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Liz Truss is officially the new British prime minister
By Rob Picheta and Ed Upright, CNN
Liz Truss promised to “ride out the storm” as Prime Minister, and it’s not clear whether she was referring to the multiple crises crippling the United Kingdom or the flash shower that briefly scuppered her first big speech.
Tuesday was a busy and country-spanning day for Britain’s new leader; Truss met the Queen in Scotland to seal her promotion, and enjoyed a set-piece introduction outside the black door of Number 10.
But the reality is that Truss’ premiership starts under a cloud. Boris Johnson’s dramatic fall has tarnished the reputation of the governing Conservatives, and Brits are almost universally more concerned about their household bills than the identity of their leader.
Truss pledged action in a matter of days on the energy crisis, and put cutting taxes and boosting growth atop her priories too. She also accepted that the cherished National Health Service is buckling under pressure, pledging to restore that third rail of British public life.
Truss' listing of the problems facing the country represented something of an awkward pitch, given her party has been been in power for 12 years. And it's safe to say Britons' patience is wearing creaking further with each new Tory leader.
Truss must now battle not just a perfect storm of social and economic challenges, but also a rejuvenated Labour Party and a prevailing sense among voters that the Conservatives are out of ideas.
She survived a bitter and bruising leadership campaign that saw a number of her own Conservative colleagues trash her economic plan. She must excite a party with many members who never wanted Johnson to resign anyway. And her hopes of a brighter 2023 for the nation seem to diminish with every new economic forecast.
Still, starting from a place of low expectations can be helpful to a new leader. If Truss’s plan to tackle the cost of living crisis eases the pressures facing households, she could appear as the unlikely savior of her party.
Or, to set the bar more modestly, she could become the first post-Brexit Prime Minister to make it through their third year.
That challenge begins on Wednesday, when her one-day honeymoon ends and Truss faces her first grilling at Prime Minister's Questions.
After detailing her three top priorities, new British Prime Minister Liz Truss struck an optimistic note for the country, saying, "I am confident that together we can ride out the storm."
She underlined economy, energy and an improved NHS as the three priorities for her government that will ensure opportunity and prosperity for Britons.
We should not be daunted by the challenges we face. As strong as the storm may be, I know that the British people are stronger," Truss said.
"Our country was built by people who get things done," she continued. "We have huge reserves of talent, of energy and determination. I am confident that together, we can ride out the storm. We can rebuild our country and become the modern, brilliant Britain that all you know we can be."
New British Prime Minister Liz Truss said that growing the economy, responding to the energy crisis and improving the National Health Service are her three top priorities in the job.
“I will get Britain working again,” she said, pledging a tax-cutting economic plan that prioritizes “business-led growth.” Truss promised to cut taxes throughout her campaign to become Tory leader, despite her rival and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak warning her plans would fuel inflation.
“We’ll get spades in the ground to make sure people are not facing unaffordable energy bills,” she added.
Truss's second priority is to tackle the energy crisis, promising “action this week to deal with energy bills.” Brits have faced huge spikes in their energy bills during 2022, and the opposition Labour Party has urged the government to freeze rates until next spring, and pay for it with a windfall tax on gas companies.
And the health service, which is struggling through a staffing crisis that has left many people unable to get appointments and treatments, rounds out Truss’s agenda. She promised to ensure that “people can get doctors’ appointment and the NHS service they need.”
“We will put our health service on a firm footing,” Truss said.
Truss said she will “transform Britain into an aspiration nation,” promising higher-paying jobs and safer streets.
“I will take action this day, and action every day, to make it happen,” she said.
Truss then emphasized Britain’s relationship with its global partners. “We can’t have security at home without having security abroad,” she added.
Liz Truss is giving her first speech as the UK’s prime minister.
She began by paying tribute to Boris Johnson, saying “history will see him as a hugely consequential prime minister.”
"What makes the United Kingdom great is our fundamental belief in freedom, in enterprise, and in fair play,” she said.
But she acknowledged “severe global headwinds,” including Russia’s war in Ukraine and the aftermath of the pandemic.
It briefly drenched Liz Truss's parade, threatening to push back the new prime minister's first speech.
Heavy rain showers have been soaking Westminster while Truss is driven to Downing Street -- her MPs and aides briefly scurried inside to take cover, and a black garbage bag was placed over the podium where Truss was due to speak. The imagery isn't ideal.
But the showers then passed, and some very damp MPs made their way back outside. It looks like Truss is going to persevere in her attempts for a set-piece introduction in front of the famous black door.
Truss's motorcade is now just a few minutes from Westminster.
Liz Truss has landed back in London after flying back from visiting the Queen in Scotland, and is heading to 10 Downing Street.
Once she arrives, Truss will address the gaggle of reporters gathered outside -- her first public remarks since becoming prime minister.
We're expecting that within the next hour. Once she has spoken, all attention will turn to who she's putting in her Cabinet.
If you're just catching up, Tuesday has been a busy day in Westminster.
Britain has seen a prime ministerial change, and there's more drama to come later. Here's what you've missed:
- Liz Truss has officially become PM. Truss flew to Scotland to meet the Queen on Tuesday, the final, formal step in her ascension to prime minister. She beat rival Rishi Sunak in the Conservative leadership contest on Monday after a weeks-long campaign.
- Boris Johnson stepped down. Shortly before Truss's meeting with the Queen, Boris Johnson had to make an altogether more humbling appointment. He tendered his resignation to the monarch to clear the path for Truss to take over; weeks ago, he was forced to quit after his lawmakers lost confidence in his scandal-ridden premiership.
- 'They changed the rules.' Johnson said goodbye in a defiant, at times bitter speech outside Downing Street, during which he nodded to the lawmakers who moved to oust him by suggesting that they "changed the rules" to do so. He declined to apologize for the scandals over honesty and integrity that sunk his tenure.
And here's what is coming up later on Tuesday:
- Truss will arrive in Downing Street. The new Prime Minister has landed in London after her whirlwind trip to Scotland. She'll go straight to Downing Street and is expected to make a statement outside its famous black door (or, if the weather has its say, inside the building.)
- A new Cabinet will be named. Speculation is rife about who will take senior roles in Truss's first Cabinet. She'll be expected to promote many allies who backed her leadership campaign. Kwasi Kwarteng and Suella Braverman are tipped for promotions; two Johnson loyalists, Nadine Dorries and Priti Patel, have quit.
Then, on Wednesday:
- Truss's first PMQs. The new Prime Minister faces a daunting task on her second day in the job: her inaugural Prime Minister's Questions, when Labour leader Keir Starmer will likely grill her on her plans to tackle the cost of living crisis.