Liz Truss became Britain’s prime minister Tuesday and immediately faced the enormous tasks ahead: curbing rising prices, boosting the economy , relieve labor unrest and fix national health. care system burdened by long waiting lists and lack of staff. Truss quickly began appointing senior members of his cabinet as he tackled an inbox dominated by the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which threatens to drive energy bills to unaffordable levels, closing businesses and leaving the poorest people in the country shivering at home this winter.
Truss, Britain’s third female prime minister, appointed a first-rate team that was diverse in gender and ethnicity, but loyal to her and her free-market policies. Kwasi Kwarteng becomes the UK’s first black head of the Treasury, and Therese Coffey the first female deputy prime minister. Other appointments include James Cleverly as Foreign Secretary and Suella Braverman as Home Secretary, responsible for immigration and law and order. Making his maiden speech outside his new Downing Street home, in a break between torrential downpours, Truss said he would cut taxes to stimulate economic growth, strengthen the National Health Service and “deal with ” with the energy crisis, though he offered few details on how he would implement those policies. It is scheduled to unveil its energy plans on Thursday.
British media reported that Truss plans to cap energy bills. The cost to taxpayers of this step could reach 100 billion pounds ($116 billion). “We must not be daunted by the challenges we face,” Truss said in his first speech as prime minister. “No matter how strong the storm, I know the British people are stronger.
Truss, 47, took office at Balmoral Castle in Scotland when Queen Elizabeth II formally asked him to form a new government in a carefully choreographed ceremony dictated by centuries of tradition. Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally resigned during his own audience with the Queen shortly before, two months after he announced his intention to step down. 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 over the schedule, as the 96-year-old queen has had mobility problems that have forced palace officials to make day-to-day decisions about her travel. US President Joe Biden, who worked closely with Johnson to deal with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was quick to congratulate Truss.
“I look forward to deepening the special relationship between our countries and working in close cooperation on global challenges, including continued support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression,” he said on Twitter. Truss became prime minister a day after the ruling Conservative Party chose her as leader in an election where the party’s 172,000 dues-paying members were the only voters. As party leader, Truss automatically became prime minister without the need for a general election because the Conservatives still have a majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons. But as national leader elected by less than 0.5% of British adults, Truss is under pressure to show quick results.
Ed Davey, the leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, on Tuesday called an early election in October, which Truss and the Conservative Party are highly unlikely to do as the Tories are falling in the polls. Johnson, 58, became prime minister three years ago after his predecessor, Theresa May, failed to secure Britain’s exit from the European Union. Johnson later won an 80-seat majority in Parliament on the promise of “getting Brexit done”. But he was forced out of office by a series of scandals that culminated in the resignation of dozens of cabinet secretaries and lower-level posts in early July. Many people in Britain are still learning about their new leader, an accountant who entered Parliament in 2010.
Unlike Johnson, who became a media celebrity long before becoming prime minister, Truss rose quietly in the Conservative ranks before being appointed. Minister of Foreign Affairs, one of the main positions in the cabinet, just a year ago. In theory, Truss has time to make his mark: he does not have to call a national election until the end of 2024. But opinion polls already give the main opposition Labor Party a steady lead, and the worse the economy , the more pressure there will be. grow up. In addition to the UK’s domestic problems, Truss and his new cabinet will also face multiple foreign policy crises, including the war in Ukraine and frosty post-Brexit relations with the EU. Truss, as Foreign Secretary, was a strong supporter of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia. Truss has also pledged to increase UK defense spending to 3% of gross domestic product from just over 2%, another expensive promise.