Truss, 47, takes office after winning the most votes in the Conservative Party leadership race to replace Johnson, who announced his resignation in July. His appointment fills a months-long leadership vacuum the UK has endured as its worst economic crisis in decades intensified.
Truss’ to-do list is long, with the country facing a deepening cost-of-living crisis, a crumbling health service and a seemingly endless wave of labor strikes.
The Bank of England expects inflation in the UK to rise to 13% as the energy crisis intensifies and the country slips into recession before the end of the year. Goldman Sachs has warned that inflation could even reach 22% if natural gas prices “remain high at current levels”.
Truss said on Monday that she would “present a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy. I will be delivering on the energy crisis – managing people’s energy bills but also addressing the long-term issues we we have on the energy supply. And I will deliver on the National Health Service.”
Truss was officially installed as Prime Minister on Tuesday after visiting Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle, one of Scotland’s break-with-standards royal estates.
Truss’ meeting with the monarch came shortly after Johnson met the Queen to formally step down as Prime Minister.
“Like Cincinnatus, I return to my plow and will offer this government nothing but my fervent support”, in reference to a Roman statesman who, according to legend, devoted himself to the republic in times of crisis. “It’s time for all of us to support Liz Truss, her team and her program.”
Upon her return to London, Truss is expected to be greeted in Downing Street by her new staff. Then he will be asked to sign the UK’s infamous Letters of Last Resort – instructions for military leaders on what to do if the government falls or is knocked out in a nuclear attack – before starting to appoint a cabinet.
Truss is also expected to outline its plans to tackle the UK’s urgent cost of living crisis as soon as possible. His political opponents, both inside and outside the Conservative Party, will not find it acceptable if the new leader does not present specific policies within the next 48 hours.
Truss will then face opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer for his first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, which will be seen by his team as an important moment to set the tone for his leadership .
Particular attention will be paid to the extent to which Truss deviates from Johnson’s legislative agenda, especially since she was seen as Johnson’s continuity candidate in the leadership race.
Who is Liz Truss?
Truss, who recently served as foreign secretary in Johnson’s government, is following Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May to become Britain’s third female prime minister.
In recent years, Truss has been compared to Thatcher, who for many on the right remains the benchmark for conservative leaders. She was a ruthless and uncompromising leader who took on the unions and played an important role in ending the Cold War. Like Thatcher, Truss has come from relatively humble beginnings to dominate a world inhabited largely by men.
Truss ran his leadership campaign on a classic Conservative platform, promising tax cuts for citizens and no new taxes for businesses, including ruling out a one-off tax on energy companies to deal with the crisis cost of living in the UK.
Analysts are skeptical that Truss’ tax cut policies will help citizens much, especially after a decade of conservative austerity policies. The Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent research group focused on public finance, said last month that Truss and rival Rishi Sunak, who were both promising tax cuts and lower government spending, “must recognize this even greater than usual uncertainty in public finances.”
Although she voted to remain in the European Union in 2016, in recent years she has become one of the EU’s most vocal critics and Brexit supporters.
But critics have accused his new hardline stance on Brexit of being a cynical ploy. They pointed to the fact that throughout her adult life, Truss evolved from a liberal anti-monarchist Democrat in favor of drug legalization in her youth to the embodiment of the conservative right today. .
Ahead of the Brexit referendum, Truss said she ‘supported staying because I think it’s in Britain’s economic interest and means we can focus on vital economic and social reform at home “. Her cabinet colleagues at the time said she never expressed opposition to staying in the EU, although she had plenty of opportunities to do so.
These days, Truss is more than happy to do battle with Brussels and claim that it’s the EU that has always held back the UK economy.
Truss’ victory over Sunak, the former finance secretary, was weaker than expected, meaning she may have to adjust to a wider range of views in her party. That could mean embracing more of Sunak’s ideas about the cost-of-living crisis and a less aggressive approach to tax cuts.
Many Tory MPs privately fear that Truss’ modern Thatcherism will cost them the next election and will jump on the surprisingly small margin of victory to encourage him to soften his economic stance.