Liz Truss will become United Kingdom’s new prime minister after winning a leadership race for the governing Conservative party on Monday, vowing to press ahead with promises of tax cuts and to deal with a serious energy crisis.
After weeks of an often bad-tempered and divisive leadership contest 47 year old Truss, currently the foreign minister, defeated ex- finance minister Rishi Sunak in a vote of Conservative Party members, winning by 81,326 votes to 60,399.
“I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy,” Truss declared after the result was made public. “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 takes over as the UK faces a cost of living crisis, industrial unrest, a recession and war in Europe, where Britain has been a leading backer of Ukraine. She appeared to rule out another national election for the next two years, saying she would win a great victory for her party in 2024.
She succeeds Boris Johnson, who was forced to resign from the top post in July after months of scandal saw support for his administration drain away.
He will travel to Scotland to meet Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday to officially submit his resignation. Truss will follow him and be asked to form a government by the Queen.
Long the front-runner to replace him, Truss will become the Conservatives’ fourth Prime Minister since a 2015 election. Over that period the country has been buffeted from crisis to crisis, and now faces what is forecast to be a long recession triggered by sky-rocketing inflation which hit 10.1% in July.
Foreign minister under Johnson, Truss, 47, has promised to act quickly to handle the cost of living crisis, saying that within a week she will come up with a plan to tackle rising energy bills and securing future fuel supplies.
She indicated during her leadership campaign she would challenge convention by scrapping tax increases and cutting other levies in a move some economists say would fuel inflation.
That, plus a pledge to review the remit of the Bank of England while protecting its independence, has prompted some investors to dump the pound and government bonds.
Kwasi Kwarteng, widely tipped to be her finance minister, sought to calm markets on Monday, by saying in an article in the Financial Times newspaper that under Truss there would need to be “some fiscal loosening” but that her administration would act in “a fiscally responsible way”.
Truss faces a long, costly and difficult to-do list, which opposition lawmakers say is the result of 12 years of poor Conservative government. Several have called for an early election – something Truss has said she will not allow.
Veteran Conservative lawmaker David Davis described the challenges she would take on as prime minister as “probably the second most difficult brief of post-war prime ministers” after Conservative Margaret Thatcher in 1979.