Nearly 8 weeks after Boris Johnson reluctantly announced his resignation on the steps of 10 Downing Street, Britain has finally chosen a fresh leader: Liz Truss.
Its an honour to be elected as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. Id prefer to thank the 1922 Committee, the party chairman of the Conservative Party, for organizing among the longest job interviews ever sold, Truss joked, following the results were announced on Monday. Id also prefer to thank my children, my friends, my political colleagues, and all those who helped with this campaign. Im incredibly grateful for several of one’s support.
Trusss victory over her leadership rival, the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, have been widely seen as a formality in Westminster. She quickly emerged the runaway favorite on the list of Conservative Partys card-carrying members (second and then her erstwhile boss). Regardless of the U.K.s soon-to-be third female leaders efforts to market herself because the ideological reincarnate of its first, Margaret Thatcher, Truss could very well be most aptly viewed as the continuity Johnson candidate. As well as perhaps equally well: After she actually is formally appointed Prime Minister by the Queen on Sept. 6, Trusss first order of business is to tackle the countless crises that her predecessor left out.
Heres what things to find out about her.
Who’s Liz Truss?
Known to be a political chameleon, Truss has worn several ideological hats during the period of her life. Born in Oxford to a left-wing family, Trusss childhood often involved joining her mother on demonstrations and only nuclear disarmament and against Thatchers Conservative government, which ushered in sweeping economic reforms centered around free markets, privatization, and a little state. As students at Oxford University, she led the centrist Liberal Democrats student society and advocated for the abolition of the monarchy. She later switched her allegiance to the Conservative Partya transition she related to maturity. (Most of us had teenage misadventures, Truss told Conservative voters on the campaign trail. Some individuals had sex, drugs, and rock n roll. I had the Liberal Democrats.)
Revelations that Truss had an affair in the first 2000s with a Conservative lawmaker 10 years her senior threatened to derail her parliamentary ambitions. But she was elected an MP in 2010 and rose through the Tory ranks. In 2014, Truss became the countrys youngest female cabinet minister as environmental secretary in David Camerons government and ultimately continued to serve in the cabinets of Theresa May and Johnson.
Through the 2016 Brexit referendum, just six years into her tenure as a Conservative lawmaker, Truss became a vocal proponent for the U.K. in which to stay the E.U., calling Brexit a triple tragedy advocated by those surviving in cloud cuckoo land.
Six years on, Truss can be an arch-Brexiteer and a standard-bearer of the countrys Euroskeptic, Thatcherite right-winga position that made her the natural darling of the Conservative Party faithful. She describes herself as relentless, that could help explain her rapid rise through the Conservative ranks. She actually is also viewed as fiercely loyal, having been mostly of the ministers never to resign through the fall of Johnsons scandal-plagued premiership. To her critics, however, she actually is a political opportunistsomeone who is able to tack rapidly and completely to whatever position suits her at that time.
So how exactly does she compare to Boris Johnson?
From everything Truss has said on the campaign trail, it really is clear that she actually is broadly continuity Johnson, says Gavin Barwell, a former Conservative minister and chief of staff to ex-Prime Minister Theresa May. On matters of foreign policy, Truss is in lockstep with her predecessor, particularly when it involves support for Ukraine. On economic policy, however, Truss advocates for tax cuts and will be offering a perhaps a lot more divergent view in a few areasparticularly with regards to social spending, where Johnson had bucked his partys views on limited government.
Like Johnson, Truss is well known for having a goofy public personaone that’s best illustrated by her viral speech on British pork markets. What remains to be observed, however, is whether she’ll have the ability to match Johnsons popularity, especially on the list of Tory grassroots. Hardly any people could match Boris Johsons charismatic appeal, says Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University in London and the top of a study project concentrating on the membership of the U.K.s main political parties. Liz Truss certainly cant.
Possibly the important commonality will undoubtedly be whether Truss chooses to keep the Johnsonian legacy of undermining British political norms and conventions. Like Johnson, Truss has indicated that she might not appoint a fresh ethics adviser, a job that is in charge of advising the Prime Minister on ethics in public areas life. The final two advisers quit on the Johnson governments failure to stick to the ministerial code of conduct. However the way Truss sees it, her government wont be needing such monitoring. I’m anyone who has always acted with integrity, she said on the campaign trail, which is what I’d do as Prime Minister.
What do other world leaders label of her?
As Foreign Secretary, Truss has already established a lot of face time with world leaders. But she actually is bound to handle major challenges, especially over her relationship with the U.K.s European allies. Relations between your U.K. and the E.U. soured earlier this season after Truss introduced legislation that threatens to unilaterally undermine the delicate post-Brexit trading arrangements on the island of Irelandwhich is separated by Northern Ireland, that is portion of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland, that is an E.U. member state. As an applicant, Truss pledged to provide on legislation that may unilaterally scrap checks on goods going between Northern Ireland and all of those other U.K., despite concerns that it might breach international law.
Truss drew further criticism on the campaign trail for saying that the jurys out on whether French President Emmanuel Macron is really a friend or foe of the U.K. (Macron, in a seemingly exasperated response, reaffirmed that the U.K. is really a friendly nation, regardless, and sometimes regardless of, its leaders.)
That reflected her real gut feeling about coping with the Europeans, says Peter Ricketts, a former British diplomat who served because the U.K.s ambassador to France. I believe were headed into even rougher waters with the Europeans, even than under Johnson.
Another important relationship to view will undoubtedly be with the White House. Truss has reportedly expressed less enthusiasm for the so-called special relationship between your U.S. and the U.K. than past prime ministers. Although she’ll undoubtedly continue the close cooperation between London and Washington, particularly when it involves shared policy on Russia and China, there’s bound to be friction with the Biden Administration over her plans to proceed with rewriting the Northern Ireland Protocol.
What’s she against?
At this time, it will be better to list what she isnt against. Trusss intray is filled up with numerous crises left from the Johnson era, probably the most daunting which may be the countrys cost-of-living crisis. Britons are facing a winter where their household energy bills could rise by an eye-watering 80%; in July inflation hit a 40-year most of 10.1%. Truss has pledged to create passing a crisis budget among her first orders of business, though she’s been tight-lipped about just what her package of support will entail.
As well as the U.K.s economic challenges, Truss may also have to cope with looming political crises, and not simply in Northern Ireland. Over in Scotland, the Scottish Nationalist Party will undoubtedly be awaiting next months U.K. Supreme Court hearing on if the devolved Scottish government can take an independence referendum minus the consent of Westminsterthe upshot of that could renew concentrate on the fate of the British Union and Trusss capability to preserve it. Support for Scottish independence has surged in the years following BrexitScotland had voted heavily and only Remainreaching a higher of 55% this past year. So far as the SNP lawmaker Stewart McDonald can be involved, Trusss government it’s still voter repellent to many people in Scotland, in the same way Johnsons was.
Beyond these crises, Truss in addition has for attending the tiny matter of uniting her party following a bruising leadership campaign. While this might not be an excessive amount of challenging with regards to making peace with her formal leadership rivals, many of whom are increasingly being tipped for plum jobs in her cabinet, it might prove more challenging if her predecessor chooses to play an outsized role in affairs. Like other ex-PMs, Johnson will undoubtedly be reprising his role in parliament as a rank-and-file MP. But Johnsons biggest challenge to Truss is probably not from the backbenches. I suspect hell get back to writing a normal newspaper column, and that may continually be newsworthy given the type of person he could be, says Barwell. And thats likely to be really challenging for the Prime Minister.
Will Truss last?
The U.K.s next general election isnt because of happen until late 2024 or January 2025. Truss could technically require a snap election before then, though it will be highly unusual given the Conservative Partys large majority in parliament and the opposition Labour Partys significant lead in the polls. But that doesnt imply that Truss is guaranteed to last to another electionthe Tories have a habit of booting leaders out. She could end up being the final in this type of Conservative prime ministers, says Ricketts. Shes the fourth in six years. Thats a fairly fast turnover for British politics.
Write to Yasmeen Serhan at email@example.com.