Liz Truss has today won the race to be the leader of the Conservative Party and therefore the UK’s Prime Minister, beating her rival Rishi Sunak by over 20,000 votes.
In her acceptance speech, Mrs Truss said that she will “deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy” and that she 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”.
Who is Liz Truss and what is her background?
Liz Truss is the Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk and most recently the Foreign Secretary.
Starting her career as an accountant, Mrs Truss worked in the energy and telecommunications sector for ten years, before becoming a councillor in Greenwich in 2006. She then became MP for South West Norfolk in 2010 and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare in 2012. Following this Mrs Truss was appointed as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2014, followed by roles as the Justice Secretary, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and International Trade Secretary. Liz Truss was then appointed as Foreign Secretary by Boris Johnson in September 2021.
What’s in the inbox?
It is fair to say the new Prime Minister (officially coming into effect on 6th September) will have to hit the ground running, with energy security and soaring bills, food security and agricultural policy, the stalling British economy and the country’s environmental transition all requiring urgent attention.
While those close to Liz Truss have insisted she places a large amount of importance on renewable energy and is fully committed to existing Net Zero plans, there has been concern expressed by many over comments made by Mrs Truss, including a pledge to suspend green levies on energy bills and vowing to change planning laws to restrict the development of “paraphernalia like solar farms”.
By contrast, the incoming Prime Minister has publicly supported fracking for shale gas and, according to reports, wishes to increase oil drilling in the North Sea.
What’s the reaction been?
Reaction to Liz Truss’ appointment has, as expected, been dominated by calls to urgently tackle issues concerning energy, food and the environment.
Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the REA said:
“We welcome the new Prime Minister to her role and look forward to working with her closely to deliver the solutions to the energy crisis.
“We have been clear for some time – there needs to be substantive upfront support for households and businesses for the bills they will be required to pay, to help them get through an incredibly challenging winter.
“However, the root cause of the problem – the reliance on price volatile fossil fuels, particularly gas – needs to be tackled in parallel. That means accelerating the deployment of renewable energy; making homes and buildings more energy efficient; and providing real proactivity and focus to deliver well designed market reforms to protect consumers from the prices being seen in international fossil fuel markets.
“As we have warned throughout the leadership contest, knee jerk and ill-thought out cuts to renewable energy investment schemes will simply store up problems for the future, and save relatively little in the short-term. To deliver an energy future that is independent, secure and stable, we need to accelerate renewable energy deployment. That is how we solve this crisis.”
RenewableUK’s Chief executive Dan McGrail said:
“We’re looking forward to working with the new Prime Minister and her team to take forward new measures to reduce energy bills, both in the short term and the long term.
“Firstly, it’s vital that she should re-commit to the ambitious targets set out in the Government’s Energy Security Strategy, which will move us further and faster towards energy independence. That means more than quadrupling our offshore wind capacity to 50GW by 2030 – including 5GW of innovative floating wind.
“We know onshore wind projects can be up and running within a year of approval, providing the country with much needed low-cost clean energy, so we’re urging Liz Truss to pull out all the stops to encourage new projects to go ahead in areas where they have local support.”
The National Farmers Union (NFU) reacted by saying:
“The NFU would like to welcome Liz Truss as the new Prime Minister.
“Britain’s farmers are critically important in providing the nation with home-grown food and we look forward to working with you to ensure farming has a vibrant and sustainable future.”
Andrew Eldred, the Director of Workforce and Public Affairs at the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), said:
“One of Liz Truss’ first orders of business as PM must be to bring down the cost of energy by supporting the transition to low cost, low carbon solutions. Our sector is leading the way in pivoting businesses to net zero energy saving solutions.
“But in an industry dominated by SMEs averaging 2.5 per cent profit margin and faced with more than 23 per cent inflation, the vast majority will struggle to cope with the latest energy price hikes adding to their own business overheads.
“Ms Truss must act now to support electrotechnical SMEs and avoid an industry crisis with severe knock-on effects across the construction supply chain, the likes of which we have not seen since the collapse of Carillion in 2018.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said via Twitter:
“(Liz Truss) must now freeze energy bills for people & businesses, deliver more cash support, and increase funding for public services.”
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton, was far from positive about the appointment, commenting:
“Just when we see the back of a law-breaking, Parliament-proroguing, office-abusing PM in Boris Johnson – he’s replaced by a climate-wrecking, handout-refusing, redistribution-opposing, Brexit ideologue PM in Liz Truss. Buckle up, it’s going to be a rough ride.”
Liz Truss will officially become Prime Minister on Tuesday 6th September following a meeting with the Queen at Balmoral in Scotland. All eyes will then be on the new administration as it seeks to tackle the mounting & urgent issues facing he country.