Star comment: Liz Truss needs to rise to multitude of challenges

We need clarity, vision and calm thinking from new PM.

Liz Truss becomes Prime Minister on Tuesday
Liz Truss becomes Prime Minister on Tuesday

Our new Prime Minister is Liz Truss. The great survivor of recent Cabinets has made it to the top on a ticket of not raising taxes and promoting economic growth.

During a leadership contest that was too long and in which just 0.3 per cent of the population participated, the woman who was the third choice of MPs won through.

The challenges that Ms Truss will face are numerable, and there will be no honeymoon period for our new PM. The cost of living crisis is already closing businesses and putting tenants in a position where their heating bills are more than their rent.

Germany, a nation affected far more seriously than the UK given its dependence on Russian gas, has announced a multi-billion euro package of support.

Despite Ms Truss’s insistence that there will be no handouts, the nation needs her to act in the way the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak acted with furlough, lest people become destitute.

Mrs Truss must tackle the big utility companies making huge profits while energy prices spiral. In the UK, energy prices have risen by 200 per cent, in France, the figure is four per cent.

While Mrs Truss is very much the continuity candidate, there is one area in which she must prove herself different to the chastened Boris Johnson. She must be truthful, she must have a good grasp of ethics, she must have credibility.

We need clarity, vision and calm thinking given the challenges we face, not to mention the need to rebuild confidence in Westminster after a period where its integrity has been repeatedly questioned.

She will have Mr Johnson to contend with, of course. The man who has brought down three prime ministers – David Cameron, Theresa May and himself – is clearly not yet done with frontline politics and, like Donald Trump. it seems, hankers for a return to the big time.

Mrs Truss needs to bring her party together, by including moderates as well as right-wingers in her cabinet. She has Russia to contend with, an expansionist China, plus the costs of Covid to address.

Then there are our ailing public services, not least the NHS, where too few doctors and too few nurses mean we face an awful winter in our hospitals and surgeries.

The first few days in office could be telling for Ms Truss. If she can steer the country through the short-term pressures we face, confidence will begin to return; if not the political instability that could be so damaging in the present climate is likely to get worse.

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