On Monday, Sept. 5, Liz Truss was elected as the next Conservative prime minister of the United Kingdom. She is taking over after the three year administration of Boris Johnson, who stepped down as prime minister in July. Truss will now be entrusted with helping the U.K. recover from its worst economic downturn in decades. She is also the first prime minister to take office in a post-Brexit Britain.
Truss met with the late Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at the queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland. This is the first time in her reigning history that the queen did not appoint the new prime minister at Buckingham Palace, her reasoning being mobility issues. Truss won leadership of the Conservative Party after beating former Treasurer Rishi Sunak by approximately 20,000 votes.
Britain’s system of government is a representative democracy like the United States, but functions under a different system known as parliamentarianism. The United Kingdom is divided into 650 constituencies of roughly equal population. Citizens of each constituency vote for their local MP, Member of Parliament, for whichever party they support. The party that has the most MPs, thus controlling the most constituencies, gets to elect the next prime minister of the country. In the United Kingdom, only card-carrying members of a political party vote for that party’s leader.
The new prime minister is coming in at a difficult time for the United Kingdom. (NOTE: This story was written before the death of Queen Elizabeth II.) After Boris Johnson announced his resignation, he did not introduce any policies to patch the economic issues the country is suffering from. Among the list of problems are a steep rise in the cost of living and an energy crisis. Rising food and energy costs are making many Britons have to choose between spending money on their next meal or electricity for their home.
On top of these issues, thousands of British workers have gone on strike to demand better pay in the wake of the rising cost of living. The increasing inflation of the British Pound Sterling is largely caused by rapidly increasing energy bills.
So how has Truss promised to solve these issues? Being a conservative, Truss follows the line of thinking that free-market fiscally conservative policy is what will put the British economy back on its feet. She has promised to lower taxes and lessen government intervention in business. Her proudly conservative zeal has been popular with many Conservative Party voters. Truss compares herself to former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who governed the United Kingdom in the 1980s. Thatcher’s administration was known for its free-market, limited intervention approach to economics.
Having just taken office, it remains to be seen on how she will deliver on her promises to restore faith in the British economy.