UK: Liz Truss elected new prime minister and can exchange Boris Johnson
- September 6, 2022
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From the far right wing of the Conservative Party, former Foreign Minister Liz Truss has been chosen as the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in an internal election.
In an internal election of members of the Conservative Party, the parliamentarian and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Liz Truss was chosen as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, as officially announced this Monday, 5th. Truss disputed the preference of party members against Rishi Sunakformer Minister of Finance.
Truss will replace the current representative, Boris Johnsonwho promised in July that he would step down amid reputational scandals involving the government.
As the Conservative Party has a majority in Parliament, the name chosen internally to lead the party in place of Johnson automatically becomes Prime Minister. (see below how the election works).
Truss had the most votes among Conservative Party members, out of more than 140,000 members who voted. The results were:
- Liz Truss: 81,326 votes from members (57.4%);
- Rishi Sunak: 60,399 (42.6%).
Among the Conservative Party parliamentarians, who also vote in the internal election and helped to delimit the two finalists, Sunak was the preferred one, which did not prevent the defeat of the former minister:
- Liz Truss: 113 votes from parliamentarians;
- Rishi Sunak: 137 votes.
The final straw for the change of government in the United Kingdom was an accusation of harassment against an allied parliamentarian who spilled over into the administration of Boris Johnson, who had appointed him to an important post in the government base shortly before.
But Johnson was already being criticized when he was accused of participating in parties at the official residence during the pandemic (scandal that became known as partygate) and high inflation, which exceeds 10% a year in the UK with inflationary pressures from the energy crisis and war in Ukraine.
The UK is made up of England, Scotland, northern Ireland and Wales, and the elected prime minister will have to govern regions that add up to more than 67 million people. The British ended 2021 as the fifth largest economy in the world, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $3 trillion. The system of government is a parliamentary monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II only being the head of state and the prime minister, the head of government, making political and economic decisions in practice.
Who is Liz Truss?
At 46 years old, Truss has been a parliamentarian since 2010 and, in recent years, was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Johnson administration, taking an active part in the negotiations to implement Brexit, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (EU).
The future prime minister promised in her campaign to accelerate reforms to, by the end of the year, end the remaining EU laws in the United Kingdom.
Sunak and Truss during debate: Former allies of Boris Johnson and only recently removed from the government, both promised liberal measures to reduce inflation and boost growth (Jonathan Hordle/ITV/Getty Images)
Like Johnson, Truss is seen as a “hard-liner” wing of the Conservative Party.
Before becoming chancellor, she also served in the cabinets of Conservative premiers Theresa May (2016-19) and David Cameron (2010-16), who preceded Boris Johnson.
During her professional career, the future prime minister also served as Minister of Education, Secretary of State for the Environment, Secretary of Justice, Chief Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State for International Trade, President of the Board of Trade and, lastly, as Minister for Women and Equality (already under the Johnson administration).
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Both Truss and Sunak tried, during the campaign, to position themselves as heirs of liberal measures and having the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher (1979-90)who was also from the Conservative Party, as inspiration.
Truss promises traditional measures in customs, but liberal reforms in the economy, such as tax cuts. According to the minister, her measures may be able to reverse the scenario of low economic growth that the United Kingdom has faced in recent years.
On the international front, Truss also says she will be tough on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I am honored to be elected leader of the Conservative Party,” Truss said in a Twitter message. “I will take bold steps to get us through these tough times, grow our economy and unlock the UK’s potential.”
How the UK election works
Even if internal exchanges take place, as in Johnson’s case, the Conservative Party are entitled to continue internally choosing the British prime minister until 2025, when the current term in Parliament ends and new general elections take place.
The opposition Labor Party tried to force an early general election given the Johnson case, but the vote did not go ahead.
In addition to running the country for the next two years, Truss should also be the name to contest the next general election in 2025, if he lasts in office until then. A prime minister can be removed from office by a confidence vote in Parliament or can resign if pressured from behind the scenes by party members themselves (as Johnson did).
Both Sunak and Truss, on the campaign trail, tried to convince their supporters that they were the names with the best chance of putting an end to the Johnson scandal and beating Labor – which has not had a prime minister since 2010 and, for now, leads the polls. for general elections.
Boris Johnson: Conservative government reputation scandals have strengthened opposition, but call for new elections has not advanced (Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
The UK works with the Conservative Party on the right and the Labor Party further on the left on the spectrum. The party that wins the most seats in the general election chooses the prime minister.
The last election was in 2019, when the Conservatives, led by Johnson, won a majority of seats.
The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, first with David Cameron (until 2016) – who resigned after the Brexit victory in a referendum -, then with Theresa May (until 2019) and finally with Johnson himself.
The last Labor prime minister was only Gordon Brown (2007-10), who succeeded Tony Blair, who was in office for a decade (1997-2007).
Inflation and Brexit: the challenges of the new government
Although only fewer than 200,000 supporters vote, the dispute in the conservative microcosm also reflected divergences that are exposed throughout the rest of the country.
Inflation in the UK is at its highest in 40 years, topping 10% amid the war in Ukraine and supply shocks from the coronavirus crisis. Unemployment is low, but there are growing risks to the economy from rising interest rates around the world.
Meanwhile, the new British prime minister will have to deal with the remnants of Brexit, the departure from the European Union voted in a referendum in 2016.
Although it was actually implemented last year – with the support of both Sunak and Truss – the exit still has problems, the biggest of which is the border between Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom) and Ireland (which is part of the European Union).
Before resigning, Boris Johnson had been threatening to break a deal with the EU over the case.
In addition to Ireland, Scotland can also generate a headache in London, with the local government threatening to hold a new referendum to leave the United Kingdom (in Scotland, the majority of the population voted against Brexit).