London (AFP) – Liz Truss She became the prime minister of the United Kingdom on Tuesday and was immediately faced with the daunting tasks that lie ahead: reining in high prices, boosting the economy, easing labor unrest and reforming a national health care system burdened by long waiting lists and staff shortages.
Truss soon begins appointing senior members to her cabinet as she deals with an incoming mail dominated by the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.which threatens to pay energy bills To unsustainable levels, closing businesses and leaving the country’s poorest people Shivering at home this winter.
Truss – Britain’s third female prime minister – has appointed a large team that is diverse in gender and ethnicity, but loyal to her and her free market policies. Kwasi Quarting became the UK’s first black female head of the Treasury, and Teresa Coffey the first female deputy prime minister. Other appointments include James Cleverly as Secretary of State and Suella Braverman as Secretary of the Interior, responsible for immigration and law and order.
Truss, who gave her first speech outside her new Downing Street home on a break between heavy rain, said she would cut taxes to spur economic growth, support the National Health Service and “deal directly” with the energy crisis, although she gave few details on how These policies will be implemented. It is expected to reveal its energy plans on Thursday.
British media reported that Truss plans to put an end to energy bills. The move could cost taxpayers 100 billion pounds ($116 billion).
“We should not be intimidated by the challenges we face,” Truss said in her first speech. as prime minister. “No matter how strong the storm, I know that the British people are stronger.”
Truss, 47, took office earlier in the day at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, when Queen Elizabeth II formally asked her to form a new government in a ceremony. It is dictated by centuries of tradition. Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally resigned during his meeting with the Queen shortly before, two months after he announced his intention to step down.
It was the first time in the Queen’s 70-year reign that power was handed over at Balmoral, rather than at Buckingham Palace in London. The ceremony has been moved to Scotland to confirm the schedule, as the 96-year-old Queen has had mobility issues that have forced palace officials to make decisions about her travel on a daily basis.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky received a call from Truss on her first day. I spoke with US President Joe Biden as well.
Ze Books; emslyy on Twitter: “I was the first to have a conversation between foreign leaders with the newly elected British Prime Minister, Liz Truss. Inviting her to Ukraine. I thanked the British people for their leadership in military and economic support to Ukraine.”
Biden, who worked closely with Johnson in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was quick to congratulate Truss.
“I look forward to deepening the special relationship between our two countries and working in close cooperation on global challenges, including continued support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression,” he said on Twitter.
Truss’s office said she and Biden discussed the Ukraine war and defense cooperation, as well as economic issues and maintaining the British-Irish Good Friday Agreement. The leaders were expected to meet in person soon — likely around this month’s United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.
Truss became prime minister a day after the ruling Conservative Party chose her as party leader in an election in which 172,000 fee-paying party members were the only electors. As party leader, Truss automatically became prime minister without the need for a general election because the Conservatives still had a majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons.
But as a national leader chosen by less than 0.5% of British adults, Truss is under pressure to show fast results.
Ed Davey, the leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, on Tuesday called for a snap election in October – something that Truss and the Conservative Party are highly unlikely to do as the Conservatives are lagging in the polls.
Johnson, 58, became prime minister three years ago after his predecessor, Theresa May, failed to deliver Brexit. Johnson subsequently won an 80-seat majority in Parliament with a promise to “get Brexit done”.
But he was forced out of office by a series of scandals that culminated in the resignations of dozens of government ministers and lower-level officials in early July.
Johnson always said it was colorful, “like one of those booster rockets that did its job.”
“I will now gently re-enter the atmosphere and fall invisibly into a remote and mysterious corner of the Pacific,” he said.
Many people in Britain are still learning about their new leader, a one-time accountant who entered Parliament in 2010.
Unlike Johnson, who made himself a media celebrity long before he became prime minister, Truss quietly rose through the Conservative ranks before she was appointed Secretary of State, one of the top Cabinet posts, just a year ago.
Truss is under pressure to explain how she plans to help consumers pay home energy bills that are set to rise to an average of 3,500 pounds ($4,000) a year – three times last year’s cost – on October 1 unless she steps in.
Food and energy prices soared as a result of the invasion of Ukraine And the aftermath of COVID-19 and Brexit, pushed UK inflation over 10% For the first time in four decades. The Bank of England expects it to reach 13.3% in October, and that the UK will slip into a prolonged recession by the end of the year.
Train drivers, port employees, garbage collectors, postal workers and lawyers have staged strikes to demand higher wages to keep up with inflation, and millions more, from teachers to nurses, could withdraw in the next few months.
In theory, Truss has time to make his mark: She doesn’t have to call a national election until late 2024. But opinion polls are already giving the opposition Labor a steady lead, and the worse the economy gets, the more pressure grows.
In addition to Britain’s internal problems, Truss and her new government will also face multiple crises in foreign policy, including the war in Ukraine and frosty relations with the European Union after Brexit.
Truss, as foreign minister, was a staunch supporter of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia.
Truss also pledged to increase UK defense spending to 3% of GDP from just over 2% – another costly promise.
Outside both houses of Parliament, Rebecca McDougall, 55, who works in law enforcement, said time will tell if Truss can turn things around.
McDougall noted that she “makes promises for that, saying she will deliver, deliver, deliver.” “But we will see in the next few weeks, hopefully, some announcements that will help the average working person.”
Associated Press writers Susie Blan, Sylvia Hoy, Joanna Kozlowska and Quyun Ha in London and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this story.
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