According to media polls, Liz Truss was odds-on favorite to become the new British prime minister ever since the Conservative Party whittled the candidates down to just her and Rishi Sunak on July 20. In the end, her winning margin was tighter than expected at 57 percent to 43 percent.
It was Sunak’s shock resignation as finance minister that precipitated Boris Johnson’s departure, whereas Truss as foreign secretary was one of the few ministers not to jump ship, and loyalty counts for a lot in Conservative circles.
In terms of policy, will Truss continue in the center-left mold of her predecessors—Johnson, Theresa May, and David Cameron—or will she try to take her party some way back to its traditional conservative roots?
In her first speech given outside a rainy 10 Downing Street, she addressed three main issues: the economy and cutting taxes to boost growth, the energy crisis—which she blamed solely on Vladimir Putin—and the state religion, or National Health Service as it’s better known, saying, “We will put our health service on a firm footing.”
Is Truss a New Margaret Thatcher?Some have been touting Truss as a new “Iron Lady,” but the political and social landscape has changed irrevocably since Margaret Thatcher’s time in office.
Western society is increasingly moving away from rule by democratically elected institutions, with power being ceded to global entities such as the United Nations or World Health Organization and, whether you like them or not, the fact is you don’t get to vote on anything they do.
Truss would have to push back against those new titans to come anywhere close to her predecessor’s record.
Another economic fact that bypassed their notice is that reducing gas supplies sees gas prices go up, so by exporting less, Russia makes the same amount of money, and only the Europeans suffer.
How Green Is Truss?The immediate problem Truss faces as she enters 10 Downing Street is a cost-of-living crisis over those spiraling energy prices, though Russia is by no means the only reason for that.
Johnson was so convinced by climate change alarmism that achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 took precedence over harsh economic realities, and renewables were unrealistically favored over the UK’s abundant natural resources of gas, oil, and coal.
Low-carbon, high-cost nuclear power was also favored by Johnson, but even if new plants still under construction and years late, like Hinkley Point C, ever do get to deliver electricity, these aren’t short-term solutions, though that’s another story.
Is the Prime Minster Adaptable?Although Truss originally voted to remain in the European Union, she claims to have since been converted to Brexit’s possibilities. That points to having an ability to learn through experience, rather than being tied to a dogmatic position.
Indeed, she first started out in politics in the left-leaning Liberal Democrat Party before switching sides to the Conservatives, although that did coincide with the Tories turning leftward to become electable after spending more than 10 years in opposition during the Tony Blair socialist revolution.
Now that Truss is in power in the still-emerging post-Brexit Britain, will she dare to challenge other issues that previous Conservative administrations had considered to be sacred cows?
Is Truss Someone America Can Do Business With?President Joe Biden sent her his congratulations and looks forward to “continued support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression.” He won’t be disappointed on that, though she could remind him of the U.S.–UK trade deal as a quid pro quo, which his predecessor, Donald Trump, once promised.
Faced with retaliatory sanctions from the EU, she and her then-boss Johnson dithered until it was too late. Now Biden seems to have put the UK to the back of the line for trade talks, just as his Democrat predecessor, Barack Obama, once threatened.
If the Republicans do as well as expected in the midterms, Biden may come under pressure to look again at that deal, which would go a long way to restrengthening the once-special relationship.