Monday, April 15, 2024

Truss vows tax cuts after winning vote to be next British PM


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London – Liz Truss will become Britain’s next prime minister after winning a leadership race for the governing Conservative Party on Monday, vowing to press ahead with promised tax cuts and action to tackle a deepening energy and cost of living crisis.

After weeks of an often bad-tempered and divisive leadership contest, Truss, currently the foreign minister and the favourite to win, beat former finance minister Rishi Sunak in a vote of Conservative Party members, winning by 81 326 votes to 60 399.

“I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy,” Truss said after the result was announced. “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 takes over as the country faces a crunch on household finances, industrial unrest, a recession, and war in Europe, where Britain has been a leading backer of Ukraine.

She appeared to rule out another national election before 2024, when she promised to deliver a great victory for her party.

But in a sign of deep divisions in her party, her winning margin was much narrower than had been expected and the narrowest in any Conservative leadership election held this century.

Truss also won with the support of less than 50% of members, as almost one in five did not vote.

“It’s right we now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times,” Sunak said on Twitter.

Truss will succeed Boris Johnson, who was forced to announce his resignation in July after months of scandals eroded support for his administration and ministers quit to force him out.

Johnson will travel to Scotland to meet Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday to officially tender his resignation. Truss will follow him and be asked to form a government by the monarch.

“I know she has the right plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, unite our party and continue the great work of uniting and levelling up our country,” Johnson said on Twitter. “Now is the time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100 per cent.”

Long the front-runner to replace him, Truss will become the Conservatives’ fourth prime minister since a 2015 election.

Since then, Britain stumbled from crisis to crisis, and now is facing a long recession and inflation that hit double digits in July.

Within minutes of her victory, business leaders from the hospitality sector to manufacturing and chemical industries demanded help with the soaring cost of energy and tight labour markets to stop firms going bust.

Truss, 47, promised to act quickly, saying within a week she will come up with a plan to tackle rising energy bills and secure future fuel supplies.

She signalled during her leadership campaign she was going to challenge convention by scrapping tax increases and cutting other levies in a decision some economists said may further fuel inflation.

That, and a pledge to review the remit of the Bank of England while protecting its independence, prompted some investors to dump the pound and government bonds.



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