On her first full day in office, Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss calls a special cabinet meeting with her top officials before fielding a barrage of inquiries from lawmakers.
In a morning meeting, Truss will meet her top staff after officially taking over as leader on Tuesday during an audience with Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland following Boris Johnson’s resignation.
They include the most diverse executive team in British history, with Suella Braverman serving as interior minister, James Cleverly serving as foreign secretary, and Kwasi Kwarteng serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
They must deal with a dizzying array of problems, chief among them the highest inflation rates in decades and how to pay for energy prices that are expected to increase by 80% next month and then again in January.
The Bank of England has forecast that the nation will enter a recession later this year.
In one of her first discussions with a foreign leader late on Tuesday, she agreed with US President Joe Biden “on the necessity of safeguarding” peace in the province. She must also manage the explosive topic of post-Brexit commercial arrangements in Northern Ireland.
In its readout of the call, the White House also said Truss and Biden addressed “the challenges posed by China (and) preventing Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
Truss, who had just barely escaped a torrential downpour, was optimistic as she made her maiden trip as premier into Downing Street.
“I am confident that together we can ride out the storm,” she said.
According to rumors, her new ministers may be asked to approve right once a plan to freeze energy prices for the upcoming winter and potentially longer. This move would cost tens of billions of pounds.
Tax reductions and rerouting some health spending to social care may also be on the table, according to reports.
“I will cut taxes to reward hard work and boost business-led growth and investment,” Truss promised, while also vowing “action this week” on gas and electricity bills and broader energy policy.
After Cabinet, Truss will go to the House of Commons to debate Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, in the first Prime Minister’s Questions session between the two.
Truss’ political savvy, rhetorical prowess, and degree of support for the Conservative Party will be put to the test during the frequently raucous weekly session, which features questions from MPs for the prime minister.
After a grueling campaign against former finance minister Rishi Sunak that started in July, the 47-year-old Tory member won an internal vote on Monday with 57 percent of the vote.
However, at the beginning of the campaign, she only received support from less than a third of the parliamentary party.
After a heated leadership struggle, she now has a difficult task ahead of her: bringing the ruling Tories back together.
Conservative MPs are “almost ungovernable” and have “no appetite to cope with difficult decisions,” according to a government insider quoted by the Financial Times on Monday.
“They did for Boris and they may do for Liz, too,” the source told the paper.
Starmer and the Labour ranks will probably fire off a barrage of harsh questions at Truss as they try to take advantage of the months-long chaos inside the Conservative Party.
Even though Labour has a double-digit lead in the polls, there may still be a two-year wait before the next general election.
In light of the upcoming election, Truss promised on Monday to bring the Conservatives to victory “in 2024.”
There are concerns that these actions could worsen inflation. Truss sold herself to the Tory grassroots as a tax-cutting, free-trade champion prepared to lower taxes right away to boost economy.
Prices in the UK have already risen this year at their fastest rate in four decades as a result of rising energy expenses.
Her proposed solutions would curb gas and electricity costs for both homes and businesses at levels similar to what they are now, at least through the upcoming winter.
To make up the gap that they pay due to skyrocketing global wholesale prices, the government would finance or guarantee private sector loans to energy providers.
It is yet unknown whether the government will finance the plan through increased borrowing or by imposing fees on consumers’ energy bills over the next two decades.
Paul Johnson, a respected thinker at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), said it was “a dreadful policy” but likely necessary.
“Hugely expensive, untargeted, increases risk of shortages,” he noted on Twitter.
But he warned the scale of the problem “means there may just be no practical alternative.”