Liz Truss has been picked to replace Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the U.K., marking the end of a bitter summer campaigning and the peak of a political career marked by a rapid climb through the upper echelons of British politics and dramatic changes of opinion.
Truss saw off six rivals in a series of run-off votes among Conservative Members of Parliament (MP) and defeated former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak in a vote among 172,000 Conservative party members, who represent less than 1% of the country’s population.
Since entering Parliament in 2010, Truss has rapidly climbed the political ladder and has held a number of cabinet positions under previous leaders David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, including her current role of foreign secretary.
Sunak has accused Truss of evading scrutiny over her tax plans, which he claims are unrealistic and will fuel further inflation.
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As part of her ceremonial duties, the Queen will appoint the next prime minister at Balmoral, her Scottish estate Tuesday. The occasion will mark the first time in her 70-year reign the monarch has not received an outgoing or incoming Prime Minister in Buckingham Palace in London. Johnson and his successor are slated to travel separately to Balmoral on Tuesday.
Sunak told the BBC he will continue as an MP if trounced by Truss and would support the new Conservative government in “whatever capacity.” He did not rule out running to be Conservative Party leader again in the future.
Truss’ victory marks the end of an arduous and acrimonious summer of Tory politicians duking it out to replace Johnson. Johnson resigned as Conservative Party leader in early July after multiple scandals provoked widespread outrage and a mass exodus of government officials. Sunak, alongside health secretary Sajid Javid, kick-started the spate of resignations and questioned Johnson’s integrity and behavior in excoriating resignation letters. Despite intense political and public pressure to leave—as well as presiding over a government crippled by the loss of so many people—Johnson remained in the post and later said he would stay as prime minister for more than a month while his successor was selected. He has been criticized for taking multiple vacations and a failure to act over the escalating cost of living crisis in the U.K. as the Conservative Party selects a new leader.
Truss was not always a Conservative and in the past she was actually a card-carrying member of the Liberal Democrats, a center-left opposition party. Truss was president of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats when studying politics, philosophy and economics and she spoke in favor of abolishing the monarchy at the party’s 1994 conference. Two years later, Truss changed allegiances and joined the Conservative Party. Truss also U-turned on Brexit, becoming a staunch supporter after initially campaigning for the country to remain in the EU. Truss’ see-sawing on key political positions over time has led numerous observers to question whether her beliefs are held sincerely or whether they are merely what is convenient at the time.
The Truss manifesto (Politico)