British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has won the race for the leadership of the ruling Conservative Party, as follows from the results of an internal party vote, declared on Monday.
Truss, 47, received the votes of 81,326 rank-and-file Conservatives. Her rival, former finance minister Rishi Sunak, 42 got 60,399 votes. As the leader of the ruling party, Truss will replace Boris Johnson as prime minister on September 6 and appoint a new Cabinet.
Truss will become Britain’s 56th Prime Minister.
Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to formally name Truss as Britain’s Prime Minister tomorrow. And for the records, Truss will become Queen Elizabeth II’s 15th Prime Minister.
The ceremony will take place at the queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland, where the monarch is vacationing, rather than at Buckingham Palace.
The two-month leadership contest left Britain with a power vacuum at a time when consumers, workers and businesses were demanding government action to mitigate the impact of soaring food and energy prices.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has had no authority to make major policy decisions since July 7, when he announced his intention to resign.
Truss’ meteoric rise in just a year, from little-known minister to the doorstep of No. 10 Downing Street, is the result of her unswerving loyalty to party leaders, her hard work, and a keen understanding of the prevailing mood among the Tories’ mainly male, old and affluent membership.
It’s what enabled the girl who was born into a family that she describes as to the left of Britain’s Labour party, who went on marches against nuclear arms and the iconic Margaret Thatcher, and who as a student activist called for the abolishment of the monarchy, to become Her Majesty’s First Lord of the Treasury and step into Mrs. Thatcher’s shoes.
And despite having been in favor of Britain remaining in the European Union (as a faithful follower of then-Prime Minister David Cameron), she was quick to “realize the error of my ways” and shift to an ultra-Brexiteer position within the party.
She overcame her main rival mainly because, unlike Sunak’s resignation as chancellor of the Exchequer that played a big role in bringing down Johnson, she remained loyal to him until the very end. And also because, despite the massive energy crisis facing Britain this coming winter, she repeated the low taxes/small government mantras so beloved of the Conservatives, while Sunak insisted on presented an actual economic plan. Only 32 percent of the party’s lawmakers voted for her, but once the decision became that of the 172,000 party members, she was on her way to the top.
Truss was preferred simply because she was known to Israelis – unlike Sunak, who has never dealt with foreign policy or visited Israel.
The biggest headache she will face from Day One is the energy crisis that will impact every British household (and many small businesses) this winter. As she becomes party leader and prime minister, the Conservatives are lagging behind Labour by around 10 percentage points in the polls.
Truss will inherit a solid parliamentary majority from Johnson and in theory can continue until the end of 2024 without having an election. But as a prime minister elected by only her party members, the lack of a national mandate may make it hard for her to make difficult decisions.
Over the last couple of days, Truss’ aides have been briefing the media about her plans for a massive emergency aid package for Britons facing the cost-of-living crisis and to cap energy prices. It isn’t quite clear how this squares with her low taxation and noninterventionist pledges.
She also faces major challenges from Scottish nationalists who are agitating for another independence referendum, and on the legal quagmire of Northern Ireland trade after Brexit.