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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Liz Truss Will Become Prime Minister After Winning The Conservative Leadership Contest

Liz Truss was announced as the next Tory leader on Monday 6 September (Alamy)

5 min read

Liz Truss will become the UK's new Prime Minister on Tuesday after beating rival Rishi Sunak to become the leader of the Conservative party following a fraught contest to replace Boris Johnson.

The foreign secretary received 81,326 votes to Rishi Sunak’s 60,399, gaining the support of 57.4 per cent and 42.6 per cent of the membership respectively. The turnout was 83 per cent.

Truss’ victory came as a surprise to nobody in Westminster’s QEII Centre, where the result was announced, and Johnson’s successor could hardly conceal her glee when she made her way to her seat moments before the result was confirmed. 

Her short acceptance speech, in which she promised to “deliver, deliver, deliver”, and the serious mood among her backers in the room, reflected the fact that the incoming administration knows it has a gargantuan task in tackling the cost of living crisis caused by spiralling household bills. 

Truss will fly to Scotland tomorrow to be sworn into office by the Queen at her Balmoral residence before returning to London the same day to make her first speech outside Downing Street.

She will follow outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson who will also travel to Balmoral to formally offer his resignation to the Queen.

Following the announcement of her victory, Truss said: "It's an honour to be elected as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. I'd like to thank the 1922 Committee, the party chairman and the Conservative Party for organising one of the longest job interviews in history."

She went on to pay tribute to the runner up Sunak, claiming it had been a "hard fought campaign" which had shown the "depth and breadth of talent" in the party.

"I also want to thank our outgoing leader, my friend, Boris Johnson," she continued. 

"Boris, you got Brexit done. You crushed Jeremy Corbyn. You rolled out the vaccine, and you stood up to Vladimir Putin. You are admired from Kyiv to Carlisle."

She pledged that the party would "deliver over the next two years" with a "bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy", as well as measures "dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply".

Shortly after the result was announced, Sunak thanked those who had voted for him alongside a statement of support for Truss. 

"I’ve said throughout that the Conservatives are one family," he tweeted. "It’s right we now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times."

Truss is expected to undertake a Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday evening, and will hold her first Cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning shortly before she faces Labour leader Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions.

One of her key allies Kwasi Kwarteng has been tipped for the next Chancellor, while fellow supporter James Cleverly is rumoured to be the next Foreign Secretary.

A source close to Kwarteng told PoliticsHome work had been going on behind the scenes for weeks in preparation for her cost of living announcement.

Truss has pledged that she will make an announcement on support for energy bills for households and businesses “within one week” of entering Downing Street.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, she also said she did not want to introduce temporary solutions to the energy crisis.

“We need to take the difficult decisions to ensure we are not in this position every autumn and winter. Sticking plasters and kicking the can down the road will not do,” she said.

Senior Tories lined up for appointments in Truss’s cabinet have told The Times “in no uncertain terms” that they would not rule out the idea that energy bills could be frozen, in a package set to rival the furlough scheme.

Speaking on Monday morning, Conservative MP Mark Harper has said all households would need further support with spiralling energy bills, and believed that targeted measures would be needed to help the most vulnerable.

“Whoever wins is going to have to provide a big package of support to help people get through the winter," the former Tory chief whip, who has supported Rishi Sunak’s leadership campaign, told Sky News. 

“It requires help to everybody but more help targeted at those who are at the lower end of the income distribution so we can get through that. I’ve spent the summer arguing that and so has Rishi Sunak.”

Responding to the news of Liz Truss' victory, Labour leader Keir Starmer said the country had "heard far more from the latest prime minister about cuts to corporation tax over the summer than we have about the cost of living crisis".

"That shows not only that she's out of touch, but she's not on the side of working people. So she needs to deal with the cost of living crisis, she needs to deal with the fact the NHS is on its knees, and she needs to deal with the collapse of law and order," he said. 

"There can be no justification for not freezing energy prices. There's a political consensus that needs to happen. She needs to ask the question how she's going to pay for that. Labour made it clear, it needs to be a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said Truss' victory meant the country would "see more of the same as under Boris Johnson", and called for a general election to be held in 2023 to "get the Conservatives out of power".

"From the cost of living emergency to the NHS crisis, the Conservatives have shown they don’t care, have no plan and have failed our country," he said.

"The government needs to scrap October’s energy price rise to avoid a social catastrophe for families and pensioners this winter."

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