The new leader of the Conservative Party, Liz Truss, becomes British Prime Minister today

Liz Truss has been elected the new leader of Britain’s Conservative Party and the next prime minister after a grueling six-week election campaign.

The 47-year-old Truss, who is currently foreign minister, beat former finance chief Rishi Sunak after a leadership contest in which only about 170,000 dues-paying Conservative Party members were allowed to vote.

Truss received 81,326 votes compared to Sunak’s 60,399.

It is under immediate pressure to deliver on its promises to tackle the cost-of-living crisis gripping Britain and an economy headed for a potentially protracted recession.

Queen Elizabeth II is due to formally appoint Truss as British Prime Minister on Tuesday.

The ceremony will take place at the Queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland, where the monarch is spending her summer, rather than at Buckingham Palace in London.

The two-month leadership contest left Britain in a power vacuum at a time of growing discontent amid rising energy and food costs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not made any major policy decisions since announcing his resignation on July 7, and officials have insisted action to deal with the energy cost crisis would be postponed until his successor took office.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of workers have gone on strike to demand better pay to keep up with soaring costs.

Inflation is above 10 percent for the first time since the 1980s, and the Bank of England forecasts it will hit a 42-year high of 13.3 percent in October.

That’s largely due to rising energy bills, which are set to increase by 80 percent from next month for the average household.

“I will come up with a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy. I will deal with the energy crisis, deal with people’s energy bills, but also deal with the long-term problems of energy supply,” Truss told party members after their election.

“I know our beliefs resonate with the British people: our belief in freedom, in the ability to take control of your own life, in low taxes, in personal responsibility,” she added.

“I know that’s why people voted for us in such large numbers in 2019, and as your party leader, I intend to deliver what we promised to those voters in our great country.”

Truss has won the support of many conservatives with her zeal to roll back government intervention and lower taxes.

Both she and her rival Sunak have spoken of their admiration for Margaret Thatcher, who was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, and for her free-market, small-state economy.

But it’s not clear how Truss’ right-wing conservatism, which resonated so well with party members – who make up far less than 1 per cent of Britain’s adult population – will resonate with the broader British public, particularly those most in need of government support to be able to afford basic necessities like heating their homes this winter.

Truss has promised to act “immediately” to deal with rising energy bills but has declined to give details.

“Conservative Party members wanted that message of the tax cut. The country, I guess, less so,” said Bronwen Maddox, director of London think tank Chatham House.

“Right now people are devastated, many are very, very scared going into a year where all they can see is rising costs,” Maddox added.

“Until she has an answer to that, I don’t think she has any claim to the country’s popularity.”

While the economy is sure to dominate the first few months of the new PM’s tenure, Truss must also guide the UK on the international stage amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, an increasingly assertive China and ongoing tensions with the European Union in the aftermath of Brexit – especially in Northern Ireland.

Australia, New Zealand and Japan congratulated Truss early Tuesday and looked forward to strengthening their ties with the UK under her administration.

“She was a staunch supporter of Britain’s ‘slant’ to the Indo-Pacific and played a central role in advancing our historic Free Trade Agreement,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Truss will be Britain’s fourth Conservative Prime Minister in six years, stepping down to Downing Street after Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron.

Johnson was forced to resign after a series of ethics scandals, which culminated in July when dozens of cabinet ministers and junior officials resigned in protest at his handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by a senior member of his government.

Both Truss and Sunak were key figures in Johnson’s cabinet, although Sunak stepped down from Johnson’s tenure in recent days.

A truss government may not go down well with many because it reminds voters too much of Johnson’s misdeeds, said Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at Nottingham University.

“She was basically voted Boris Johnson 2.0 by Conservative members – she has made it very clear that she is a staunch supporter of Boris Johnson,” he said.

“I think she’s going to find it very difficult to break away from the whole Johnson shadow.”

Truss and Sunak were the final two candidates carved from an initial field of 11 hopeful leaders.

Under Britain’s parliamentary system of government, the centre-right Conservative Party was allowed to hold an internal election to elect a new party leader and prime minister without reaching out to the wider electorate. A new election is not required until December 2024.

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/new-conservative-party-leader-liz-truss-to-become-british-prime-minister-today-41964253.html The new leader of the Conservative Party, Liz Truss, becomes British Prime Minister today

Fry Electronics Team

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