LONDON (AP) — Liz Truss became Britain’s prime minister Tuesday and immediately faces a mammoth task ahead of her amid mounting pressure to rein in rising prices, ease labor unrest and fix a health care system burdened by long waiting lists and staff shortages.
At the top of his in-box is an energy crisis fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which threatens to push energy bills to unaffordable levels, shutter businesses and leave the country’s poor shivering in icy homes this winter.
Truss, who refused to spell out his energy strategy during a two-month campaign to succeed Boris Johnson, now plans to cap energy bills at a cost to taxpayers of 100 billion pounds ($116 billion), British news media reported on Tuesday. He is expected to unveil his plan on Thursday.
“You have to be aware of the cost of living crisis in the UK, which is really bad at the moment,” Rebecca MacDougall, 55, who works in law enforcement, said outside the Houses of Parliament.
“She promises it, she’s going to deliver, deliver, deliver,” he said. “But hopefully in the next few weeks there will be some announcements that will help the average working person.”
Truss was sworn in at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Tuesday afternoon, asking Queen Elizabeth II to form a new government in a carefully choreographed ceremony dictated by centuries of tradition. Johnson, who announced his resignation two months ago, formally resigned during his own audience with the Queen a short time ago.
It is the first time in the Queen’s 70-year reign that power has been delegated to Balmoral rather than Buckingham Palace in London. The ceremony was moved to Scotland to provide certainty about the schedule as the 96-year-old Queen experienced problems with getting around, forcing palace officials to make decisions about her travel on a daily basis.
Truss, 47, was the only voter among the party’s 172,000 dues-paying members a day after the ruling Conservative Party elected him leader. As party leader, Truss automatically became prime minister without the need for a general election, as the Conservatives still had a majority in parliament.
But as a prime minister elected by less than 0.5% of British adults, Truss is under pressure to show quick results.
Ed Davey, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, on Tuesday called for an early election in October.
“I listened to Liz Truss during the Tory leadership (campaign) and was looking for a plan to help people with the NHS crisis and so on,” he said. BBC.
“People are so worried, people are losing sleep over their energy bills, businesses aren’t investing because of the crisis, I think that’s really wrong,” Davey said.
Johnson was mindful of the difficulties facing Britain, who was last ranked no. Leaving the Prime Minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street, his policies left the government with the economic strength to help people tackle the energy crisis.
While many observers expected Johnson to make a political comeback, he supported Truss and compared himself to the Roman dictator Cincinnatus, who abdicated power and returned to his farm to live in peace.
“Like Cincinnatus, I return to my plough,” he said. “I will offer nothing but the most vigorous support to this government.”
Susie Plann contributed to this story.
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