UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was on Monday declared to be the winner of the Conservative Party leadership race, thus becoming the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Truss defeated former Chancellor Rishi Sunak to become only the third woman to be the UK Prime Minister. The first was Margaret Thatcher (1979–90) and the second was Theresa May (2016-19).
The victory of Truss is in line with expectations. While Sunak had emerged as a frontrunner in the earlier polling, Truss had dominated much of the recent race with AFP reporting on Friday that while MPs favoured Sunak, the rank and file of the Conservative Party favoured Truss. Had Sunak won, he would have been the first person of Indian heritage to be the Prime Minister of UK.
The result was formally announced by the returning officer of the leadership contest and chair of the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, Sir Graham Brady, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre near Downing Street. He said Truss won 81,326 votes compared to Sunak's share of 60,399 votes.
Truss's pledge to cut taxes and her loyalty to outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson are believed to supporter her cause. The Conservatives see Sunak as having betrayed Johnson by resigning from his Cabinet in the run-up to Johnson's announcement of resignation.
Truss’ campaign pledge to reverse Sunak’s tax hike plans while he was Chancellor to tackle the cost-of-living crisis facing the country seems to have worked in favour. While Sunak's approach of wanting to focus on fighting soaring inflation and using targeted measures to offer support to those most in need did connect with audiences at the nearly dozen party hustings, that clearly wasn't enough to turn the tide in his favour.
Now elected party leader, it won’t be until Tuesday afternoon that Truss can formally lay claim to her new office at 10 Downing Street – after predecessor Johnson hands in his formal resignation to the Queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
It will be followed soon after by Truss’ first audience as PM-elect with the 96-year-old monarch, after which she will be flown back to London to begin announcing her new Cabinet top team.
Though victorious, there will be little honeymoon period for Truss as she would have to get on the job from day one as the UK faces a severe cost of living crisis. There is also the issue of Russian invasion of Ukraine and West's ongoing competition with China, which are also likely to be her focus areas the Prime Minister of UK. As Foreign Secretary, she has rich experience of international affairs.
"An emergency budget is expected within the first month to set out how she will bolster the economy amid sustained low growth, soaring inflation, flat-lining wages and the very real prospect of recession," reported The Guardian, outlining the issues she faces.
(With PTI inputs)