Truss beat rival Rishi Sunak with 81,326 votes to 60,399 among party members and will take over on Tuesday as Britons face a growing economic and social crisis.
She pledged to take action to tackle the crisis in a brief victory speech at a conference center in London on Monday. Without providing details, Truss promised a “bold plan” to cut taxes and spur economic growth, and “address the energy crisis, addressing people’s energy bills but also addressing the long-term issues we have. on energy supply”.
Monday’s announcement caps weeks of fierce campaigning in which Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), accused the foreign secretary of risking a prolonged recession if she went ahead. forward with its promised tax cuts.
Truss had been the favorite for weeks, and the 47-year-old will now follow Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May to become Britain’s third female prime minister. Although she voted to remain in the European Union in 2016, she found herself the preferred candidate of the vast majority of Brexiteers in her party.
His victory was weaker than expected, privately admit conservatives who backed both candidates. Many had predicted that his margin of victory would be higher than the 18 percentage points announced Monday afternoon.
As for her premiership, that could mean she can’t ignore her MPs, who outnumbered Truss in the parliamentary leg of this leadership race.
And Truss may find that she needs to consider a wider range of views from her party, which could mean embracing Sunak’s ideas to help Britons cope with the cost of living crisis and a less aggressive approach to tax cuts, especially corporate tax.
Many Tory MPs privately fear that Truss’ modern Thatcherism will cost them the next election and are jumping on the surprisingly small margin of victory to encourage the next prime minister to soften his economic stance.
The opposition Labor Party immediately dismissed her arguments, saying in a statement: “After years in Conservative cabinets, nodding through the decisions that got us into this mess, Liz Truss simply hasn’t responses to this crisis.
Long political career
But critics have accused his new hardline stance on Brexit of being a cynical ploy. They pointed to the fact that throughout her adult life, Truss evolved from a liberal anti-monarchist Democrat in favor of drug legalization in her youth to the embodiment of the conservative right today. .
Throughout her political career, particularly during the leadership race, Truss has been compared to Thatcher, who for many on the right remains the benchmark for Conservative leaders. She was a ruthless and uncompromising leader who took on the unions and played an important role in ending the Cold War. Like Thatcher, Truss has come from relatively humble beginnings to dominate a world inhabited largely by men.
Since becoming an MP, Truss has gone from being the darling of Liberal Conservative leader David Cameron, who took a personal interest in her career, to being the figurehead of the Eurosceptic right.
Ahead of the Brexit referendum, Truss said she ‘supported staying because I think it’s in Britain’s economic interest and means we can focus on vital economic and social reform at home “.
Her cabinet colleagues at the time said she never expressed a problem with staying in the EU, although she had plenty of opportunities to express her own euroscepticism.
These days, Truss is more than happy to do battle with Brussels and claim that it’s the EU that has always held back the UK economy.
A country in turmoil
Analysts are skeptical that Truss’ tax cut policies will help citizens much, especially after a decade of austerity policies. The Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent research group specializing in public finance, said last month that leadership candidates promising both tax cuts and lower public spending “must recognize this even greater than usual uncertainty in public finances”. .”
The shadow of Johnson, whose tenure saw approval ratings and voter intentions plummet for the Conservative Party, will hang over Truss’ new government. He steps down as deeply unpopular prime minister less than three years after winning a huge landslide election victory in 2019.
Johnson was forced to resign from office on July 7 after a series of scandals made his position untenable. His downfall followed months of revelations about parties being held at 10 Downing Street while the country was under Covid lockdown restrictions. Johnson himself was fined by police, making him the first prime minister in history to break the law in office.
However, Johnson overcame the “Partygate” scandal. It wasn’t until Chris Pincher, his deputy chief whip responsible for party discipline, was accused of sexually assaulting two men at a party, and Johnson was slow to act on the case, that his own party eventually turned against him.
Either way, Johnson is likely to remain a prominent figure. There is a good chance he will return to his former media career as a columnist and broadcaster, although the damage to his reputation in power could mean his appeal is limited compared to what it was before he entered. at Downing Street.
Throughout the campaign, Truss was seen by most as Johnson’s continuity candidate and enjoyed the support of many of his loyalists.
While that support helped Truss in the leadership race with conservative members who viewed rival Sunak as a traitor and value tribal loyalty, it means she will forever be tied to Johnson’s legacy.
It could ultimately become a weight around his neck as the specter of Johnson risks overshadowing anything Truss could do to tackle the misery many Britons face this winter.
CNN’s Lauren Kent and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.