Today is the day. Britain will get a new prime minister and in all likelihood it will be Liz Truss.
So what will happen and when? The results of the Conservative Party leadership contest will be announced at around 12.30pm.
Boris Johnson, who is expected to give his farewell speech on the steps of Downing Street this morning, will travel to Balmoral to tender his resignation to the Queen. The new prime minister will go to Scotland tomorrow to meet the Queen and be formally asked to form a government.
If Truss wins, she will then begin appointing her cabinet. Kwasi Kwarteng, Truss’ close ally and a fellow low-tax Tory, is tipped to become chancellor. Suella Braverman is expected to become home secretary, James Cleverly foreign secretary and Therese Coffey health secretary. The new team will meet for the first time later this week.
During the campaign, Truss pledged an emergency budget within a month that would include £30bn of tax cuts, including a reversal of the National Insurance (NI) rise which was intended to fund health and social care and help clear NHS Covid backlogs.
Those hoping that Truss’s pledge to reduce taxes was merely a strategy to win favour with Conservative Party members would have been disappointed yesterday. When challenged by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on how the NI cut would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest by around £2,000 compared to providing little for the poorest, Truss simply replied that she believed “it is fair”.
Little is known about her plan for the most pressing issue facing the country: energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis. In yesterday’s BBC interview with Kuenssberg she said she would “act immediately” on energy bills with a plan expected within a week. Truss offered no further detail but did not deny reports in the Sunday Times that her team is planning a £100bn bailout, with much of the cash to be added to government borrowing. This would directly contradict her previous claim there would be no more “handouts”.
Reports in the Times this morning also suggest Truss is preparing to freeze the energy price cap and reimburse suppliers. The Labour Party’s plan is to freeze the cap but pay for it with a backdated windfall tax.
Truss’ first speech will be revealing. Will she reach out to the “just about managing” as Theresa May did when she delivered her speech about Britain’s “burning injustices”? Or will Truss opt for Johnson’s boosterism or David Cameron’s “we are all in this together” approach?
Truss signalled on Sunday that she will act but “not all those decisions will be popular”, suggesting she will stick to the culture wars rhetoric and free market ideology of her campaign. Given the volatility and cuts to public services her economic programme could entail, she will need to strike a very different tone indeed.
With Keir Starmer’s Labour on an election footing, politicos will also be listening closely for any indication as to whether the new prime minister could opt for a snap election. The Daily Express reported on Saturday that Truss was considering calling a general election in October 2023.
[See also: What could Liz Truss’s cabinet look like?]