Liz Truss Becomes UK Prime Minister: First Order Of Business Will Be To Freeze Energy Bills

Liz Truss accepted Queen Elizabeth II's invitation as UK Britain's new prime minister after Boris Johnson formally resigned to the monarch's.

Liz Truss accepted power as Britain’s new prime minister on Tuesday. She takes charge as the energy and inflation crisis peaks. She plans to tackle these within days with a sweeping plan to freeze fuel bills.

Queen Elizabeth II formally appointed her after Boris Johnson’s resignation.

Ms. Truss accepted Queen Elizabeth II’s invitation to form a government after Boris Johnson formally resigned to the monarch’s at her Balmoral estate in Scotland. The acceptance completed the transfer of power after a two-month leadership contest.

Mr. Johnson bid farewell to Downing Street with a valedictory speech in which he urged the Conservatives to unite behind Ms. Truss.

With the ceremonies out of the way, Ms. Truss headed back to London to appoint a new Conservative cabinet and faced the economic storm clouds to dominate the first months of her premiership.

Plans briefed to journalists suggest Ms. Truss could freeze household energy bills around their current level of £1,971 ($2,283) per year until at least January and possibly until the next election expected in 2024.

Halting the looming 80 percent rise in bills could cost as much as £100 billion ($116bn) and would mark a swift change of tack from Ms. Truss after she spent the Tory leadership contest arguing for tax cuts instead of government handouts.

Simon Clarke, a Treasury minister and supporter of Ms. Truss, said the new prime minister would make a “decisive intervention” to help people through the crisis unfolding in the shadow of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Many doubt the budgeting of such a freeze. The opposition Labour Party questioned if the government would recoup the money over 10 to 20 years.

Labour MPs called for a windfall tax on energy companies to fund the freeze. Paul Massara, the former boss of energy company Npower, told LBC radio: “This isn’t a freebie.”

New Conservative Party leader and Britain’s Prime Minister-elect Liz Truss delivers a speech after being announced the winner of the Tory Party leadership contest in central London on September 5, 2022. Ms. Truss is the UK’s third female prime minister, following Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher. AFP

Ms. Truss, who defeated Rishi Sunak to win the Conservative leadership, was expected to appoint close ally Kwasi Kwarteng as her chancellor of the exchequer.

Former Middle East minister James Cleverly and defeated leadership candidate Suella Braverman were also in line for senior positions as Ms. Truss picks her cabinet.

Two senior Johnson ministers, Nadine Dorries and Priti Patel pre-empted Ms. Truss’s announcements by saying they would step away from the front benches.

Ms. Patel said she would resign as the home secretary once a successor was in place, while culture secretary Ms. Dorries said she was leaving the cabinet. She could move to the House of Lords.

Mr. Johnson, forced out by Tory MPs who lost patience after a series of scandals, tendered his resignation at Balmoral after his farewell speech in Downing Street early on Tuesday.

He urged the Conservatives to unite in a speech full of typical rhetorical flourishes. Still, he expressed resentment over his mid-term departure, complaining that MPs had “changed the rules halfway through.”

Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, on Tuesday, September 6, 2022, before leaving for Balmoral in Scotland for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II to formally resign as Britain’s prime minister. PA

Amid speculation that he will one day attempt a comeback, he left people guessing with an enigmatic reference to the Roman statesman Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, said to have come out of retirement for a second stint in power.

Mr. Johnson flew to Scotland to offer his resignation after the queen, 96, who has suffered mobility problems and canceled several public appearances in recent months, decided not to return to London for the handover.

Ms. Truss traveled separately to Balmoral to accept a formal invitation to form a government. Ms. truss is the 15th prime minister of the queen’s 70-year reign in a line starting from Winston Churchill.

She is the third woman prime minister after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. All fellow Conservative leaders.

World leaders congratulated Ms. Truss, urged by some to cooperate with the European Union after often stormy UK-EU relations under Mr. Johnson’s tenure.

“The British people are our friends. The British nation is our ally,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, visibly irked by Ms. Truss’s statement last month that the jury was still out on whether he was a friend or foe.

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