The United Kingdom has a new Prime Minister today, with Liz Truss winning majority support of her Conservative party members to replace Boris Johnson after his tumultuous three-year leadership. But the 47-year-old former Foreign Secretary enters 10 Downing Street with a long list of issues that must be dealt with quickly and effectively.
First off, Britons are facing an unprecedented energy crisis, where household bill for electricity and gas will triple from their current levels over the winter months.
Utility companies, businesses, consumer advocates and economic analysts are united in warning that unless swift and decisive action is taken within days of Truss taking office, two households out of three will likely be unable to heat their homes properly or keep their lights on.
And while that sector of the economy is regulated by pricing caps that are more than doubling every three months, there is no such price mechanism in place for Britain’s businesses, shops and workplaces. That needs the PM’s attention and urgent action.
Throughout her leadership campaign, her team have said they are working on a plan and, with Truss now installed at 10 Downing Street, the fullness of those plans are eagerly awaited.
Truss, the third woman in the UK’s history to be PM, also faces the task of rebuilding and reforming the National Health Service.
Already under strain before the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS is now bursting at the seams, with emergency waiting times often exceeding 12 hours, months’ long waiting lists for routine operations and procedures, with many staff burnt out from the pandemic and working in stressful, overcrowded and underfunded conditions.
There are also some early warning signs that the UK’s economy may enter recession in the coming quarters, and inflation too is at levels not seen in more than four decades. Labour unrest too looms, with almost many sectors of the economy facing disruption from industrial action as workers seek pay rises to match the higher cost of living.
The new prime minister also needs quickly to establish confidence in her government. Truss must find a way forward in dealing with the European Union over customs issues arising from the Brexit agreement in Northern Ireland, avoid a full-blown trade war at a time when the UK economy is facing strong headwinds.
From today onwards, the full reality of the job she has won now truly emerges. She deserves our best wishes.