April 16, 2024

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Liz Truss becomes Britain's new Prime Minister

Liz Truss becomes Britain’s new Prime Minister

LONDON (AFP) – United Kingdom Prime Minister Liz Truss became Prime Minister on Tuesday and was immediately confronted with the daunting task ahead, amid mounting pressure to rein in high prices, ease labor unrest and reform a healthcare system burdened by long waiting lists and staff shortages.

At the top of her inbox is the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which threatens to drive energy bills to unsustainable levels, shutter businesses and leave the country’s poorest people shivering in ice houses this winter.

British media reported Tuesday that Truss, who refused to spell out her energy strategy during the two-month campaign to succeed Boris Johnson, is now planning to end energy bills at a cost of up to 100 billion pounds ($116 billion) to taxpayers. She is expected to reveal her plan on Thursday.

“You have to know the cost of living crisis in England, and it’s a very bad crisis right now,” said Rebecca MacDougall, 55, who works in law enforcement, outside the House of Representatives.

She said, “She makes promises for that, because she says she will fulfill, and fulfill, and fulfill.” “But we will see in the next few weeks, hopefully, some announcements that will help the average working person.”

Truss took office on Tuesday afternoon at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, when Queen Elizabeth II formally asked her to form a new government in a carefully designed ceremony dictated by centuries of tradition. Johnson, who announced his intention to step down two months ago, formally resigned during his meeting with the Queen shortly before that.

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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 was moved to Scotland to ascertain the schedule as the 96-year-old Queen had problems with mobility that forced palace officials to make decisions about her travel on a daily basis.

Truss, 47, took office a day after the ruling Conservative Party chose her as party leader in an election in which only 172,000 fee-paying party members. As party leader, Truss automatically became prime minister without the need for a general election because the Conservatives still had a majority in the House of Commons.

But as prime minister chosen by less than 0.5% of British adults, Truss is under pressure to show quick results.

Ed Davey, the leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, on Tuesday called a snap election in October.

“I listened to Liz Truss during the (campaign) Tory leadership and I was looking for a plan to help people with very high energy bills, with the NHS crisis and so on, and I haven’t heard of any plan at all,” he told the BBC.

“Because people are really worried, because people are losing sleep because of energy bills, companies aren’t investing because of the crisis, I think that’s really wrong,” Davey said.

Johnson noted the tensions facing Britain when he left the prime minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street for the last time, saying his policies left the government the economic power to help people weather the energy crisis.

While many observers expected Johnson to attempt a political comeback, he backed Truss and likened himself to Cincinnatus, the Roman dictator who relinquished power and returned to his farm to live in peace.

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“Like Cincinnatus,” he said, “I’m back to my plow.” “I will give this government nothing but the most ardent support.”


Susie Blanc contributed to this story.