Liz Truss's Challenge: Elected by 0.5% of Nation

New British PM will be under pressure to deliver quickly or call an early election
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 6, 2022 11:43 AM CDT
Liz Truss Meets Queen, Charts Her Course
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II welcomes Liz Truss during an audience at Balmoral, Scotland, on Tuesday.   (Jane Barlow/Pool Photo via AP)

Liz Truss became UK prime minister on Tuesday and immediately confronted the enormous task ahead of her to curb soaring prices, ease labor unrest, and fix a health care system burdened by long waiting lists and staff shortages. At the top of her inbox is the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which threatens to push energy bills to unaffordable levels, shuttering businesses and leaving the nation’s poorest people shivering in icy homes this winter. Truss, who refused to spell out her energy strategy during the two-month campaign to succeed Boris Johnson, now plans to cap energy bills at a cost to taxpayers of as much as $116 billion, British news media reported Tuesday. She is expected to unveil her plan on Thursday.

“We shouldn’t be daunted by the challenges we face," she said in her first speech outside her Downing Street office, per the AP. “As strong as the storm may be, I know the British people are stronger." She promised to grow the economy and make the UK an “aspiration nation,” but acknowledged the country faces “severe global headwinds” because of COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine. Truss, 47, took office Tuesday afternoon at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, when Queen Elizabeth II formally asked her to form a new government in a carefully choreographed ceremony dictated by centuries of tradition.

Truss became prime minister a day after the ruling Conservative Party chose her as its leader in an election where the party’s 172,000 dues-paying members were the only voters. As party leader, Truss automatically became prime minister without the need for a general election because the Conservatives still have a majority in the House of Commons. But as a national leader selected by less than 0.5% of British adults, Truss is under pressure to show quick results. Ed Davey, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, on Tuesday called for an early election in October—something that Truss and the Conservative Party are unlikely to do since the Tories are slumping in the polls. (None of Britain's top four positions will be filled by a white man for the first time in history.)

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