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UK prime minister election sees Liz Truss victory over rival Rishi Sunak

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Sep 5, 2022

Liz Truss will become the United Kingdom’s 56th prime minister after narrowly defeating Rishi Sunak.

Britain’s Conservative Party has chosen Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as the party’s new leader, putting her in line to be confirmed as prime minister. 

The announcement came on Monday in London after a leadership election in which only the 180,000 dues-paying members of the Conservative Party were allowed to vote. Truss beat rival Rishi Sunak, the government’s former Treasury chief, by promising to increase defense spending and cut taxes, while refusing to say how she would address the cost-of-living crisis.

Truss received 81,326 votes to Sunak’s 60,399, according to The Associated Press. 

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The two-month leadership contest left Britain with a power vacuum at a time when consumers, workers and businesses were demanding government action to mitigate the impact of soaring food and energy prices. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has had no authority to make major policy decisions since July 7, when he announced his intention to resign.

Johnson was forced to resign after a series of ethics scandals that peaked in July when dozens of cabinet ministers and lower-level officials resigned over his handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by a senior member of his government.

Under Britain’s parliamentary system of government, the center-right Conservative Party was allowed to hold an internal election to select a new party leader and prime minister, without going to the wider electorate. A new general election isn’t required until December 2024.

According to the Times of London, Truss won with 57% of the vote – a slightly narrower margin than what early polls had suggested. Turnout was 82.6%. 

In remarks following her victory, she paid tribute to “my friend” Johnson, saying: “You were admired from Kyiv to Carlisle.” 

“We will deliver a great victory for the conservatives in 2024,” Truss added, according to the Times. 

Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to formally name Truss as Britain’s prime minister on Tuesday. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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