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Montevideo, October 3rd 2023 - 05:04 UTC



Tories pick Liz Truss to become UK's next PM

Monday, September 5th 2022 - 23:13 UTC
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The current Foreign Secretary was full of praise for her departing friend: Boris Johnson The current Foreign Secretary was full of praise for her departing friend: Boris Johnson

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss beat former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak by 81,326 votes to 60,399 and will thus become the British Conservative Party's New Leader who is to be appointed Prime Minister Tuesday by Queen Elizabeth II in Balmoral Castle.

The monarch is first to accept the resignation of the incumbent Boris Johnson before requesting Truss to form a new government.

Sunak's resignation sparked Johnson's downfall and many analysts regard Truss' loyalty to the Prime Minister no matter how deep in disgrace he was as a key factor in the outcome of the Conservative Party's elections.

“Boris, you got Brexit done, you crushed Jeremy Corbyn, you rolled out the vaccine and you stood up to Vladimir Putin. You were admired from Kyiv to Carlisle,” said Truss Monday in her triumph speech after thanking “our outgoing leader,” whom she called “my friend.”

“Congratulations to @trussliz on her decisive win. I know she has the right plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, unite our party and continue the great work of uniting and leveling up our country,” Johnson said. “Now is the time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100 percent.”

Sunak thanked “everyone who voted for me” but added that “Conservatives are one family” and will “now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times.”

On the other hand, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted that “I’d like to congratulate our next prime minister Liz Truss as she prepares for office... but But after 12 years of the Tories all we have to show for it is low wages, high prices, and a Tory cost-of-living crisis.“ Starmer stressed that “Only Labour can deliver the fresh start our country needs.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called for a general election, saying it is ”time to scrap the energy price hike.”

The Queen will receive Johnson Tuesday, where he will formally tender his resignation, after which Truss will be invited to form a government and take over as PM.

Since 2012, Truss has held a series of ministerial posts in the education and finance departments, as well as a difficult spell in justice. In 2016, she campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union (EU) but quickly became one of its strongest supporters when Britons voted for Brexit.

When the UK left the EU, Johnson entrusted her with negotiating new free trade deals before appointing her as foreign secretary.

The 47-year-old foreign secretary won the victory Monday after a two-month Conservative Party leadership contest that began with 11 candidates and ended with a runoff against Sunak. Truss will now become only the third woman to serve as Britain's prime minister after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.

Truss had pledged to tackle the cost-of-living crisis through tax cuts among other announcements she is expected to make Tuesday from 10 Downing Street after returning from Scotland.

Truss's daunting challenges include fixing a weakened National Health Service in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, overcoming industrial unrest and strikes in areas such as education and transport, and navigating a strained relationship with the European Union that could yet end in a trade war.

Truss's immediate priority will be to quickly develop plans to help struggling households cope with soaring energy bills, which are forecast to triple this winter from last year. She has promised an emergency budget in her first month in office, likely before Parliament recesses on Sept. 22.

In addition to help for households, the measures could include a commercial rate cut for SMEs which are not protected by a regulatory price cap on energy bills and have been asking for help. Other pledges made by Truss during the contest include scrapping next year's planned rise in corporation tax from 19% to 25%, promising not to introduce new taxes, and specifically ruling out any new windfall tax on energy profits to fund help for households, even as a Treasury analysis estimates that the sector will generate as much as £170 billion of excess profits over the next two years.

According to analysts, Truss aspires to become a new Margaret Thatcher. She mimics her way of dressing, the tone of her voice and has engraved in her DNA the most ultra-conservative principles available. In 2012 she co-authored Britannia Unchained, a book in which she proposed a free market to the letter: less state, fewer labor laws, fewer taxes and regulations, and a “work culture” like that of the Asians because the British were among “the laziest in the world.”

“We are convinced that the UK's best days are not behind us. Let us not listen to the siren songs of the statists who are happy for the UK to be a second-rate power in Europe and a third-rate power in the world. The decline is not inevitable,” Truss pointed out with his co-authors.

Those were the days of David Cameron, under whom the Conservatives implemented the most brutal adjustment program in decades.

Even in this extreme framework, Truss realized she could not repeat that British workers were lazy, and insisted that the quote was from co-author and current rival Dominic Raab. The Guardian newspaper refreshed her memory a bit by releasing a leaked recording when she was Treasury minister (2017-2019), in which she deplored “the lack of attitude” of workers outside London. “In China things, they are not like that, I can assure you,” she said with a wry laugh.

In the British parliamentary system, the choice of a successor to a prime minister who resigns or dies is made by the majority party in the House of Commons according to its internal rules. In the Conservative Party rules, MPs vote first until the initial list of candidates is reduced to two. The final judgment rests with the Conservative Party members.

Most of the Conservative Party members were over 60 years old, live in rural areas, and are fixated on the glory moments of national history. Truss' message was aimed at them. And it worked.

Like any other dogmatism, Truss's is characterized by dispensing with data. Despite the corporate tax cuts of the last five decades, the UK has long been the economy with the lowest level of public and private investment among the G7 countries. Far from being lazy, the British work longer hours than the European average and many more than the French and Germans.

The UK labor market is one of the most deregulated in the developed world, workplace surveillance in some cases reaches quasi-police limits, the right to strike is restricted, and yet productivity levels are low. The average G7 worker produces 13% more than the British worker.

At any rate, massive discontent is growing among Britons.

Categories: Politics, International.

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