By Connor Steel
LIZ TRUSS has officially been announced as the next Conservative & Unionist Party Leader and UK Prime Minister as she comfortably beat 2nd-place Rishi Sunak in the final result announced on Monday afternoon; cementing her position as red-hot favourite to become the nation’s third female leader and 2nd in six years.
Truss, formerly the Foreign Secretary under Boris Johnson, gained the support of 81,326 (57%) Tory party members in contrast to Sunak’s 60,399 (43%); a smaller margin of victory than expected. Overall the vote saw a turnout of 82.6% and there was a total 652 spoilt ballots; with over 30,000 not voting this time around.
The result was announced by Sir Graham Brady at a ceremony held in Central London and was followed by a victory speech by Truss; who pledged not to trigger an early general election and instead stated her desire to win a “great victory for the Conservative Party in 2024” with a UK national vote due before January 2025.
She gave an impassioned reiteration of promises made during her campaign, including her “bold plan” to cut taxes and grow the economy. Her predecessor in Number 10 was also congratulated as Truss added: “You got Brexit done. You crushed Jeremy Corbyn. You rolled out the vaccine and you stood up to Vladimir Putin”.
The ceremony and victory speech ends a gruelling two month contest starting in early July, Boris Johnson forced to quit following ‘partygate’ and rows over the Chris Pitcher scandal amongst other headlines. Party members were given one month to cast their votes whilst a series of hustings events and TV interviews took centre stage as most MPs spent time away from Westminster during the annual six week summer recesses.
The incoming leader will inherit a large in-tray of tasks as she leads the Government’s response to the cost of living crisis, energy / gas supply issues, inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She will also need to grasp a spate of Tory infighting over the summer leadership husting events; with the Mirror reporting over the weekend that at least twelve MPs could sign letters of no confidence in their new leader before taking office.
But despite victory announced on Monday, she is not expected to take control until tomorrow evening after a formal handover event held throughout the day. This will begin when Boris Johnson gives a statement to the nation during the morning before visiting the Queen in Balmoral, Scotland, to tender his official resignation.
Once complete Truss will travel to Balmoral for an audience with Her Majesty, where she is expecting to be asked to form a Government. If accepted she will become Prime Minister and travel back to Downing Street, addressing the nation and media outside Number 10 before her first job arrives in creating the new cabinet.
Although details are not yet confirmed there are strong rumours circling that Fareham MP Suella Braverman will be given the role of Home Secretary; having been the Attorney General since February 2020 under Mr Johnson and being a highly staunch supporter of Truss once she exited in the early MP ballots back in July.
Braverman tweeted her warm congratulations to the new leader at the ceremony, saying: “I’m delighted that Liz Truss has been elected the leader of the Conservative Party. I’m confident she will take the bold action needed to get all of us through these tough times, grow our economy, and unleash the potential of the UK.”
Other rumours suggest that Kwasi Kwarteng will become Chancellor of the Exchequer and James Cleverly is in line for Foreign Secretary; with fellow names such as trade minister Ranil Jayawardena, Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat all tipped for promotion. Mr Sunak has hinted he will not be part of any cabinet and Priti Patel has already quit her role as Home Secretary in preparation for the appointments over the next 2 days.
In other reaction Gosport MP, Dame Caroline Dinenage stated her thoughts on the announcement, saying: “I welcome Liz Truss to the role of Prime Minister. Her priority must be to deliver immediate & comprehensive support to reassure people in our country they will not have to face (current) cost of living pressures alone.”
However opposition leaders were less welcoming and focused on the bigger issues facing the country under Truss, with Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer saying the new Prime Minister “needs to show that she actually understands and can meet the challenges that are there after 12 years of failure of this Tory government”.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on Truss to act quickly and told her to “freeze energy bills for people and businesses, deliver more cash support, and increase funding for public services”; whilst the chief of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey called for an early general election later this year as he gave his own thoughts: “Under Liz Truss, we’re set to see more of the same crisis and chaos as under Boris Johnson.”
Readers can follow the latest developments by visiting sites such as the BBC or Sky News, whilst coverage on tomorrow’s historic events will likely be broadcast live to the nation as they develop throughout the hours.
PICTURED BY ALAMY: Liz Truss will walk into Downing Street tomorrow as the leader of the Conservative Party and indeed Prime Minister, following her comfortable victory in party members vote over Rishi Sunak.