Alexander Ivakhnik, political analyst
Liz Truss has become the new British Prime Minister. In our country, she was impressed by the belligerent statements as head of the Foreign Ministry regarding Russian actions in Ukraine and the poor knowledge of Russian geography shown in Moscow. In the European Union, she is perceived as an inflexible, uncompromising politician, which is worrisome due to the unresolved post-Brexit issues, especially in Northern Ireland. But even in Britain itself, the election of no leader of the Conservative Party, perhaps, was not met with such skepticism. Although Truss managed to win over rival Rishi Sunak in the Tory rank-and-file campaign thanks to a major promise of massive tax cuts, the resulting gap between them (57% to 43%) was much smaller than predicted.
As for the British in general, among them Liz Truss, to put it mildly, is not popular. A snap poll by YouGov on Monday found that 55% of residents are disappointed with Truss becoming the new prime minister (including 33% who are very disappointed), while only 22% are satisfied. Only 12% of Britons expect Truss to be a 'good or great leader', while 52% think she will be a 'bad or terrible leader'. Only 14% believe that she will run the country better than Boris Johnson.
Truss, 47, entered politics early, but her political path has been quite tortuous. As a girl, her left-wing parents took her to violent demonstrations against Margaret Thatcher's policies. In her youth Truss joined the centrist Liberal Democrats and, while studying at Oxford, led the party's student organization and even publicly advocated the abolition of the monarchy (I wonder if she recalled this during an audience with the Queen?). After Oxford, she worked as an accountant in large companies and at the same time was imbued with the ideas of the conservatives. On the third try, Truss was elected to parliament in 2010. Ever since then, she has been known as an adherent of the free market and the "small state". And Thatcher became a role model for her not only in behavior (decisiveness and uncompromisingness), but also in clothes. Having first entered the cabinet back in 2014, Truss has accumulated a diverse range of government experience, but has not been noted for great success. Curiously, before the 2016 referendum, she advocated maintaining EU membership, but after Brexit she became a zealous supporter of it. She received her last post - Minister of Foreign Affairs - a year ago. Although even then there were rumors about her leadership ambitions, outwardly she remained loyal to Johnson to the end.
Despite Truss's widespread distrust in British society and political circles, her Tory allies maintain that she is not a dogmatist, but a practical politician with a good political sense. Also, no one denies that she is characterized by energy, purposefulness and diligence. However, hard times await the new prime minister. Britain is experiencing the highest inflation in 40 years, and its economy is sliding into recession. Living standards have declined over the past year, primarily due to a sharp rise in energy bills. There is a wave of strikes across the country, especially among transport workers. A month ago, Truss declared that the key to solving all problems is in tax cuts, which will launch economic growth, and opposed financial "handouts" to the population. Now reality forces her to adjust her position. It is expected that one of these days it will announce plans for a general freeze in energy prices through borrowing in the financial market. This will ease the situation for households and companies, but is likely to further spur inflation. Serious problems await Trass on the political front as well. Uniting the ruling party after bitter internal struggles in recent months will be difficult. In the Tory parliamentary faction, the new prime minister has many ill-wishers who will take advantage of her inevitable mistakes and failures. And there are only two years left before the new general elections.