Liz Truss, next U.K. prime minister, seen as ‘heir to Thatcher’

Liz Truss, next U.K. prime minister, seen as ‘heir to Thatcher’

Liz Truss, the United Kingdom’s next prime minister, vowed to act swiftly on pressing issues like a sagging economy and skyrocketing energy prices that have been put on the back burner since July 7 when her predecessor, the embattled Boris Johnson, announced that he was stepping down.

On Tuesday, Queen Elizabeth II will invite Ms. Truss to form a government in her name — a ceremonial event known as “kissing hands” — at Balmoral, her castle in Scotland. 

It will be the first time in her 70-year reign that the installation of a new prime minister will not occur at Buckingham Palace in London. The change was made over concerns about the health and mobility of the 96-year-old monarch.

Ms. Truss won the Conservative vote over her main rival, former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, with a tough-sounding plan of action meant to echo her conservative predecessor, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“Our beliefs resonate with the British people. Our beliefs in freedom, in the ability to control your own life, in low taxes (and) in personal responsibility,” she said Monday, following the announcement by Conservative officials that she had won the vote to lead their party and therefore become the UK’s next head-of-government.

“As your party leader, I intend to deliver what we promised those voters right across our great country,” Ms. Truss said.

In a statement, outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered congratulations for what he called her “decisive win.”

“I know she has the right plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, unite our party, and continue the great work of uniting and leveling up our country,” Mr. Johnson said. “Now is the time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100%.”

Mr. Johnson said he was proud of the work his government accomplished over the past three years, from pushing through Brexit — the withdrawal of the U.K. from the European Union — to overseeing the country’s battle against COVID-19 and providing vital assistance to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in February.

Ms. Truss saluted the current prime minister in her speech on Monday.

“Boris, you got Brexit done, you crushed (former UK Labor leader) Jeremy Corbyn, you rolled out the vaccine and you stood up to Vladimir Putin,” she said. “You are admired from Kyiv to Carlisle.”

Ms. Truss said it is vital for her government to deliver over the next two years with a plan to cut taxes and grow the economy.

“I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues that we have on energy supply,” she said. “And I will deliver on the National Health Service.”

Nigel Farage, a British broadcaster and former politician who was an early leader of the country’s Brexit movement, said it has been clear for quite some time that Ms. Truss, Boris Johnson’s combative foreign secretary, would emerge victorious in the Conservative Party poll.

“She said ‘I was elected as a conservative and I will govern as a conservative.’ They haven’t done that in the last 12 years,” Mr. Farage said Monday in a YouTube posting. “They just pretend they’re conservative at election time and then govern very differently.”

The UK’s next prime minister needs to focus on three specific issues, Mr. Farage said: immigration coming from across the English channel; the looming energy crisis, and the country’s moribund economy.

“They have let so many people down. Nothing actually works anymore,” he said. “By the next election, we must be energy independent. It can be done.”

Nile Gardiner, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom called Ms. Truss a “conservative, principled politician” whose election could make Democrats in Washington and the Beltway elite nervous.

“A Truss-led government could be the most radical British conservative administration since Margaret Thatcher, a game changer on the world stage, willing to challenge the old guard and offer conservative ideas and solutions to global problems,” Mr. Gardiner said in The Telegraph.

“It is highly encouraging that Ms. Truss is feared, even hated by the enemies of the free world in Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. They understand that she will stand her ground. As foreign secretary, she amply demonstrated that she will not be intimidated by dictatorial regimes,” he said.

Ms. Truss will likely meet with President Biden on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, which will occur shortly after she becomes prime minister. She isn’t expected to take the UK in a radically-different foreign policy direction and acknowledges the importance of the “special relationship” with the U.S. 

But her relationship with the Biden administration could be frosty. She has strong admirers among conservatives in Washington where supporters have cast her as an heir to Thatcher.

“Congratulations and best wishes for success to Liz Truss. America is stronger with a free, safe and prosperous United Kingdom,” Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican from Arkansas, said in a Twitter post.