson, who announced his resignation in July as his relationship with Conservative lawmakers soured over his handling of a number of issues. Truss served as foreign secretary under Johnson. “I am honored to be elected Leader of the Conservative Party,” Truss said after the announcement.
“Thank you for putting your trust in me to lead and deliver for our great country,” she continued. “I will take bold action to get all of us through these tough times, grow our economy and unleash the United Kingdom’s potential.”
Truss, who promised to increase defense spending and cut taxes during the campaign, will assume the prime minister role as the country faces skyrocketing energy prices and high inflation. She is confronted with the enormous task ahead of her amid increasing pressure to curb soaring prices, ease labor unrest and fix a health care system burdened by long waiting lists and staff shortages.
In remarks, Truss doubled down on her plan to grow Britain’s economy by cutting taxes, also emphasizing her belief in “personal responsibility.”
“During this leadership campaign, I campaigned as a conservative, and I will govern as a conservative,” she said. Truss also vowed to take action on the country’s mounting energy issues, characterizing it as a “crisis.”
Annual energy bills for the average U.K. household have already risen by 54 percent this year, and consumers will see another hike in October that brings the gain to roughly 80 percent.
Global oil and gas prices jumped as demand surged from countries recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Supply strains resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have furthered the imbalance of energy supplies and demand, contributing to price gains and fueling fears of a recession.
Britain’s annual inflation rate hit 10.1 percent in July, a 40-year high that outpaces the U.S. and other places in Europe. “I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply,” Truss said on Monday.
The Conservative Party has maintained a healthy majority since the country’s 2019 elections. Johnson has served atop the party since that year but came under increasing pressure to step aside in recent months over a variety of issues, eventually leading to his resignation announcement in July.
Boris Johnson was accused that he attended gatherings in his office and other government buildings in 2020 and 2021 when the country imposed pandemic restrictions on parties, leading Johnson to become the first sitting prime minister to receive fines. Some in his party later called for Johnson’s resignation over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations against Johnson’s deputy chief whip.
Sunak, Truss’s most formidable opponent in the race, resigned last year amid the scandals, days before Johnson announced he would leave 10 Downing Street. Truss remained in Johnson’s cabinet and on Monday called him a “friend.”
“Boris — you got Brexit done, you crushed Jeremy Corbyn, you rolled out the vaccine and you stood up to Vladimir Putin,” she said. “You are admired from Kyiv to Carlisle.”
Keir Starmer, the leader of U.K.’s Labor Party, congratulated Truss on her victory. “But after 12 years of the Tories all we have to show for it is low wages, high prices and a Tory cost of living crisis,” Starmer tweeted. “Only Labour can deliver the fresh start our country needs.”
It was the first time in the queen’s 70-year reign that the handover of power took place at Balmoral, rather than Buckingham Palace in London. The ceremony was moved to Scotland to provide certainty about the schedule, because the 96-year-old queen has experienced problems getting around that have forced palace officials to make decisions about her travel on a day-to-day basis.
Truss faces immediate pressure to deliver on her promises to tackle a cost-of-living crisis walloping the U.K. and an economy heading into a potentially lengthy recession.
Throughout her political career, Truss has been compared to Thatcher, who, for many on the right, remains the benchmark for Conservative leaders. Like Thatcher, Truss has come from relatively humble beginnings to dominate a world inhabited largely by men.
Truss was elected to Parliament in 2010. In a relatively short period of time, she has established herself as a political force of nature who pursues her agenda with relentless vigor and unequivocal enthusiasm. She served under three prime ministers in several different cabinet jobs, most recently as foreign secretary.
Since becoming an MP, Truss has gone from being the darling of the liberal Conservative leader David Cameron, who took a personal interest in her career, to the Euroskeptic right’s figurehead.
Truss has been seen by most as the Johnson continuity candidate, and she has enjoyed the backing of many of his loyalists.