Dashing the hopes of Indians in India who get excited about an Indian-origin person occupying a high seat anywhere in the world, Liz Truss has become the United Kingdom's new prime minister, winning an internal leadership contest of the ruling Conservatives at a time when the country faces an industrial unrest and a recession.
Liz Truss beat her rival, former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak of Indian origin, by 81,326 votes to 60,399, after a summer-long often bad-tempered and divisive party leadership contest sparked by Boris Johnson's resignation in July.
As Liz Truss was confirmed successor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Truss vowed "bold" action to confront the biting economic crisis.
"We need to show that we will deliver over the next two years. I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy," Truss said after the result was announced.
"I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people's energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply."
Formality involved in Liz Truss' becoming new British PM
Liz Truss will be taking over as the new British prime minister tomorrow after meeting the queen at Balmoral in Scotland to complete the transfer of power. This visit to Balmoral will also be a first as, traditionally, the queen welcomes new prime ministers at Buckingham Palace in London, but the monarch has not been well for some time and faces issues with her mobility, necessitating the visit by the new prime minister to Scotland. The challenge of an ageing monarchy under cloud is, however, just one, and probably the least tricky of the many issues that Liz Truss will have to grapple with as she takes over a divided party and a nation badly in need of a sense of direction after Johnson’s "malgovernance and lack of discipline", as a commentator put it.
Liz Truss, 47, will be only the third woman prime minister of the UK after Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher.
Boris Johnson, a lost opportunity
The announcement triggers the start of a handover from Boris Johnson, who was forced to announce his resignation in July after months of scandal saw support for his administration drain away.
Boris Johnson will travel to Scotland to meet Queen Elizabeth tomorrow to officially tender his resignation. Truss will follow him and be asked to form a government by the monarch.
Johnson, who won one of the largest political mandates in 2019 after leading the Conservatives to their biggest majority at Westminster since Margaret Thatcher’s election victory in 1987, could not translate it into an effective governance agenda and lurched from one crisis to the next.
Liz Truss will be succeeding Boris Johnson at a time of great intra-party and national turmoil.
Rishi Sunak not British enough?
Rishi Sunak, who was defeated by Liz Truss, lost out to her despite the backing of the majority of Tory MPs. He could not generate confidence among the 1,60,000-odd Tory members who saw him as too disconnected from their day-to-day lives.
Rishi Sunak's role as the chancellor during the pandemic and the lockdowns and his assertion that he would want to be a responsible manager of public finances, which implied not announcing a tax cut like his rival, did not really endear him to the Conservatives.
For long the frontrunner in the race to replace Boris Johnson, Liz Truss will become the Conservatives' fourth prime minister since the 2015 election.
For that period, the country has been buffeted from crisis to crisis, and now faces what is forecast to be a long recession triggered by sky-rocketing inflation which hit 10.1% in July.
Truss campaigned on a platform of slashing taxes and bulldozing bureaucratic "orthodoxy", particularly in the finance ministry where she once worked.
The task for Liz Truss is cut out. She must brave a long, costly and difficult to-do list, which opposition lawmakers say is the result of 12 years of poor Conservative government. Several have called for an early election – something Truss has said she will not allow.