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WORLD | 05-09-2022 08:52

Liz Truss to be next UK PM after winning Conservative Party vote

Liz Truss will be the United Kingdom's next prime minister, after winning an internal leadership contest of the ruling Conservative party. 

Britain's Conservative party Monday announced Liz Truss as its new leader to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson and confront Britain's deepest economic crisis in decades.

The foreign secretary beat her rival, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, by 81,326 votes to 60,399, after a summer-long internal contest decided by just over 170,000 Conservative members – a tiny sliver of Britain's electorate.

In a short victory speech at the announcement in a central London convention hall, Truss said it was an "honour" to be elected after undergoing "one of the longest job interviews in history."

"I campaigned as a Conservative, and I will govern as a Conservative," she said, touting Tory values of low taxes and personal responsibility.

Truss vowed a "bold plan" to address tax cuts and the energy crisis. 

Details are expected in the coming days.

Truss will become the UK's third female prime minister following Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher.

The 47-year-old consistently led 42-year-old Sunak in polling. The leadership contest began in July after Johnson announced his departure following a slew of scandals and resignations from his government. Postal and online voting closed Friday after eight weeks of campaigning.

Truss told The Daily Mail that as prime minister she would "do everything in my power to make sure everyone, no matter where they are from, has the opportunity to go as far as their talent and hard work takes them".

However, she faces a tough task in winning over general public opinion.

A YouGov poll in late August found 52 percent thought Truss would make a "poor" or "terrible" prime minister.

Forty-three percent said they did not trust her "at all" to deal with the burning issue of the rise in the cost of living.

 

'Worst in-tray'

Truss faces "the worst in-tray for a new prime minister since Thatcher," The Sunday Times wrote.

The UK is gripped by its worst cost-of-living crisis in generations, with inflation soaring into double digits and energy prices shooting up on the back of Russia's war in Ukraine. 

Millions say that with bills set to rise by 80 percent from October – and even higher from January – they face a painful choice between eating and heating this winter, according to surveys. 

"If I'm elected prime minister, I will act immediately on bills and on energy supply," Truss told the BBC on Sunday, while declining to go into details.

British newspapers, including The Times and Daily Telegraph, reported Monday that she was considering freezing energy bills for consumers, with the government reimbursing suppliers.

Truss has campaigned on a promise to slash taxes and prioritise economic growth, with Britain tipped to enter recession later this year.

She said Sunday she would "within a month present a full plan for how we are going to reduce taxes" and "get the British economy going."

Polls show public support for an early general election and the Conservatives face a growing challenge to retain their 12-year grip on power.

 

Background

Truss became foreign minister a year ago after holding a series of ministerial posts in departments including education, international trade and justice.

She began her political journey as a teenage member of the centrist Liberal Democrats before switching to the right-wing Conservatives.

In 2016, she campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union but quickly switched allegiance when Britons backed Brexit.

Her dress sense and love of photo opportunities – posing in a tank in Estonia and wearing a fur hat in Moscow – have earned her comparisons to Tory icon Thatcher.

Her sometimes stiff style has become visibly more relaxed and allies have sought to soften her image, revealing her love of karaoke and socialising.

 

– TIMES/AFP

 

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