British Foreign Minister Liz Truss was on Monday named as the nation’s new leader, replacing scandal-scarred prime minister Boris Johnson.
Truss, 47, was picked by her ruling right-wing Conservative Party to be the UK’s third female prime minister — and the fourth leader of the party’s government since a general election in 2015.
“Thank you for putting your trust in me to lead and deliver for our great country,” she tweeted soon after the announcement.
“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 was handed control of the nation after a leadership contest in which only about 170,000 dues-paying members of the Conservative Party were allowed to vote. Truss received 81,326 votes, compared to former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak’s 60,399 votes.
Her appointment ends a two-month power vacuum sparked by Johnson’s July 7 announcement that he was stepping down amid insurmountable backlash to a series of scandals, most notably office parties defying his own government’s strict lockdown rules.
While picked by her own party, Truss could face greater pushback from the general public because she was a key member of Johnson’s tarnished government, warned Steven Fielding, a UK professor of political history.
“She’s basically been elected as Boris Johnson 2.0 by Conservative members — she’s made it very clear that she is a loyal Boris Johnson supporter,” Fielding said.
“I think she’s going to find it very difficult to disentangle herself from the whole Johnson shadow.”
Following UK tradition, Johnson will meet with Queen Elizabeth II to officially tender his resignation.
The meeting will take place at the queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland, where the monarch is spending her summer amid ongoing health and mobility concerns, rather than Buckingham Palace in London.
Truss will follow him so that the queen can formally appoint Truss as Britain’s prime minister on Tuesday.
She will take the helm at a time when the country faces a cost of living crisis, industrial unrest and a recession triggered by sky-rocketing inflation, which is above 10% for the first time since the 1980s.
The Bank of England has forecast that it will further soar to a 42-year high of 13.3% in October, largely driven by soaring energy bills, which will jump 80% for the average household starting next month.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of workers have gone on strike to demand better pay to keep up with relentlessly rising costs.
After she was elected, Truss told party members that she “will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy.”
“I know that our beliefs resonate with the British people: Our beliefs in freedom, in the ability to control your own life, in low taxes, in personal responsibility,” she added.
“I know that’s why people voted for us in such numbers in 2019 and as your party leader I intend to deliver what we promised those voters right across our great country.”
Johnson said Monday that he was “proud to serve as leader” for three years, while congratulating Truss on “her decisive win.
“I know she has the right plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, unite our party and continue the great work of uniting and leveling up our country,” he insisted, saying it was “time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100 per cent.”
The defeated rival, Sunak, also said that it was “right we now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times.”
The appointment makes Truss Britain’s third female prime minister, after Theresa May, who held office from 2016 to 2019, and Margaret Thatcher, who governed from 1979 to 1990.
Some of her earliest political memories were of her leftist parents — a math professor and a nurse — taking her on anti-Thatcher protests where they would chant, “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie — out, out, out!”
Instead, she soon found herself “arguing against my socialist parents in our left-wing household” and instead forming a right-wing view that many compare to the Iron Lady, as Thatcher was known.
David Laws, a former Cabinet minister who worked with Truss in government a decade ago, recalled her as energetic and “mind-bogglingly ambitious,” comparing her in his memoir to “a young Margaret Thatcher on speed.”
Mark Littlewood, a commentator who has known Truss since their university days, said she is less a conservative than a “radical,” who — like Thatcher — wants to “roll back the intervention of the state.”
“I’m expecting a lot of fireworks and a lot of controversy and a lot of action,” he predicted.
With Post wires