Liz Truss as prime minister: Will it be the most right-wing government for a century? - Ian Swanson
So Boris Johnson is finally out. Replaced as Conservative leader, only the formality of a visit to Balmoral remains before his time as prime minister is at an end.
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And now Liz Truss will take over. She's not the new prime minister voters would have chosen, nor even Tory MPs. It is Tory party members who have elected her because her policy proposals chime with their notably right-wing outlook.
But she could be in for a rude awakening when she is forced to confront the gap between campaign rhetoric and cold reality.
It feels like Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have spent the last seven weeks playing fantasy manifestos while Johnson went on holiday and the country sank deeper and deeper into the cost of living crisis.
Rather than address the real issues currently causing millions of people huge concern – like how they are going to pay their energy bills and put food on the table – Liz Truss has chosen to focus above all else on tax cuts, which will hand more money to the rich and do little or nothing to help the worst-off.
Many of the other policies she put forward during the campaign look disturbingly like rash commitments made to please Tory diehards rather than rational choices for practical government.
She plans to suspend green levies, rejects a windfall tax, and says she will tackle "wokery", expand the abhorrent Rwanda scheme for refugees, allow fracking, end the ban on new grammar schools south of the border, potentially scrap speed limits on motorways, ban "essential workers" from going on strike and introduce league tables for police forces, as well as increasing defence spending and aiming for a smaller state,
She has also branded Nicola Sturgeon “an attention seeker” and said she should be ignored; and claimed “the jury is out” on whether French president Emmanuel Macron is friend or foe.
Commentators have noted that Liz Truss is prone to gaffes. She had to do a U-turn on her plan to reduce public sector salaries in the regions after northern English MPs complained it would undermine levelling-up.
And she is said to speak and act impulsively. The promise to look at scrapping speed limits came in response to a random question at the final internal party hustings. And at an early stage in the war in Ukraine, she gave an interview as Foreign Secretary in which she appeared to encourage British volunteers to go and join the conflict – a position quickly contradicted by Downing Street.
At a time of economic crisis, Britain is about to get what some pundits have described as the most right-wing government for a century and there have already been predictions of civil unrest.
For Labour the good news is that when it comes to the next general election it should be easier for Keir Starmer to defeat Truss than the more polished and plausible Sunak.
The bad news is that day could still be some time off. It must be tempting as a new prime minister to call a snap election and secure your own mandate. But Liz Truss can read the polls like anyone else.
And as Professor Sir John Curtice has said, if you've just climbed to the top of the greasy pole you don't want to throw it all away.