Liz Truss will be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom (U.K.) after winning the race on Monday to lead the Conservative Party.
Truss will take 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 honoured 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 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.
Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to formally appoint Truss as Britain’s prime minister on Tuesday during a ceremony at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.
In remarks directly following the announcement, 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 other places in Europe and the U.S.
“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.
The prime minister 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 his 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 St.
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 Labour 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.”
TUESDAY, SEPT. 6 TIMELINE:
- Outgoing PM Boris Johnson bids farewell in a speech outside No 10, before Liz Truss takes over the role
- In his last address as prime minister, Johnson says he is “like a booster rocket” that has “fulfilled its function”
- “This is it, folks”, he says as he boasts of his record in office and calls on the Conservative Party to unite behind Truss
- He and Truss are now travelling to Balmoral in Aberdeenshire, where he will offer his resignation to the Queen who will appoint Truss as PM
- Later this afternoon, Truss will address the nation at Downing Street
- She is also expected to start naming her Cabinet – with Home Secretary Priti Patel and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries already resigning
World reacts to Truss win
By Leo Sands
Global leaders have been sending their congratulations to Liz Truss – but in the international media, there have been snarkier remarks, too.
“She has gone to see the Queen,” said Russian television presenter Ivan Trushkin. “If she [the Queen] recognises her of course.”
In France, meanwhile, she has been branded not the Iron Lady – which was former UK PM Margaret Thatcher’s nickname – but the Iron Weathercock.
This is a reference to Ms Truss’s changing views on the UK leaving the European Union – she went from opponent before the 2016 referendum, to supporter afterwards, saying in July that “some of the portents of doom didn’t happen”. It’s believed the term was first coined in Les Echos in July – but has since caught on among some commentators.
Like Les Echos, Italy’s Corriere della Sera compared Truss to Thatcher – but described the new leader’s speeches as more “robotic”.
The first leader to congratulate publicly Ms Truss was German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“In these challenging times,” he wrote in English, London and Berlin would carry on cooperating as “partners and friends”.
Warm words also came from EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – but not without an apparent reference to the Brexit-related Northern Ireland protocol.
“I look forward to a constructive relationship, in full respect of our agreements,” she said in a tweet.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished Liz Truss the “very best”, Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki said he was “very, very pleased” by her commitment to Ukraine, and the Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he looked forward to working with Britain’s new PM.
As expected, the reaction from Russia has been more negative, with presenters on Gazprom-owned NTV describing Truss’s election as a “catastrophe” for the UK.
Russia’s foreign ministry, which has previously been highly dismissive of Liz Truss, is yet to react formally to the news. When it does – don’t expect much love lost.
In February, Moscow’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov compared meeting her with “a conversation between someone deaf and someone who is mute.”
However, Ms Truss’s win was welcomed by some in Russia. Leonid Volkov, chief of staff for jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said it was “excellent news”.
“In the Kremlin they were cracking open the champagne when Johnson resigned, but there are no grounds for supposing that Truss will be a softer touch,” he wrote on Twitter (in Russian).
China is also yet to officially respond to the news – but prominent Chinese journalists offered a similarly pessimistic view of the UK’s future under Truss.
“Truss will likely be one of Britain’s most mediocre prime ministers,” tweeted Hu Xijin, a commentator for the Chinese Communist Party-affiliated Global Times.
“Truss has the will to be Britain’s “new iron lady”, but she may not have Thatcher’s fate.”