In her first parliamentary meeting as British prime minister, Liz Truss on Wednesday reaffirmed plans to halt a massive rise in energy costs that threatens to plunge her new government into a winter of discontent.
Truss also enjoyed her position as the UK government’s third female prime minister, with opposition Labor chief Keir Starmer falling out for the first time since Boris Johnson’s successor, noting that Labor still needed a woman. The leader is to be chosen.
Truss denied an unexpected tax on energy firms’ huge profits, but said details of his plan would be released Thursday to ensure consumers and businesses can still afford heating in the coming months.
While Johnson used the weekly session of “Prime Minister’s Questions” to dramatically attack Starmer, the truce was more business-like as he promised a right-wing program of tax cuts to revive the UK economy. did.
Starmer cast Truss as the 12-year successor to the Tory government, leading to the current crisis in inflation, which is linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine, adding that “nothing new” about his policies. ” was not.
“There is nothing new about a Labor leader calling for more tax hikes,” Truss responded, earning a roar of approval from Conservative lawmakers – most of whom initially hailed his leadership rival, Rishi Sunak. was supported.
Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May vehemently asked Truss why only the Conservatives were able to elect women leaders – May herself and Margaret Thatcher. A Tory backbencher shouted “3-0!”
Starmer’s deputy Angela Renner watched with a painful expression as Truss said it was “extraordinary” that Labor could not find a female leader, or one who did not live in left-leaning north London.
Earlier on Wednesday, Truss convened his revamped cabinet, which includes the most diverse top team in British history: Kwasi Quarteng as finance minister, James Cleverley as foreign secretary and Suella Braverman as interior minister.
Under the costly plans developed by Truss and Quarteng, gas and electricity bills for both homes and businesses are expected to be limited near current levels for at least the coming winter.
The government will lend or guarantee private sector loans to energy providers so they can pay off rising global wholesale prices, which have driven UK inflation above 10 per cent.
With inflation hitting a 40-year high, a wave of strikes, including railway workers and criminal lawyers, has sparked a wave of strikes, with more sectors threatening to exit in an initial challenge to the administration of the truss.
On the eve of the announcement of the truce’s energy plan, the British pound fell to its lowest dollar level since 1985, falling to $1.1406 at around 1400 GMT.
Along with the urgent issue of energy prices, Truss’s government must also navigate the burning problem of the post-Brexit trading system in Northern Ireland.
In his first contact with foreign leaders, the new Conservative leader spoke on the phone late Tuesday with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky and then-US President Joe Biden.
According to Downing Street, she agreed with Biden on “the importance of protecting the peace in Northern Ireland”.
In parliament, Truss said she was “firm” to break the impasse, and supported a “negotiable agreement” with the European Union.
As for Zelensky, the truce vowed to maintain full support for Ukraine against Russia by Johnson before being pulled out after a series of scandals.
After a fierce contest against former finance minister Sunak that began in July, Truss, 47, won an internal poll of Tory members on Monday, securing 57 percent of the vote.
She now faces a formidable challenge to rejoin the ruling Tories after a leadership battle, but observers noted that she had expelled nearly every Sunak supporter from cabinet.
Former soldier Johnny Mercer said he was “disappointed” to be sacked as minister of veterans affairs.
His wife Felicity Cornelius-Mercer went further, calling Truss a “stupid” after she tweeted a photo mocking the new prime minister as a retarded character from “The Muppets.”
The Times quoted one of its incoming ministers as saying: “I doubt she will last two years.”
Labor has a double-digit lead in the polls, but its popularity may have to wait two more years to be tested.
A general election is scheduled to be held by January 2025 at the latest. Truss refused to hold an early election on Wednesday, perhaps noting that he needed time to win over a skeptical voter after Johnson’s defeat.
A new poll by Ipsos found that only a third of people expect Truss to do a good job as prime minister, while another say she will do a bad job.
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