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New UK Prime Minister: Liz Truss announced as Boris Johnson’s replacement as PM

The Conservative Party leadership election has named Liz Truss as winner, making her the third woman to lead the UK.

Liz Truss named as new UK Prime Minister

The United Kingdom has a new leader today as Liz Truss was announced as Prime Minister, beating Conservative Party colleague Rishi Sunak. Her victory was confirmed by Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, in a live announcment from Westminster, London.

The leadership contest was triggered by the resignation of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson back in August after a series of scandals engulfed his premiership. Truss will begin work in 10 Downing Street immediately and faces a cost of living crisis that could push millions into poverty in the coming months.

What is on the agenda for the new PM?

Truss takes over at a difficult time in the UK with spiralling inflation causing real pain for families and experts warning that price rises could continue to increase further. She takes her place in Downing Street after winning the support of a small group of Conservative Party members, but she will have to turn her focus towards the country as a whole if she is to make it to the next general election.

A recent poll by YouGov asked members of the public what they thought the new PM’s top priority should be and it was little surprise to see the cost of living crisis as the top concern.

Respondents were asked to name the top three priorities for Johnson’s replacement; these were the most common responses:

  1. The rise in the cost of living – 74%
  2. The economy – 47%
  3. The environment and climate change – 28%
  4. Health – 25%
  5. Immigration & asylum – 20%
  6. The Russia-Ukraine conflict – 13%
  7. Crime – 11%
  8. Tax – 10%
  9. Britain leaving the EU – 9%
  10. Housing – 8%

Why wasn’t there a general election in the UK?

The UK’s parliamentary system dictates that the electorate does not actually vote for the Prime Minister, but rather casts their ballots for a local representative. At general election time the votes will be tallied in each constituency and the candidate with the most votes will be sent to represent the constituency as a Member of Parliament, also known as an MP.

The party which secures the most seats in the House of Commons will essentially control Parliament, and the leader of that party will take up residence in Downing Street as the Prime Minister.

The most recent general election in the UK came in 2019, when Johnson won a landslide victory. There is no obligation for another election until 2023, meaning that the Conservative Party was able to name Johnson’s successor as party leader and therefore the new PM.

Each party has its own mechanism for deciding on the party leader. In the case of the Conservative Party the system requires the parliamentary party (the MPs) to first whittle down all candidates through a series of votes, until there are just two left.

The final two are then subject to ballot from the regular members of the Conservative Party. At last count the Party’s membership stood at around 180,000, representing just 0.3% of the adult population.


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