Liz Truss, a former accountant and 12-year veteran of Parliament, took over as British prime minister on Tuesday after a farewell speech by the outgoing Boris Johnson and meeting the queen at her castle in Scotland.
Truss, 47, assumed the top leadership post in the country one day after she was chosen by the ruling Conservative Party as its leader over the other candidate, Rishi Sunak.
The shift to Truss was made official when she met with Queen Elizabeth II at her Balmoral estate in Scotland. As dictated by tradition, Johnson had met with the queen first.
Truss is Britain’s 15th prime minister and only the third woman to hold the post, after Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and Theresa May immediately before Johnson.
The two leaders departed London in separate planes before dawn Tuesday, and Truss’s plane landed in Aberdeenshire after circling the airport for 20 minutes due to heavy fog.
Truss takes the helm at a time of one of Britain’s worst economic crises in recent history, which is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war in Ukraine and pressure on markets worldwide.
Inflation rose to an all-time high of more than 9% during the month of August across much of Europe, while Britain’s central bank raised interest rates to curtail rising energy costs sparked largely by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Liz Truss, 47, is the third woman to serve as British prime minister. She officially took over the post from Boris Johnson during a traditional handover ceremony at the queen’s Balmoral castle in Scotland. Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE
Later this week, Truss is expected to introduce a large package of energy reforms in “a major moment” for the country, said Treasury chief Simon Clarke. The plan may include a strategy to freeze heating and cooling bills after Russia cut off its main gas pipeline to Europe last week.
Truss’ rise came after a fierce two-month battle with a wide field of 11 Conservative Party candidates to succeed Johnson, who announced in July that he would step down following numerous public scandals, most notably “partygate.”
She is popular among party Conservatives for her tough stance on cutting taxes and reining in government bureaucracy, but it’s not clear yet how that will play with the mainstream public, whose wages are dissipating amid a coming recession.
Truss, a key player in Johnson’s cabinet, was scheduled to address Britons later on Tuesday before choosing her cabinet leaders.
As a firebrand for the Liberal Democratic Party at Oxford University in the early 1990s, she once called for the monarchy to be abolished, but has since evolved her political stance with comparisons to Thatcher.
In his farewell address, Johnson vowed to give Truss his “most fervent support.”
“It’s time for us to get behind Liz Truss and her team and her program and deliver for the people of this country,” he said. “Because that is what the people of this country want. That’s what they need. And that’s what they deserve.”
Johnson, who took over for May in 2019, was accompanied on Tuesday by his wife Carrie when he arrived at Balmoral. He hasn’t yet given any indication of what the future holds for him.
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