(LONDON) — The United Kingdom’s Conservative Party announced Monday that it has selected Liz Truss as its new leader, putting her in line to be confirmed as the country’s prime minister.
Truss beat rival Rishi Sunak in a leadership election, in which only the 180,000 dues-paying members of the ruling party were allowed to vote. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to formally name Truss as prime minister on Tuesday.
In a speech following her victory, Truss said it was an “honor” to be elected and paid tribute to her “friend” Boris Johnson, whom she will be succeeding. She will become the U.K.’s fourth prime minister since 2016 and the country’s third female premier ever.
Truss previously served as the foreign secretary under Johnson’s Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the exchequer whose resignation helped bring about Johnson’s downfall in July.
Members of the Conservative Party cast their votes after eight weeks of campaigning, with Truss — a supporter of Johnson’s who said she did not back his resignation — emerging as the overwhelming favorite.
The leadership campaign was dominated by questions about what both candidates would do to tackle a looming economic crisis, with household energy bills set to skyrocket this winter and inflation, already at a four-decade high at 10.1%, is expected to rise further according to the Bank of England. The leadership hopefuls clashed most fiercely on the issue of tax, with Truss saying she would not raise taxes, while Sunak has supported a windfall tax on energy companies’ profits to help ease the burden on households.
Truss has promised action on the energy crisis within a week of taking office, though she has not spelled out her plans in any detail and refused to elaborate when questioned by the BBC on Sunday.
Truss will also have the task of uniting a divided Conservative Party. Johnson’s tenure in office was dogged by scandal – most notably with the issue of ‘Partygate’ – the illegal gatherings held in government residences while the country was under lockdown. While his supporters will remember him for securing a huge election victory, Brexit and support for Ukraine, his detractors say Johnson’s conduct and flexible relationship with the truth damaged the Conservative Party brand.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, said that the appointment of a fourth Conservative prime minister in recent years did not mark a “new dawn” for Britain.
“As summer turns to autumn, the shadows of crisis are lengthening, looming over the whole country,” he wrote. “There is no sign that either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss have grasped the scale of what is facing us, let alone possesses the answers to it.”
Truss will not be formally installed as the new prime minister until Tuesday after Johnson formally submits his resignation to the Queen at Balmoral and his successor is then invited to form a government.
“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister,” Johnson said on the steps of Downing Street when he announced his resignation. “I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world… But them’s the breaks.”
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