Britain’s Conservative Party has announced its new leader is Liz Truss, who has served as foreign minister for the past 12 months. She will be formally appointed as the next prime minister by Queen Elizabeth, likely on Tuesday afternoon.
“I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy,” Truss said in her victory speech, adding that she will also take on challenges from high energy bills to the National Health Service.
The result follows a nationwide vote by the party’s grassroots members that lasted several weeks this summer. Truss will become the country’s fourth leader in a politically turbulent six-year period.
It marks only the third time in history that a woman will assume power in 10 Downing Street, but the third time in recent years that a change of prime minister has occurred without a national general election.
“We will deliver, we will deliver, and we will deliver,” Truss said, echoing a key campaign theme. “And we will deliver a great victory for the Conservative Party in 2024” — when the next national elections are slated to be held.
Truss replaces Boris Johnson, who was laid low by a succession of scandals that crescendoed in the first half of this year. After losing support of not only the majority of his fellow Conservative legislators, but also many of his own ministers, he was forced to resign.
Truss spent the summer campaigning against Rishi Sunak, the U.K.’s former finance minister who was her rival for the Conservative leadership. The contest was decided by the votes of almost 142,000 party members. Truss secured more than 81,000 of those votes, the lowest proportion of any leader in recent history.
Johnson has continued to serve as a caretaker leader for the past few months, and he is expected to meet with the monarch in Scotland on Tuesday to tender his official resignation.
As new leader, Truss will likely make a statement outside 10 Downing Street later Tuesday. She will immediately face responsibility for a rapidly escalating energy crisis in Britain, with both consumers and companies facing record high gas and electricity costs thanks to the war in Ukraine, and the corresponding rise in inflation threatening to tip the country into a major recession.
Truss, who had already been dubbed “PM in waiting” by one British newspaper, said in an interview with the BBC this weekend that she will formulate proposals to combat this economic challenge within days, and is aiming to “act immediately.”
Earlier in the leadership contest, Truss did not command as much support among fellow Conservative legislators as her opponent Sunak. And even though Sunak has promised to support a new government even if he is not leader, political analysts have said it will be difficult for Truss to unify her divided Conservatives, who still enjoy a sizable majority in the country’s parliament — thanks, ironically, to Johnson’s huge success as a campaigner during the last national elections.
At the announcement, the party’s co-chairman, Andrew Stevenson, said the long, drawn-out contest this summer — involving the two “fantastic” candidates fielding hundreds of questions from tens of thousands of members — showed that the party remained “in good voice and good strength.” He also drew a long round of applause when he thanked Johnson, who “rose to the challenge and delivered,” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently the conflict in Ukraine. Truss also thanked Johnson, describing him as a friend who was “admired from Kyiv to Carlisle.”
Before announcing the result, Sir Graham Brady, who oversees the committee of Conservative legislators responsible for selecting a new leader, said the ballot had been “free and fair,” thanked the party members and all candidates, and said both Truss and Sunak were “outstanding” and had run “excellent campaigns.”