Truss might wonder why she applied in the first place

On Monday we learned which candidate won the Conservative Party leadership election.

Usually, congratulations are due to politicians who have managed to climb to the top of the political dope, but in this particular case sympathy might be more appropriate. Because Liz Truss is about to inherit a terrifying legacy.

There is no escape from the front and middle time bomb they and the rest of us are facing – the cost of living crisis, fueled (if that’s the right word) by rising energy costs.

Throughout the campaign, Truss had only one answer to Tory members asking how she was going to ensure people didn’t have to choose between eating and heating this winter and small and medium-sized businesses didn’t have to face the almost daily prospect of going under – Tax cuts, she intones.

Almost every reputable economist and economic think tank has said that this is the wrong answer. Truss talks about how tax cuts will lead to economic growth going forward, but what we need to hear from her is how she intends to tackle the country’s economic woes next month rather than next year. In fact, many believe immediate tax cuts will only exacerbate inflation, which is now forecast to rise to 18 percent and even higher.

Linked to the cost of living crisis is the growing wave of strikes which is now spreading across all sectors of the public and private sectors, from dockers in Felixstowe, who are responsible for 40 per cent of our imports, to trainers, refuse collectors, lawyers – the list goes on further. Dissatisfaction is everywhere and it falls to our new PM to deal with it urgently.

Added to this is the seemingly never-ending crisis in the healthcare sector. The looming threat of another Omicron wave, combined with a bad bout of the annual winter flu epidemic, could put the NHS in an even worse position this year than it was when hospitals were grappling with the first waves of the coronavirus pandemic excluding threats of industrial action by nurses and junior doctors in hospitals.

Then Ms. Truss, or less likely Mr. Sunak, will have to deal with the war in Ukraine, which is now in its seventh month and with no negotiated or military end in sight. Liz Truss faces two challenges on this front.

The first will be how far she can maintain the country’s commitment to support Ukraine despite rising gas and electricity bills. That’s the relatively easy task.

The real challenge is playing their part in holding together the European coalition that has played such an important role in supporting Ukraine and isolating Russia. But not all European governments and peoples have supported Ukraine in the way Britain has. So Truss will have to do everything to ensure that the current coalition does not begin to fragment.

One way of almost guaranteeing this is the one that Truss appears to have taken, and that is by doing her utmost to alienate our fellow European citizens.

She is doing this by reaffirming, as she has done, our intention to withdraw from the Northern Ireland Protocol almost immediately upon taking office. This is the deal that will ensure goods to and from Europe will flow freely in and out of the province, a move likely to infuriate political leaders across the continent.

And if all of that isn’t enough to make Ms. Truss question why she applied for the job in the first place, she might be wondering how secure her position is in her own party.

During the runoff for that leadership contest, Truss was adamant about supporting her fellow MPs.

In the first round she won only 50 of her 357 female colleagues and in the last round she secured the support of just a third of Tory MPs.

And then there lurks the character of her predecessor, who is already making very strong indications that he will not make a Cameron and will quietly leave the political stage.

So it’s far from impossible that the next election, sooner or later, after Truss led the Tories to defeat, will be challenged and lose the lead – and then, guess who’s waiting in the wings to come back his “rightful place” as leader of the party.

you have been warned

Ivor Gaber is a Professor of Political Journalism at the University of Sussex and a former Westminster Political Correspondent Truss might wonder why she applied in the first place

Fry Electronics Team

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