Following the unexpected departure of former prime minister Boris Johnson, there has been a lot of speculation among the House and the general public as to who his successor would be. Last week, Congresswoman Liz Truss was confirmed as the country's next representative. Who is she and how did she get here?
The new Iron Lady
Truss's political journey has been unusual for a member of the Conservative Party. Born in Oxford in 1975, she was brought up in a left-wing family, which made her affiliated with ideologies contrary to Margaret Thatcher's mandate in her youth, such as the defense of the abolition of the monarchy or the legalization of cannabis. Interestingly, she would end up switching her political allegiances to the Conservative Party and defending liberal economic policies very similar to those of the Iron Lady. In fact, during the Conservative primary campaign, her nods to Thatcher have been constant, even down to the way she dresses.
Her Career in Politics
In 2005, Truss stood unsuccessfully in the British parliamentary elections. A year later she was elected MP for Greenwich in south-east London. She became MP for Norfolk South West in 2010 and spent a few years on the Conservative backbench before being appointed Parliamentary Deputy Minister for Childcare and Education. Less than two years later, she became Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. During Johnson's tenure, she was chosen to be Minister for Women and Equalities and International Trade Secretary. She held the latter post until November 2021, when she was appointed Secretary of State, in her current position alongside the Ministry for Women and Equalities.
How did she become Prime Minister?
With 82.6% of party members voting, Truss won with 81,326 votes against former finance minister Rishi Sunak's 60,399 votes in an election campaign dominated by inflation and the energy crisis. The outcome of the internal election was announced by Graham Brady, the party's vice-chairman, at a ceremony in central London.
The English parliamentary election system works in such a way that the Prime Minister is formally appointed by the monarch, who is governed by constitutional conventions. These conclude that the political party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons in a general election, forms the new government. Its leader becomes Prime Minister. Therefore, citizens can only vote directly for their local MP (who may be the Prime Minister if they represent that area).
Thus, the national representative of the country, the prime minister, is elected by the parliamentary group of the most influential party. This leads to the choice being made only by those who make up that group - the general public has little say, and this decision is governed by the power gained within the party by the candidate over the years.
Prospects of her Mandate
Truss has the great challenge of governing a country going through its worst crisis in decades. She promised to act quickly when it comes to energy tariff hikes, as they have increased by more than 80%. Additionally, cut taxes, and make the economy grow after inflation has soared above 10%, with the prospect of exceeding 18% by the end of the year.
Given her reputation for being persuasive in politics and skilled at short distances, she recently hinted that no general election will be held in the near future after reaffirming that her government would deliver a big victory in 2024 for the Conservative Party. As of today, the polls are currently predicting a Labour victory. Will she manage to turn around electoral expectations, or will she just have to manage a change of government?