The UK Conservative Party has elected Liz Truss its new leader, making her the new Prime Minister. Just over 81,000 of the 67.22 million citizens of the UK voted for her, giving her even less of a mandate than the last two PMs had:
The foreign secretary, who won 81,326 votes (57.4%) of Tory members to the former chancellor’s 60,399 (42.6%), takes over from Boris Johnson, who was ousted by his own MPs earlier this summer.
Britain’s fourth Tory prime minister in six years declared “we will deliver, we will deliver and we will deliver” on the many challenges facing her government, including the state of the NHS.
Significantly, Truss appeared to rule out a snap general election, telling the audience in central London that she would “deliver a great victory for the Conservative party in 2024”.
The Economist wonders how long she'll last:
Her free-market instincts are at odds with the need to intervene to navigate an immediate cost-of-living crisis. Household gas and electricity bills will jump by 80% in October; businesses are seeing even bigger spikes. By January 2025 she must contest a general election in which she will face the judgment of a deeply dissatisfied public. She inherits a country in dismal spirits: 69% of Britons, including 60% of Conservative voters, agree that the country is “in decline”, according to polling by Ipsos for The Economist. And the party she now leads has grown insurrectionary: it has deposed her two immediate predecessors and is unenthused by her. She will bash at the walls like a wasp in a bell jar.
Ms Truss’s remedy for Britain’s economic ills is a Reaganite mixture of deficit-financed tax cuts and regulatory reform. She proposes low-tax zones with relaxed planning laws, and wants to keep the headline corporation-tax rate at 19% to pull in foreign investment.
To her critics, Ms Truss offers only a mimicry of Thatcherism: all the aesthetics, little of the insight. She may have the furs and the aphorisms, they say, but she abandoned her support for planning deregulation, the single most-obvious supply-side reform, as soon as it became clear that Tory activists wouldn’t wear it. Her pledge to scrap all unnecessary eu laws by the end of 2023 may sound reassuringly radical, but it is divorced from the fine-grained work of effective regulation.
Ms Truss is the fourth roll of the dice for a party squinting hard, searching for a simulacrum of the woman who turned Britain around before. The country she now leads may well be looking for something else entirely.
It is interesting, though, that Truss is the third woman to have her finger on Britain's nuclear button, while 39 of the 40* people elected President of the US have been white men. How's that working out for us?
* John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, and Gerald Ford were never elected president.