Liz Truss set to become new UK prime minister, ‘great friend of Israel’

“Congratulations to my good friend and a great friend of Israel, Liz Truss,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said.”

By Associated Press

Britain’s Conservative Party announced Monday that Liz Truss, currently the country’s foreign secretary, has been elected as the party’s new leader and thus the U.K.’s new prime minister.

Truss, 47, beat former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak after a leadership contest in which only about 170,000 dues-paying members of the Conservative Party were allowed to vote. Truss received 81,326 votes, compared with Sunak’s 60,399.

She faces immediate pressure to deliver on her promises to tackle a cost-of-living crisis walloping the U.K. and an economy heading into a potentially lengthy recession.

Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to formally appoint Truss as Britain’s prime minister on Tuesday. The ceremony will take place at the queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland, where the monarch is spending her summer, rather than Buckingham Palace in London.

The two-month leadership contest left Britain with a power vacuum at a time of growing discontent across the country amid spiraling energy and food costs. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made no major policy decisions since he announced he was stepping down on July 7, and officials insisted that measures to address the energy cost crisis would be deferred until his successor is in place.

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Meanwhile, tens of thousands of workers have gone on strike to demand better pay to keep up with relentlessly rising costs. Inflation is above 10% for the first time since the 1980s, and the Bank of England has forecast that will reach a 42-year high of 13.3% in October. That’s largely driven by soaring energy bills, which will jump 80% for the average household starting next month.

“I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy. 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,” Truss told party members after she was elected.

“I know that our beliefs resonate with the British people: Our beliefs in freedom, in the ability to control your own life, in low taxes, in personal responsibility,” she added. “I know that’s why people voted for us in such numbers in 2019 and as your party leader I intend to deliver what we promised those voters right across our great country.”

Truss has won the support of many Conservatives with her Thatcherite zeal to roll back state intervention and slash taxes. Both she and her rival Sunak have spoken of their admiration for Margaret Thatcher, who was prime minister from 1979 to 1990, and her free-market, small-government economics.

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It’s not clear how Truss’s right-wing brand of conservatism, which played so well with party members, will go down with the wider British public – especially those most in need of government relief to help heat their homes this winter.

“This is someone who believes in the market in a radical way, someone who believes that the objective of government is to get towards a much smaller state sooner rather than later. She takes that very seriously,” said Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at Nottingham University.

While the economy is certain to dominate the first months of the new premier’s term, Johnson’s successor will also have to steer the U.K. on the international stage in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine, an increasingly assertive China and ongoing tensions with the European Union over the aftermath of Brexit – especially in Northern Ireland.

“Congratulations to my good friend and a great friend of Israel, Liz Truss,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.

“Our nations are allies united by our commitment to freedom and a shared vision for the future. I look forward to continuing our work together to take that alliance to new heights.”

Truss will be the U.K.’s fourth Conservative prime minister in six years, entering Downing Street following Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron.

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Johnson was forced to resign after a series of ethics scandals that peaked in July, when dozens of cabinet ministers and lower-level officials quit in protest over his handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by a senior member of his government.

World Israel News contributed to this report.