By Elias Hunt
The United Kingdom swore in its new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, on Sept. 6 after she won a party election against fellow Conservative Party candidate, Rishi Sunak.
The decision comes after former Prime Minister Boris Johnson stepped down from the position in July after a series of scandals and dwindling public support. In British politics, the leader of the party with a parliamentary majority becomes prime minister, with no obligation to face a popular vote until five years into their term. Three of the United Kingdom’s last four prime ministers, including Johnson, came into office between elections, according to the New York Times.
Although Truss won her party’s vote, Sunak was more popular among lawmakers, having proved himself as a competent minister of finance under Johnson. However, he faced scrutiny from party members due to his personal wealth and attendance of a party that broke Covid-19 regulations.
Truss faces a wide set of challenges as she begins her time in office, including rising interest rates, inflation and household spending. Business leaders ranging from industrial sectors to the hospitality industry have demanded that Truss help with the rising energy costs and tight labor markets to prevent firms from going bust.
According to Reuters, Veteran Conservative lawmaker, David Davis, labeled the challenges Truss faces as “probably the second most difficult brief of post-war prime ministers” after Conservative Margaret Thatcher started in 1979.
The Washington Post reported that in addition to becoming the third female prime minister in British history after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, Truss has also made history by appointing three people of color to major offices: Foriegn Secretary, Home Secretary and Finance Chief.
If she can navigate through the looming economic issues and manage Conservative Party expectations, Truss may raise her public approval enough to open an early popular vote, although this is still a major political risk.
After Truss’ win, former prime minister Boris Johnson expressed his feelings on Twitter.
"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 leveling up our country,” Johnson wrote in a tweet. “Now is the time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100 percent."