Liz Truss is likely to become the UK’s next prime minister after a grueling statewide tour, a dozen hustings, and three televised debates when Conservative party members vote on Friday.
The outcome of the summer-long battle between Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and former chancellor Rishi Sunak will be disclosed on Monday before Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally presents his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II the following day.
Voting by the estimated 200,000 Tory members began in early August, a month after Johnson announced his departure, and will end at 5:00 p.m. (1600 GMT).
In polling members, Truss receives overwhelming support over Sunak. However, once the winner returns to 10 Downing Street from visiting the Queen in the Scottish Highlands, their political honeymoon will be over.
The United Kingdom is experiencing its greatest cost-of-living crisis in centuries, with inflation in the double digits as energy costs skyrocket as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to studies, millions of people think they will have to choose between food and heating this winter since their expenses are expected to jump by 80% from October to January.
Truss has promised tax cuts, but they will not assist the poorest.
For weeks, the Tory front-runner has ruled out direct giveaways, and during the last hustings on Wednesday, he went even farther, reiterating former US President George Bush’s vow of no new taxes – which he quickly breached.
Truss, though, committed in Thursday’s issue of The Sun tabloid to “provide prompt relief to ensure individuals do not face unsustainable fuel costs” this winter.
“I genuinely think that in these difficult circumstances, we must be radical,” she continued, foreshadowing her Thatcherite reform program to secure Johnson’s Brexit legacy.
After months of scandal, Tory MPs turned on their Brexit hero Johnson, choosing Sunak over Truss as the more electable leader to lead them until the next general election in January 2025.
However, the party’s rank and file have rallied around Truss’s right-wing ideology, despite the fact that she is a former Liberal Democrat who voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.
“She’s a better politician,” John Curtice, a political science professor at the University of Strathclyde, said to AFP after Truss kept to a clear script over the long, hot summer of campaigning.
“Sunak has displayed some of the attributes that one would expect from a good minister. Miss Truss, on the other hand, has displayed the traits required of a politician “Curtice added.
Regardless of who wins, recent surveys of the general electorate suggest the Conservatives face a serious fight to keep their 12-year hold on office.
As the Conservatives have taken their time appointing a new leader, plagued by infighting despite the greater crises, the Labour party has gained from criticizing Johnson’s “zombie administration.”
The main opposition party currently has a double-digit lead over the Conservatives in opinion surveys, as the economic situation becomes the most gloomy since Margaret Thatcher came to office in 1979.
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