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Liz Truss is UK Prime Minister: What's Sunak's future?

ANALYSIS: Rishi Sunak, the man in a hurry, is alleged to have stabbed BoJo in the back by resigning at the most opportune moment, triggering about 60 more resignations out of coincidence or conspiracy, hitting the nail in Johnson's coffin. Much maligned by a series of scams for quite some time, the voluble, pretentious, hilarious BoJo's support base among the Conservative party MPs had already been crumbling fast, even leading to a no-confidence vote which he narrowly survived a while ago.

Now that he had lost his "best job in the world", BoJo was determined to take revenge on Sunak, and launched vicious underground campaigns like the green card scam to tarnish his image he had been assiduously building up for long in anticipation.

The PM might have played a role in putting up Truss who was not in the reckoning in the beginning when nearly a dozen names were floated for the prime ministerial race. It is said Johnson mobilised support for her from the background, putting to use all the resources at his disposal. Truss thus became the dark horse, gradually taking on the front-runner Sunak.

Assuming for a moment Sunak were not to be a candidate this time, his bringing down the disgraced Prime Minister would have had an enormously positive political advantage for him for future use. The immediate public perception would not have been one of betrayal of BoJo (Although the reality would not change).

He had done many a thing in the immediate past to carve out an artificial image to promote his ambition. Even the $18 billion package might one day be seen as a freebie. Then everything happened in the month of July in supernatural speed. Later he was even directly questioned at several of the hustings about the integrity in bringing down BoJo.

The long and short of it is that morality in public life and literature as an integral part of British culture and long democratic tradition is an invincible force in the kingdom but at times mistakenly taken for granted!

What is the fallout?

by RM Nair

LONDON, Sept 5: British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is the new Prime Minister, it was announced on Monday at 12:30 pm local time (5 pm IST), after the counting of Conservative party votes. Truss defeated runner-up and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak by 81,326 votes to 60,399. She will be the third woman Prime Minister of the UK after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.

Delivering her victory speech, Truss said, "I will take bold action to get all of us through these tough times, grow our economy, and unleash the United Kingdom’s potential...I know, we'll deliver, we'll deliver, we'll deliver."

Sunak tweeted, "I've said throughout that the Conservatives are one family. It's right we now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times."

Mary Elizabeth Truss, 47, who has been the frontrunner in a neck and neck race with former Chancellor Rishi Sunak for No 10 Downing Street to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson who had resigned, was declared elected by Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs and returning officer for the polling.

There were 1,60,000 voters across the country casting their postal ballots. The Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), the headquarters of the British Conservative Party, was the official organiser of the polls. Truss will be the PM for the ramainder of BoJo's term, till 2024.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel in the morning on Tuesday to Balmoral castle in Scotland where Queen Elizabeth is currently staying to hand over his resignation. Usually the function takes place in Buckingham Palace but not this time as due to health reasons she willl not be coming back to the palace soon. So also the PM-designate will reach there and accept the appointment from the Queen. A ritual called "kissing of hands" between the outgoing and the designate PMs follows, where actually nothing happens. At 4 pm the new PM will make a speech outside 10 Downing Street where as Prime Minister she will outline her plans and policies and launches herself as the new PM. By this time the Cabinet will be in place. At noon on Wednesday will be the customary Question Time in the House of Commons where the PM faces the Opposition leader.

Runner-up Rishi Sunak, who timed his resignation as Chancellor of the Exchequer recently such that it set off a chain of resignations by about 60 ministers and officials leading to a rattled Boris Johnson's resignation, earned the notoriety of stabbing in the back BoJo who gave him space in the Cabinet. Although the Britons called it only as questionable "integrity". He looked like having struck BoJo at the most opportune moment and in the fastest way. The PM had just managed a confidence motion not long ago! At the end of his farewell BoJo appeared to have had an emotional upheaval over having to leave the "best job" in the world as also the fact that sections of his partymen ditched him. He left the stage abruptly. But before leaving he had pointed to a section in the audience.

Boris Johnson was determined to hit back. Truss was not in the reckoning at that time when others began announcing their candidature. BoJo reportedly backed her and she emerged as the dark horse. It is said he did whatever he could in whatsover way to mobilise support for her to defeat Sunak who had for quite some been trying to earn the image of the next prospective PM candidate. And in that he succeeded. Once it was rumoured that BoJo was behind an underground camapign against Sunak that he is a US green card holder and will one day run away.

Conservative party members from across the UK numbering 1,60,000 cast their votes to choose a Prime Minister in place of Boris Johnson, who resigned as he was losing majority support in view of a series of scandals and a host of problems like uncontrolled inflation and rising cost of living mainly due to high energy costs and supply issues.

There had been five to six rounds of voting by party MPs to narrow down the list of contestants. Once the number came down to two, the party members from all over the country cast postal ballots to choose the new Prime Minister.

WHAT THEY PROMISED

SUNAK:

(Rishi Sunak, 42, served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2020 to 2022, previously was the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been the Member of Parliament for Richmond since 2015. Of Indian origin, he is a British born citizen.)

Taxes, inflation, cost of living, energy bills, Brexit, Net Zero: The UK is currently facing an enormous economic crisis eluding a resolution for several months now, especially made harder by the covid pandemic and the Ukrainean invasion. The problems are: Inflation has hit a 40-year record in July and the consumer prices increased 9.1% over the last 12 months. It's the fastest increase in prices since November 1981. High energy bill following Ukrainean invasion is the main contributor. There are also shortages of goods, recession, supply bottlenecks etc.

No tax cut: Sunak said he will not reduce taxes because taxes are required to balance the books after the pandemic dole-out and record borrowing. A $ 18 billion package was provided in May to set off cost of living crisis.

More support for households to neutralise price rise: Now he will again offer fresh support to lower income people. This may be unlike of a Conservative policy but he wanted to do really bold things.

As for green levies, he wanted it to continue to meet the target set for 2050.

About Brexit, he had been a supporter since 2016, the very beginning he was in the Governmnet.

About household heating bills shooting up, Sunak promised more money will be pumbed in to support the low income people as the situation has worsened. "I will act. Government efficiency savings will fund support," he said. Energy bills constitute a major chunk of the rising cost of living, which has emerged as the main issue. During the pandemic, he had offered substantial support to pay workers to prevent layoffs. Sunak claims wherever he goes people come up and say "thank you." He was bold in action, especially while doing things non-Conservative in nature.

TRUSS:

(Mary Elizabeth Truss, 47, is the British Foreign Secretary since 2021. She was Minister for Women and Equalities since 2019. A member of the Conservative Party, she has been Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk since 2010.)

Taxes to be cut: On the other hand, Truss said she "will start cutting taxes from day one," corporate etc. She claims this will lead to economic growth and that will take care of the problems. She assumed that that would put the country on 'autopilot.'

Interest rates: She said she will review the Bank of England's mandate to fix interest rates. But later she tended to make a volte face like she opposed Brexit in 2016. Betraying a lack of vision.

Climate: She is committed to 2050 net zero but said will slash the levies. Will try to find better ways to raise resources.

No concrete plans: She had always evaded a direct answer, saying she "will act immediately" upon taking over, not specifying any concrete plan, to help households get through the winter. She wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that she will get cracking within the first week. There will be immediate action on checking the price rise, rising energy bills and the supplies.

Thatcher: Dressing like Thatcher, wanting to be bold like her but not knowing what to do really. She is the third woman PM after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.

Brexit: She beat a hasty retreat on Brexit to be on BoJo's side.

Surveys like YouGov had projected Truss as the front-runner all through but at the closing hustings Sunak had recovered a lot of lost ground.

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