New British Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses nation, vows to ‘ride out the storm’

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Sept. 6 (UPI) — Liz Truss addressed Britons for the first time as prime minister Tuesday, promising to rebuild the economy and help Britain “ride out the storm” of economic and energy uncertainty.

Truss, 47, delivered the short speech under cloudy skies outside 10 Downing Street in London.

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“We shouldn’t be daunted by the challenges we face, as strong as the storm may be. I know that the British people are stronger,” Truss said.

During the 4-minute speech, Truss outlined her first priorities as prime minister with a focus on the economy, the energy crisis and healthcare access.

Truss promised to spur economic growth with tax cuts and business-led reform to get the “United Kingdom working, building and growing.”

“Our country was built by people who can get things done. We have huge reserves of talent, of energy, of determination. I am confident that together we can ride out the storm,” Truss said. “We can rebuild our economy and we can become the modern, brilliant Britain I know we can be.

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“Now is the time to tackle the issues that are holding Britain back,” she said. “We need to build roads, homes and broadband faster. We need more investment and great jobs in every town and city across our country.

“We will transform Britain into an aspiration nation with high-paying jobs, safe streets and where everyone everywhere has the opportunities they deserve,” she said. “I will take action this day and action everyday to make it happen.”

Truss also promised to deal “hands on with the energy crisis caused by Putin’s war,” promising to take action this week to help with energy bills and to secure Britain’s energy supply.

“United with our allies, we will stand up for freedom and democracy around the world, recognizing that we can’t have security at home without having security abroad,” Truss said.

She also vowed to address the crisis in the National Health Service and to help people get doctor’s appointments.

She also paid tribute to her predecessor.

Boris Johnson delivered Brexit, the COVID vaccine and stood up to Russian aggression. History will see him as a hugely consequential prime minister,” she said.

Truss, a former accountant and 12-year veteran of Parliament, took over as prime minister after Johnson’s farewell speech and a meeting with Queen Elizabeth at her castle in Scotland.

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Truss was chosen Monday by the ruling Conservative Party as its leader over the other candidate, Rishi Sunak.

The shift to Truss was made official when she met with the queen. As dictated by tradition, Johnson had met with the queen first.

Truss is Britain’s 15th prime minister and only the third woman to hold the post, after Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and Theresa May immediately before Johnson.

Johnson and Truss departed London in separate planes before dawn Tuesday, and Truss’s plane landed in Aberdeenshire after circling the airport for 20 minutes due to heavy fog.

Truss takes the helm at a time of one of Britain’s worst economic crises in recent history, which is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war in Ukraine and pressure on markets worldwide.

Inflation rose to an all-time high of more than 9% during the month of August across much of Europe, while Britain’s central bank raised interest rates to curtail rising energy costs sparked largely by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Later this week, Truss is expected to introduce a large package of energy reforms in “a major moment” for the country, said treasury chief Simon Clarke. The plan may include a strategy to freeze heating and cooling bills after Russia cut off its main gas pipeline to Europe last week.

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Truss’ rise came after a fierce two-month battle with a wide field of 11 Conservative Party candidates to succeed Johnson, who announced in July that he would step down following numerous public scandals, most notably “partygate.”

She is popular among party Conservatives for her tough stance on cutting taxes and reining in government bureaucracy, but it’s not clear yet how that will play with the mainstream public, whose wages are dissipating amid a coming recession.

Truss, a key player in Johnson’s Cabinet, was scheduled to choose her Cabinet leaders later.

As a firebrand for the Liberal Democratic Party at Oxford University in the early 1990s, she once called for the monarchy to be abolished, but has since evolved her political stance with comparisons to Thatcher.

In his farewell address, Johnson vowed to give Truss his “most fervent support.”

“It’s time for us to get behind Liz Truss and her team and her program and deliver for the people of this country,” he said. “Because that is what the people of this country want. That’s what they need. And that’s what they deserve.”

Johnson, who took over for May in 2019, was accompanied on Tuesday by his wife, Carrie, when he arrived at Balmoral. He hasn’t yet given any indication of what the future holds for him.

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