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Over the past three years, Boris Johnson’s tenure as the U.K.’s head of government has been riddled with scandal—but on September 6, Liz Truss formally took over as Britain's prime minister. After being elected the leader of the Conservative Party on Sunday, September 5, Truss flew to Scotland’s Balmoral Castle, where the Queen is vacationing, in order to take part in a formal “passing of the baton” ceremony. The next day, Johnson delivered his farewell speech; Truss was then officially asked by the Queen to form a government in her name—and, of course, Truss accepted.
As the new head of government and, notably, only the third woman to hold the position in the U.K., Truss has plenty on her shoulders. For example, there's the U.K’s energy crisis, double-digit inflation, and labor unrest, just to name a few issues that Truss is now tasked with addressing. Here’s everything you need to know about Britain’s new prime minister.
Truss' background in politics goes way back.
As you might expect, Britain’s new prime minister has an extensive background in politics and government. Since being elected to Parliament in 2010, Truss has held a number of impressive cabinet roles. Most recently, Truss served under Johnson as Foreign Secretary, and before that, as International Trade Secretary and Environment Secretary. Additionally, Truss broke barriers in 2016 when she was elected both Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, the first woman to hold either position. She was also very active in politics as a college student, but more on that later.
She's been called a political chameleon.
Over the years, Truss has flip-flopped on a range of political issues, per The New York Times. As a college student at Oxford, she was an activist for the Liberal Democrat Party and fought to abolish the monarchy and legalize marijuana. Shortly after graduating in 1996, however, she joined the Conservative Party, of which she is now the leader.
Additionally, she famously campaigned for Britain to stay in the E.U. only to change her stance after the country voted to leave in 2016. Now she’s considered one of Brexit’s most ardent supporters.
Truss is often compared to Margaret Thatcher.
Interestingly enough, Truss has been compared to Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, the same woman she campaigned against as a college student. The comparisons don’t necessarily have anything to do with politics, but rather Truss’ pattern of modeling Thatcher’s famous public appearances. For example, while serving as Foreign Secretary in 2021, Truss posed for a picture in a Challenger 2 tank while in Estonia, a picture that has a clear resemblance to a famous photo of Thatcher in a Challenger tank in 1986 (opens in new tab). She also wore a faux fur hat while visiting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavro, which was similar to a hat Thatcher wore on a trip to Russia in 1987.
Whether Truss is intentionally taking after the “Iron Lady” or not, she isn't here for the comparisons. Speaking to BBC Radio 4 in July, Truss argued that women in politics tend to get compared to Thatcher, whether or not they are actually similar. “I am my own person,” she said (via NBC News).
She has three major priorities as prime minister.
In her first speech from Downing Street, Truss ensured the public that she is ready to get the ball rolling. She promised to “take action this day, and action every day” and outlined her priorities as she steps into her new position.
First, she says she plans on regrowing Britain’s economy through a series of tax cuts, reforms, and new building projects. Secondly, she addressed the energy crisis and said she will get “hands on.” Not going into specifics, Truss simply noted that she will “take action this week to deal with energy bills and to secure our future energy supply.” Lastly, she stated she will be making reforms to the U.K.’s National Health Service, although not supplying how.
Truss then gave a poignant statement to finish off her first speech as prime minister. She said, “I am confident that together we can: ride out the storm, we can rebuild our economy, and we can become the modern brilliant Britain that I know we can be.”
Brooke Knappenberger is the Editorial Fellow at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from books and celebrities to fashion and beauty. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. Brooke is a proud St. Louis native and is currently living in New York City. Outside of work, you can find her either jamming out to Drake, reading a Sarah J. Maas novel, or shamelessly online shopping.
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