Liz Truss announced new Conservative Party Leader Liz Truss announced new Conservative Party Leader  (ANSA)

Liz Truss named as Britain's next Prime Minister amid recession fears

Liz Truss has been elected Britain's prime minister and the new leader of the Conservative Party, beating her main political party rival in a crucial party vote as recession fears overshadow the election.

By Stefan J. Bos

Ms. Truss won her Conservative Party's hard-fought contest to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson after what she called "one of the longest job interviews in history."

The official results, announced amid loud applause, showed that she received 81,326 votes against 60,399 for Rishi Sunak. She paid tribute to the outgoing premier, who was pressured to quit after a series of scandals, calling him "My friend Boris Johnson."

She also said: "Boris, you got Brexit done," referring to Britain's exit from the European Union. "You crushed [former Labour Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn; you rolled out the (Covid-19) vaccine. And you stood up to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin. You were admired from Kyiv to Carlisle," she added.

In response to her win, English Cardinal Vincent Nichols congratulated Ms. Truss and urged her to quickly tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Soaring energy bills

The 47-year-old married mother of two said she realized she would take over the political leadership in a nation facing the specter of a deep recession amid soaring energy bills and potential fuel shortages.

"During this leadership campaign, I campaigned as a Conservative, and I will govern as a conservative," she told party delegates. "And my friends, we need to show that we will deliver over the next two years," Ms. Truss added.

"I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy. I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people's energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply," Ms. Truss pledged.

She also promised to reform the struggling National Health Service, NHS.

Dealing with a tough issue

But opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer expressed his doubts, saying she is "not on the side of working people."

"We've heard far more from the latest prime minister about cuts to corporation tax over the summer than we have about the cost-of-living crisis, the single most important thing that's bearing down on so many millions of households," he told reporters.

“That shows not only that she's out of touch, but she's not on the side of working people. So she needs to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, she needs to deal with the fact the NHS is on its knees, and she needs to deal with the collapse of law and order," Mr. Starmer argued.

"There can be no justification for not freezing energy prices. There's a political consensus that needs to happen. She needs to ask the question of how she's going to pay for that," the opposition politician stressed. Labour, he added, "made it clear, it needs to be a windfall tax on oil and gas companies." So, "she needs to show that she actually understands and can meet the challenges that are there after 12 years of failure of this Tory Government," Mr. Starmer said.

Thatcherite model

Liz Truss rose from the obscurity and loneliness of being an opposition councilor on a Labour-dominated local authority to the biggest job.

She says her icon is the late deeply conservative Prime Minister Margareth Thatcher, a woman she claims "turned the country around during difficult times."

It's now up to Truss to show that she has similar qualities.

She is to become prime minister on Tuesday, after a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at her summer retreat, Balmoral Castle, in Scotland.

Ms. Truss minister will then speak at her official residence at 10 Downing Street in London before announcing the new cabinet and getting to work as the 15th prime minister under the queen's reign.

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05 September 2022, 16:42