Tuesday saw the appointment of Liz Truss as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. She immediately began the enormous task that lay before her, facing mounting pressure to reduce rising prices, calm labor unrest, and make improvements to a healthcare system that is hampered by lengthy waiting lists and a lack of staff.
The energy crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is at the top of her inbox and threatens to drive energy prices to exorbitant heights, forcing companies to close, and leaving the nation’s poorest citizens shivering in freezing homes this winter.
According to British news outlets, Truss, who resisted outlining her energy plan during the two-month race to replace Boris Johnson, now proposes to control energy prices at a cost to taxpayers of up to 100 billion pounds ($116 billion). On Thursday, she’s anticipated to reveal her strategy.
The 55-year-old law enforcement officer Rebecca Macdougal stated, “You must know about the cost of living situation in England, which is actually pretty awful at the moment,” outside the Houses of Parliament.
She is promising to do that and she pledges to deliver on all of her promises. But we’ll have to wait and see whether there are any developments in the next weeks that will benefit the average worker.
During a meticulously staged ritual mandated by centuries of custom, Queen Elizabeth II officially invited Truss, 47, to form a new government on Tuesday afternoon at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Johnson, who had already stated his desire to retire two months before, did so in a formal manner just prior to his own session with the queen.
For the first time throughout the queen’s seventy-year reign, the transfer of power occurred in Balmoral rather than London’s Buckingham Palace. Because the 96-year-old queen has mobility issues that compel palace authorities to make choices regarding her travel on a daily basis, the event was relocated to Scotland to offer clarity about the timetable.
In an election where the only participants were the party’s 172,000 dues-paying members, Truss was elected prime minister a day after the Conservative Party in power picked her as its leader. Due to the Conservatives’ continued majority in the House of Commons, Truss was automatically elected prime minister upon becoming party leader.
Truss, though, is under pressure to provide results quickly since he was chosen as the nation’s leader by less than 0.5% of British citizens.
The opposition Liberal Democrats’ leader, Ed Davey, called on Tuesday for an early election in October, something Truss and the Conservative Party are very unlikely to do given the Tories’ deteriorating poll numbers.
He told the BBC, “I listened to Liz Truss throughout the Tory leadership (contest) and I was searching for a strategy to assist people with their rocketing energy costs, with the NHS problem, and so on, and I heard no plan at all. “I believe it’s absolutely terrible given that people are genuinely concerned, given that people are losing sleep over their energy costs, and given that companies aren’t investing due to the problem.”
As Johnson stepped out of the prime minister’s official home at No. 10 Downing Street for the last time, he noted the challenges confronting Britain and said that his policies had given the government the financial power it needed to assist citizens in navigating the energy crisis.
Always colorful, he hardly covered off his resentment at being sent out.
Johnson compared himself to a booster rocket that has completed its mission: “I am like one of them.” I’ll be quietly reentering the atmosphere now, splashing down in some hidden nook of the Pacific.
Johnson was cryptic about his intentions, but many analysts anticipate him to make an effort at a political return. Instead, the Oxford-trained classicist sided with Truss and likened himself to Cincinnatus, the deposed Roman tyrant who went back to his farm to live in peace.
He said, “Like Cincinnatus, I am going back to my plow.”
Three years ago, Johnson, 58, took over as prime minister following Theresa May’s failure to complete Britain’s exit from the European Union. Johnson subsequently secured an 80-seat Parliamentary majority by pledging to “get Brexit done.”
However, a string of scandals that culminated in the resignation of dozens of Cabinet secretaries and lower-level officials in early July drove him out of power. Truss, a former accountant who was first elected to the House of Commons in 2010, was made possible by this.
Many Brits are still getting to know their new leader.
Truss went slowly through the ranks of the Conservative Party before being chosen foreign secretary, one of the top Cabinet positions, only one year ago, in contrast to Johnson, who established himself as a media star long before he became prime minister.
Tuesday afternoon, she is scheduled to deliver her first address as prime minister in front of No. 10 Downing Street.
Truss is under pressure to explain how she intends to assist customers in paying their home energy bills, which, without her intervention, are expected to quadruple in price from October 1 to an average of 3,500 pounds ($4,000) annually.
The invasion of Ukraine, the fallout from COVID-19, and the Brexit vote have all contributed to rising food and energy costs, pushing U.K. inflation beyond 10% for the first time in forty years. The Bank of England predicts that it will reach 13.3% in October and that by year’s end, the U.K. would enter a protracted recession.
Millions more, from teachers to nurses, might go on strike in the next months in order to demand that wage hikes stay up with inflation. Strikes have already been called by train drivers, port employees, trash collectors, postal workers, and attorneys.
Truss, a conservative supporter of small government and low taxes who aspires to be like Margaret Thatcher, claims that reducing taxes and regulations is her top goal for promoting economic development. Critics claim it would increase inflation while doing nothing to solve the issue caused by rising costs of living. Money markets have been shaken by the uncertainty, pushing the pound to its lowest level since the 1980s on Monday, below $1.14.
Theoretically, Truss has time to leave her imprint since she has until late 2024 to call a presidential election. However, surveys already show that the major opposition Labour Party is consistently ahead, and pressure will only increase if the economy deteriorates.
Truss and her new Cabinet will have to deal with a number of foreign policy issues in addition to Britain’s internal problems, such as the conflict in Ukraine and tense ties with the EU after Brexit.
As foreign secretary, Truss firmly backed Ukraine’s opposition against Russia. She has said that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be her first call from an international leader.
Another pricey promise made by Truss is to raise the United Kingdom’s military expenditure from slightly over 2% of GDP to 3%.
However, she’s sure to have far more amicable discussions with EU leaders who were irritated by her rigid attitude as foreign secretary in negotiations over trade regulations for Northern Ireland, a lingering Brexit problem that has strained ties between London and Brussels. The issue might turn into a trade war as a result of the U.K. threatening to violate the legally binding divorce pact and the EU taking legal action in retaliation.
Robert Conway, a 71-year-old electronics maker, said in London, “I believe she’s got a tremendous, tough task ahead of her.” It will be a difficult task, but hopefully she’ll bring that, a new team, and a fresh start.