Downing Street rehomes new family as grim clouds gather overhead

Dodging a downpour, British Prime Minister Liz Truss arrived to deliver a confident speech

UK Prime Minister Liz Truss and husband Hugh O'Leary pose outside No. 10. Getty Images
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A family of four moved out of a central London apartment on Tuesday to be replaced by another family of four in a seamless house move that temporarily hid the ruptures of British politics.

The UK's new Prime Minister Liz Truss arrived in Downing Street with storm clouds rumbling between brief spells of sunshine on a clammy September day.

The portends were easy to draw on, but will largely be forgotten in the coming days as Britain’s third female prime minister shapes her government, with 150 appointments from her Chancellor of the Exchequer to the most junior parliamentary private secretary.

Confident and assertive, Ms Truss strode to No. 10’s lacquered black door to speak in front of party grandees and a galaxy of journalists from every corner of the globe.

With an awkward 24-hour wait from being elected Conservative Party leader to becoming prime minister following an audience with Queen Elizabeth II in Balmoral Castle she was finally able to assume office.

The 47-year-old had fulfilled her long driven political ambition to assume the highest office and on Tuesday evening was at the pinnacle of her power with the ability to select her lieutenants.

Vacant flat

Mr Johnson had vacated the Downing Street flat with his wife and two young children shortly after 8am. Eight hours later Ms Truss landed at RAF Northolt from Scotland before being driven at speed through London.

But her drivers eased off as rain gushed down on the assembly outside her new home that she will share with her husband Hugh O’Leary and daughters Frances, 16, and Liberty, 13.

It took more than an hour for her to arrive in a rain-drenched Downing Street where cabinet hopefuls waited, enduring a heavy downpour before the arrival, deliberately delayed to ensure Ms Truss would miss the shower.

With bedraggled hair and in rain-soaked suits and dresses, the MPs, including Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Alok Sharma managed to raise a hearty cheer as the prime minister stepped out of her armoured Range Rover and confidently strode to the government podium, managing not to slip on the cascade of brown leaves.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis, centre left, Nadhim Zahawi, centre, and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, centre right, clap after a speech by the new Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Gathering Storm

With a nod to the skies, she asserted that Britain would “ride out the storm”, vowing she would get the country “working, building and growing”.

On Thursday she will make the substantial announcement of an estimated £100 billion package to help households and businesses survive “unacceptable energy bills”.

“The UK has huge reserves of talent and imagination,” she said. “We can ride out the storm and become the brilliant Britain she knows we can be.”

Ms Truss has been a cabinet minister since 2014 and must have been driven up the short street on many occasions wondering how it would feel to do so as the boss.

Jobs await

The gaggle of MPs were clearly anxious to attract their new leader’s attention, knowing that that the top three slots were already taken, along with Mr Wallace remaining in post.

The son of Ghanaian migrants, Kwasi Kwarteng, was the first of Ms Truss's appointment as her chancellor, arriving in another downpour.

Given the monetary challenges Britain faces with astronomical energy costs, it is fortunate that the pair are good friends, indeed they will continue to share the same street as they did living just metres apart in Greenwich, in south-east London.

James Cleverly, the former Middle East minister widely respected in the region, was made foreign secretary. He will tackle Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a tricky relationship with China. In the Gulf region he will seek to cement the free-trade agreement with the GCC and help in negotiations with Iran over resurrecting the nuclear agreement. He will be helped by the likely reinstatement of the Middle East minister post that was abolished in early February, much to the dismay of many in the region.

Suella Braverman, the daughter of Kenyan migrants, made up the third well-trailed appointment to become home secretary. Therein will lie quite a challenge, with her main high-profile task being to stop illegal immigrants crossing the English Channel and firmly install their deportation to Rwanda.

As a dripping dusk descended on Downing Street the shape of Ms Truss’ government unfolded.

But it seemed that the euphoria on appointment to high office will dissipate as autumn draws in, the first hint of frost appears and a chill descends over the UK.

Updated: September 06, 2022, 8:28 PM
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