International News Editor
To the energy, climate change, migrant, and debt crises currently facing UK citizens, they can add their newest prime minister, Liz Truss to the list of disasters they must face. On September 5, the governing Conservative party chose Liz Truss to be their new party leader and, by extension, the prime minister, according to NPR. While she may be a welcome change from her scandal-ridden predecessor, Boris Johnson, Truss still champions the same policies that have hurt the UK and its relations with other countries over the past decade of conservative rule.
All Truss needed to become prime minister was around 81,000 votes out of the nearly 142,000 Conservative Party members eligible to vote in the leadership elections, according to NPR. She beat her opponent Rishi Sunak by one of the lowest margins for a party leader and comes into office with essentially no democratic mandate. A YouGov poll found that only a pitiful 12 percent of Britons believe that Truss will do a great job. The silver lining for Truss, however, is that she has a laughably low standard to meet. All she needs to do is perform slightly better than her predecessor and the media will praise her as a courageous and decisive leader, despite her record showing nothing of the sort.
Truss began her career as a Liberal Democrat who opposed Thatcher’s policies and was a supporter of remaining in the EU, though she now portrays herself as a champion of Brexit, according to BBC News. An opportunist in every sense of the word, she has spent her career climbing the ladder and following the political winds, a strategy that has admittedly helped her so far. The fact remains that while Truss’s strong Thatcherite tendencies may be enough to win over the core Tory base, voters in many key districts in the industrial North, who were devastated by her policies and voted Conservative only after Johnson demonstrated more support for Churchill’s policies than Thatcher’s, may not find her appealing, according to The Associated Press.
Many hoped Truss would be an improvement from Johnson, but her first week alone shows that her policies and ideology are woefully ineffectual in the face of a pivotal moment for the UK. According to The Guardian, immediately after her campaign, during which she performed her dollar-store Margaret Thatcher routine, she announced a £150 billion plan to tackle the energy crisis that would involve significant government assistance, or “handouts” as she pejoratively described them on the campaign trail. While significant government assistance is needed, her plans are half baked at best, falling dramatically short of what many small businesses require in order to survive the surge in energy prices that will only worsen as winter arrives, according to BBC News. Her plan involves no new taxes, a core campaign promise, and relies heavily on borrowing. This has led major institutions like Deutsche Bank to warn of an impending debt crisis in the UK, reports Reuters. The Labor party leader, Keir Starmer, exposed how fragile her proposal is because of her refusal to implement a windfall tax. Without a windfall tax, which would raise taxes on the energy sector that has profited heavily off the energy crisis, Truss is essentially consigning the country to borrowing more than it can handle, according to The Guardian.
On foreign policy, Truss is one of the most hawkish Conservative leaders in decades, according to VOA News. She has pledged to increase defense spending from two to three percent of GDP, or around £180 billion, and has taken many hardline stances against Russia and China. She has pledged to continue sending arms to Ukraine to keep the war going and, similar to Johnson, opposes making peace with Russia, even at the expense of Ukrainian lives, according to Responsible Statecraft. Truss also wants to scrap the Northern Ireland protocol negotiated by her predecessor as a part of the Brexit deal that prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland, which could reignite violence along the border with the Republic of Ireland, reports Reuters. When it comes to refugees, Sky News explains that Truss supports the absurd policy of sending migrants and asylum seekers to Rwanda to deter people from crossing the English Channel. This cruel and expensive policy was shut down by the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year because it was deemed too inhumane, according to Foreign Policy.
With all of the backward policies of Boris Johnson and none of the charm, Truss will likely be just one more disaster in a long list plaguing the UK. The country may be looking for its fifth prime minister since 2016 when she and her embarrassment of a party inevitably fail.