Liz Truss pledges to rescue Britain 'from the storm' in first speech as prime minister

New polling from YouGov gave the opposition Labour party a 15-point lead on Tuesday

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Liz Truss assumed the role of the UK's prime minister on Tuesday, addressing the public in a first address in Downing Street and looking to restore a sense of purpose to a country grappling with the international energy crisis.

“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,” she declared.

The new government is expected to restore the Middle East and North Africa position in the Foreign Office, announcing a new minister to cover the region in the coming days. Backing to restore the post came from the likely new foreign secretary, who held the regional job before it was divided between three ministers.

Diplomats from the region have been unhappy with the new set up, believing that it meant Britain’s attention was not focused on key regional issues.

Ms Truss made her first address to the nation as prime minister after she flew from Scotland following an audience with the Queen at Balmoral, which saw her take over from Boris Johnson as prime minister.

“Now is the time to tackle the issues that are holding Britain back,” she went on. “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 need to reduce the burden on families and help people get on in life. I know that we have what it takes to tackle those challenges.

“I will take action this day and action every day to make it happen. I will take action this week to deal with energy bills and to secure our future energy supply.”

She added: “As prime minister, I will pursue three early priorities. Firstly, I will get Britain working again. I have a bold plan to grow the economy through tax cuts and reform.

“I look forward to deepening the special relationship between our countries and working in close co-operation on global challenges, including continued support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression.”
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“I will cut taxes to reward hard work and boost business-led growth and investment. I will drive reform in my mission to get the United Kingdom working, building and growing.

“We will get spades in the ground to make sure people are not facing unaffordable energy bills and we will also make sure that we are building hospitals, schools, roads and broadband”.

The other priorities were the war in Ukraine and problems facing the National Health Service.

Cabinet changes

In a first, the cabinet is not likely to include any white men in the great offices of state, with the appointments of Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor, Suella Braverman as home secretary and James Cleverly as foreign secretary.

The first order of business is to sign off on details of an energy bailout plan. Her “do what it takes” plan is expected to cost more than £100 billion ($114.9bn). The details emerging were based on the current £1,971 energy price cap plus the £400 universal handout announced under Mr Johnson’s government months ago.

Help is also expected for business customers struggling with soaring bills which are not covered by the existing energy price cap.

Expectations of a build-up of debt pushed up benchmark borrowing costs to their highest level in more than 11 years.

In his farewell speech before leaving office, Mr Johnson called for politics to be put aside and his successor given a chance. “I know that Liz Truss and this compassionate Conservative government will do everything we can to get people through this crisis and this country will endure it and we will win,” he said.

Ms Truss hopes that a low-tax economy will help to improve the government’s fortunes. “What I am about is about growing the economy and growing the economy benefits for everybody,” she declared during the campaign.

Reaction to the new prime minister's appointment

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he has invited Liz Truss to Ukraine after becoming the first foreign leader to hold a call with the new prime minister.

New polling from YouGov gave the opposition Labour party a 15 point lead on Tuesday, with the Conservatives on 28 per cent (down 3 points from August 23-24) and Labour on 43 per cent (up 4 points).

Updated: September 07, 2022, 12:20 PM