Although Liz Truss is not the first woman prime minister in the UK, her candidacy has stirred up considerable excitement in the islands. She is the replacement for Boris Johnson , who had held the post for three years. Although he has been on the political scene for a very long time, it is only now that he will become known to a larger audience, not only among the British, but also among the world’s most important representatives. It’s only a matter of time until she meets with other women in top positions, such as US Vice President Kamala Harris and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Who is the new British Prime Minister and why has she just now taken charge of the British government?
Brexit, Megxit, pandemic, war in Ukraine… Liz Truss
The previous Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, was not very popular with voters. Although he didn’t have a say in most things, during his tenure, which he has held since 2019, many different situations happened that changed the face of the British Isles. It began with the now-famous Brexit, which ushered in the departure from the ranks of the European Union in 2020. Although it happened because the British people wanted it, as it turned out later most of them had no idea what it entailed. Too little education on the subject caused people to vote to leave, even though they didn’t want to at all. However, there was no turning back.
COVID 19 pandemic in the UK.
Another crisis Boris Johnson had to deal with was the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. This coincided with Brexit, so the British health service could no longer count on help from other European countries. So far, from the beginning of the pandemic until September 2022, more than 200,000 people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus have died on the islands. The responsibility for such a high number of deaths, inadequate government assistance and a huge economic crisis was laid at the feet of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And while it was thanks to him that vaccines against the virus were organized and imported in quick time, the distaste remained. Liz Truss taking over as prime minister was left alone with a mess she now has to clean up.
A rift in the royal family
Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, there was the now famous split in the royal family. Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle decided to abandon all royal duties and move to America to forget about the British monarchy forever. It also left both Queen Elizabeth and the government facing a huge image crisis. The British government was said to be unable to control what former members of the royal family say in interviews, which only makes the situation worse.
War in Ukraine and British influence
Outbreak of war in Ukraine could have been an opportunity to improve the image of Britain and the British government around the world. They were very willing to support the Ukrainians with weapons, first aid supplies or by taking in refugees. They were among the first to decide to bring them help and actively oppose Russian aggression, and were also the first Western European country to address the parliament in Ukraine. This came at a time when Boris Johnson was struggling with the biggest image crisis during his tenure, famously “the party affair at 10 Downing Street”.. That’s where the illegal meetings were to take place at the height of the pandemic, when most Britons were confined to their homes. Johnson thereby broke the regulations he himself introduced. For this, he became the first British prime minister in history to be sanctioned.
Why has a new prime minister been elected in the UK?
This was reflected in a huge crisis on the islands. The British resented the fact that the country’s rulers have different rules than ordinary citizens. The selection of a new prime minister was therefore a necessity. Elections were held within the party. The top Conservative candidate was Liz Truss, who won 81,300 votes from her party members, thus defeating her biggest rival Rishi Sunak, the current finance minister. “Thank you, it is an honor to receive this nomination from the Conservative Party. I would also like to pay respect to my counter-candidates, especially Rishi Sunak. It’s been a difficult campaign, especially because of how talented candidates we have in our party.” – she said immediately after the results were announced, taking the opportunity to thank her family, friends and Boris Johnson. On September 6, 2022, at Balmoral Castle, Liz Truss officially became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Exceptionally, the meeting was held there, rather than at Buckingham Palace in London as is usual due to the Queen’s ill health. There, Liz Truss was welcomed into the audience and tasked with forming a new administration.
Liz Truss, who took over from Johnson from the very beginning of the war in Ukraine, urged the British to join the fight against Russia. To this end, she posted a famous photo on her Instagram in a tank, where she urged people to start taking action in this direction. The idea was criticized not only by the government, but also by the British military, and the now famous photo disappeared from the platform.
This, however, has not cooled the enthusiasm of the new prime minister. Quite recently, Neal Ascherson, author of the book “The Black Sea,” publicly warned against its actions by sending an open letter to The Guardian. Both enthusiasts and critics of the Prime Minister are closely watching her actions, believing that the British government has been stoking the conflict in Ukraine from the very beginning instead of working to calm it down.
There were words, it’s time for action
The former foreign minister currently has to focus mainly on operations inside the country and on rebuilding the government’s tarnished reputation. In the wake of the Johnson-related scandals, as many as 60 deputies have left in just a few days to express a vote of no confidence in the prime minister. So she ambitiously began by giving a speech immediately after taking up her new post: “I have a bold plan to cut taxes and ensure growth in our economy. I will deal with the energy crisis, both from the side of the bills that our constituents pay and from the side of the supply of raw materials from our country. Also, I will deal with the national health service (…)”
Political scientists around the world are wondering aloud to what extent all the promises made by Truss are even possible to fulfill, especially since there are many more. The new prime minister wants to provide citizens with higher wages, lower taxes, provide security or support start-ups by reducing bureaucracy. Truss has ambitions to do much more than her predecessors and actually solve the problems her country has faced so far.
Who is Liz Truss and where did she come from in politics?
Mary Elizabeth Truss was born in 1975 in Oxford. From an early age, she was interested in politics, so she chose to study the same field. At the beginning of her political career, she was not at all associated with the conservative party. This is because she started out as a Liberal Democrat activist. There she took her first steps and actively climbed the career ladder until she joined the Conservative Party in 1996 at the age of 21. She only received her parliamentary mandate in 2010, and just two years later was appointed undersecretary of state at the Department of Education.
Under Cameron, she became the youngest minister in British history at 37 years old. At the time, she took over as Minister of the Environment. After Cameron left, she supported the next prime minister, Theresa May, with her actions by becoming both justice minister and lord chancellor.
Minister for Equality and Women’s Affairs
Despite the fact that Theresa May ‘s tenure as prime minister was very short, Liz has cemented her place in politics for good. As Boris Johnson took power she on September 10, 2019 officially became the Minister of the Ministry of the Interior. equality and women. Her work has involved the pursuit of equality for homosexuals, the disabled, ethnic minorities or discrimination against women. During the current election campaign, she was particularly keen to emphasize that every child should have an equal chance to start, regardless of background and social status. She has repeatedly stressed that she wants to be closer to the people and deal mainly with the problems they face on a daily basis.
Perhaps taking this position also had a private overtone for her, since after Theresa May resigned, she was the one who expressed her desire to become chairwoman of the Conservative Party. In the end, she gave up the idea to support Boris Johnson. Even then, she had a chance to become prime minister of the United Kingdom.
What would the government have looked like if she had taken office earlier?
It is very possible that Britain would then look very different. Why? Elizabeth Truss has been a big opponent of Brexit from the beginning. At the time when the first talks on the subject emerged she was serving as Minister of International Trade. At the time, she described Brexit itself as a “triple disaster,” claiming that it would significantly impede the flow of goods between the islands and the European Union.
Liz Truss is also a staunch opponent of the monarchy. For many years, he has been vocal about the fact that it is time to turn Britain into a republic. If this had actually happened, there is a good chance that the famous Megxit would not have made such an impression on the British people, and thus there would have been no image crisis for the monarchy.
In just two years, the UK will hold another general election. Winning the Conservative Party will not be such an easy task at all, especially since the country is currently facing its worst economic crisis in years. This year, inflation reached its highest level in 40 years. In addition, the new prime minister must rebuild trust for the government, which has been damaged over the past few months.
The coming months will be a huge challenge for the new prime minister. In the meantime, it should also deliver on all its election promises, and there were indeed many of them. In fact, her party has only just regained power after many years, so everyone is even more hopeful that she will not squander this opportunity.
Thatcher vs. Truss
From the beginning of her political career, Truss has said she does not want to be compared to British political legend Margaret Thatcher for the reforms she would like to introduce in the near future. However, the specter of it had been haunting her since her early childhood years. At age 7, she played her role for the first time in a school play. She won zero votes at the time, which, for her political career, may have the overtones of a kind of prediction. For all time, her career has been a veritable sine wave, including the moment in 2017 when she took over as Secretary General of the Treasury, which was seen by many experts as a demotion.
Also during the recent elections, comparisons between the two ladies took on a life of their own, thanks to the style Truss wore during one of the debates. The black jacket and white velvet shirt with a big bow tied around her neck could not go unnoticed. Thatcher looked almost identical during her 1979 speech.
WomanPower – women’s time
Britain has proven over the years that no one rules with a firm hand like women. This year the platinum jubilee of her reign was celebrated by the world’s most famous queen, Elizabeth II, who has been on the throne for 70 years and there is no indication that she will step down anytime soon. Also, the aforementioned Margaret Thatcher, nicknamed the “Iron Lady” for good reason, left her mark on governments in the UK and beyond. She was the one who led the country out of its economic malaise by introducing a series of reforms that made history.
For this reason, Liz Truss has a very difficult task. Not only did she assume the post of prime minister at the most possible crisis moment, she is being compared, willy-nilly, to the most important women in British politics. What will governance look like during her reign? Time will tell. Truss’ career on the political map of the world is just gaining momentum. The editors of GentleWoman POLAND will follow her story with bated breath.