Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has won the Conservative Party vote to be its new leader and will become the country’s new prime minister, replacing Boris Johnson at a time of economic upheaval and escalating energy bills.
The 47-year-old Truss, who will become the third woman to lead the country, defeated former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Britain’s treasury secretary, in a vote of about 140,000 dues-paying members of the Conservative Party, a mere 0.2% of the United Kingdom’s population of 67 million.
The intraparty vote, rather than a general election, was held because Conservatives still hold a majority in parliament and could pick the new prime minister of their choosing. Truss will be the 15th leader of the United Kingdom during the long reign of its monarch, Queen Elizabeth. The Conservative Party announced the Truss victory Monday.
The vote took place over recent weeks after Johnson announced in July he would step down. The outgoing prime minister was engulfed in a series of scandals, including ignoring the government’s own rules against public gatherings during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Truss is expected to take over the government Tuesday after both she and Johnson visit Queen Elizabeth at her summer home, Balmoral Castle in Scotland, and the queen formally invites her to form a new government.
Later, Truss is expected to address the country from her new home, the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street in London.
Truss, once an opponent of pulling Britain from the European Union but now a staunch supporter of Brexit, holds hawkish foreign policy views and is expected, like Johnson, to remain a steadfast link in the Western alliance sending aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s six-month-old invasion.
She will be Britain’s fourth prime minister in six years and third female leader, after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.
Truss will immediately face severe economic problems, including a recession, labor turmoil, surging energy bills for British households and possible fuel shortages this coming winter.
After her victory was announced, Truss told a party gathering, “I campaigned as a Conservative, and I will govern as a Conservative.”
“I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy,” she said. “Dealing with people’s energy bills but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply.”
Truss was not the first choice among Conservatives to lead the party but emerged in the intraparty voting in the House of Commons to be one of the two finalists in the vote among party members.
Truss served in Johnson’s cabinet but was not part of the Tory attacks on Johnson that led to his eventual ouster as the party’s leader and the end of his three years as prime minister.
She defeated Sunak by a final count of 81,326 to 60,399.