In her first speech as the UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss immediately confronted the enormous task ahead of her amid increasing pressure to curb soaring prices, ease labour unrest and fix a health care system burdened by long waiting lists and staff shortages.
“I will deal with the energy crisis caused by Putin’s war,” Truss told reporters on the steps of 10 Downing Street.
She blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which triggered the global energy crisis.
Truss further highlighted that the Russia-Ukraine war threatens to push energy bills to unaffordable levels, shuttering businesses and leaving the nation’s poorest people shivering in icy homes this winter.
“I will take action this week to deal with energy bills and to secure our future energy supply,” she said.
Truss also said she had a “bold plan” to grow the economy through tax cuts and reform that would “boost business-led growth and investment.”
Truss, who refused to spell out her energy strategy during the two-month campaign to succeed Boris Johnson, now plans to cap energy bills at a cost to taxpayers of as much as 100 billion pounds (USD 116 billion), British news media reported Tuesday. She is expected to unveil her plan on Thursday.
Improving health services was the third priority listed by the former Foreign Secretary. “I’m confident that together we can ride out the storm, we can re-build the economy and we can become the modern brilliant Britain that I know we can be,” Truss concluded.
Meanwhile, Truss is appointing her new cabinet hours after becoming prime minister. Kwasi Kwarteng has been named Chancellor, James Cleverly is Foreign Secretary and Suella Braverman is Home Secretary, reported UK-based media.
Therese Coffey is the new Health Secretary and deputy PM. For the first time, not a single white man will occupy one of the “great offices of state” – PM, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor.
Prominent backers of Truss’s leadership rival Rishi Sunak are out of a job, including Dominic Raab and Grant Shapps.
Truss, 47, took office Tuesday afternoon at Balmoral Castle in Scotland when Queen Elizabeth II formally asked her to form a new government in a carefully choreographed ceremony dictated by centuries of tradition.
It was the first time in the queen’s 70-year reign that the handover of power took place at Balmoral, rather than Buckingham Palace in London. The ceremony was moved to Scotland to provide certainty about the schedule because the 96-year-old queen has experienced problems getting around that have forced palace officials to make decisions about her travel on a day-to-day basis.
Truss became prime minister a day after the ruling Conservative Party chose her as its leader in an election where the party’s 172,000 dues-paying members were the only voters.
As party leader, Truss automatically became prime minister without the need for a general election because the Conservatives still have a majority in the House of Commons.
But as a national leader selected by less than 0.5 per cent of British adults, Truss is under pressure to show quick results.