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Liz Truss to be next British prime minister

September 5, 2022

The foreign secretary beat Rishi Sunak in the Conservative leadership contest. As a result, she will succeed Boris Johnson as the next British prime minister.

Liz Truss speaks after being announced as Britain's next Prime Minister
Truss said she will govern as a conservativeImage: Hannah McKay/REUTERS

Liz Truss has been elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party and will become Britain's new prime minister, party officials announced on Monday.

She will take over from Boris Johnson who announced his resignation in July following a slew of scandals and resignations from his government. 

Truss, the current foreign secretary, was given the mandate to lead the country by the governing party's members after a protracted six-week campaign against former Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) Rishi Sunak.

She and Johnson will travel to Scotland on Tuesday to meet Queen Elizabeth II for the official handover of power.

Truss: 'We need to show that we will deliver'

What will the prime minister need to address first?

Truss promised to "deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow the economy." 

She faces "the worst in-tray for a new prime minister since Thatcher," the Sunday Times wrote, referencing former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Top of the list will be tackling the United Kingdom's cost-of-living crisis.

"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," she said during her acceptance speech.

Thanks to global gas price volatility triggered in part by the war in Ukraine, the average UK household energy bill is jumping to more than 3,500 pounds ($4,000; €4,041) a year. The UK faces decades-high inflation and is tipped to enter recession later this year.

Liz Truss: Britain's next prime minister? # DW News

She earlier declined to comment on a report that her energy plan could exceed 100 billion pounds, but the lawmaker tipped to be her finance minister, business minister Kwasi Kwarteng, wrote on Monday that the government could afford to borrow more to fund support for households and businesses.

Truss has also signaled during her leadership campaign that she would challenge convention by scrapping tax increases and cutting other levies.

What foreign policy issues face the UKs new leader?

The new prime minister will also have to steer the UK on the international stage with Russia's war in Ukraine, an increasingly assertive China, and ongoing tensions with the European Union over the aftermath of Brexit topping that agenda.

Truss said she would tear up parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a step that could lead to a new trade barriers or even legal difficulties with the EU.

A bill to unilaterally scrap some customs checks to ease the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain is working its way through the British parliament, and Truss said last month that if picked as prime minister she would seek to deliver that legislation in full.

World leaders react to Liz Truss victory

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was amongst the first world leaders to congratulate Truss her new role. He said Germany looked forward to "our cooperation in these challenging times."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, "We face many challenges together, from climate change to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. I look forward to a constructive relationship, in full respect of our agreements."

Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Micheal Martin said he was looking forward to working with Truss as his country's "nearest neighbor" adding they face important issues together. 

French President Emmanuel Macron — who Truss recently implied may be a "foe" of the UK — also congratulated Truss, sending his congratulations from all of France. He said he was "ready to work together as friends and allies."

Truss set to meet the Queen

On Tuesday, Johnson will deliver a farewell speech at Downing Street. Johnson and Truss will travel to Scotland to meet with Queen Elizabeth II.

He will formally tender his resignation, and the Queen will appoint his successor in a so-called kissing of hands ceremony.

Truss will then fly back to London to deliver a speech outside Downing Street and appoint a Cabinet.

"I campaigned as a conservative and I will govern as a conservative. My friends, we need to show that we will deliver over the next two years," she said. 

On Wednesday, she will face their first head-to-head Prime Minister's Question Time with the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, in the House of Commons.

lo/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters)