تفوّقت تراس على سوناك بسبب وعدها بخفض الضرائب وولائها لجونسون. غيتي

Terrace is not a favorite of her party’s members of parliament

After two months of competition, the British Conservative Party chose Liz Truss as its new leader, later becoming the British Prime Minister. Thus, she becomes the fourth British prime minister in six years, and she is the 15th prime minister during the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II, and the third woman to hold this position.

Her rapid rise to power began in 2010 when she was elected to Parliament. Four years later, she joined the government of former Prime Minister David Cameron as Environment Minister. She then became Minister of Justice and Secretary of the Treasury in Theresa May’s government, and Secretary of Commerce under Johnson’s government.

Truss believes strongly in economic liberalization and has been an ardent supporter of the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. She touted the benefits of leaving the European Union (Brexit), and adopted a hard line against Russia over the war in Ukraine. Her advocacy for economic liberalization and political optimism helped her compete for leadership in 2022. Despite some twists and turns, her tax-cut agenda and loyalty to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave her an edge over her rival, former finance minister Rishi Sunak.

As the new Prime Minister, she faces a number of significant challenges, rising costs of living, deteriorating public services and an independent-minded Scotland. Abroad, it has to deal with the war in Ukraine and troubled relations with the European Union.

Why did Boris resign?

Truss replaced Johnson, who was forced to step down as Conservative Party leader and prime minister last July. And there were mass resignations, with about 60 ministers and political staff, including Health Minister Sajid Javid and Sunak, protesting at Johnson’s mishandling of the scandal of former Deputy Prime Minister Chris Pcherch.

He resigned from that position after being accused of sexual assault in a private club before taking the position. He said he had “drank a lot and embarrassed himself”, but he denied the interests and remained an independent member of parliament. Other allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced, raising questions about what Johnson knew, and when. The British prime minister denied that Johnson was aware of the allegations when he was appointed as deputy prime minister. But it turned out later that this denial was false. Johnson faced criticism for not being immediately suspended by the party, leaving Johnson to face intense pressure from the party. But Johnson’s grip on power was tenuous even before the publishing scandal. A series of scandals showed his lax approach to public life standards. A number of Conservative Party members called for Johnson’s resignation, over the Johnson scandal relating to a party at Government House in defiance of the restrictions of the “Corona” pandemic, which eventually prompted the police to impose a fine on Johnson and his wife. Johnson’s behavior became distracted and untenable. About 41% of conservative parliamentarians voted against him in a vote of no confidence in him at the beginning of last June. Johnson’s perceived lack of direction was a second source of indignation against him by his Conservative party comrades. He can claim that he achieved “Brexit”, but what did his government gain after that? There was a lot of talk about “raising the standard”, but nothing really happened. The problems were exacerbated by the looming cost-of-living crisis and the chaos in 10 Downing Street.

Finally, Johnson is seen as an electoral burden. The Conservatives have been behind Labor in opinion polls since the end of 2019, and they recently lost a by-election to Labor and the Liberal Democratic Party. Conservative MPs, especially in marginal seats, are becoming anxious. The publication case proved fatal for Johnson, as it directly exploited these sources of discontent. Johnson’s supporters claimed he was stabbed in the back by his own party.

Why was there no election?

Choosing Johnson’s successor has always been an issue for the ruling Conservative Party. The United Kingdom is governed by a parliamentary system in which the government is formed by a person who has the confidence of the House of Commons. Practically speaking, this means that it is the head of the party that won the majority of seats in the general elections who forms the government. When a prime minister submits his resignation through Parliament, there is no constitutional need for a general election. Instead, the ruling party chooses a new head of government.

The selection of heads of government by the ruling party is a normal matter. Since 1945, eight governments have been elected in general elections, while nine governments have been formed through the selection of the ruling party in Parliament. Political parties have their own rules on how to choose a new leader. Prior to 1965, Conservative Party leaders emerged by consulting important party figures. From that date until 1998, the selection of new party leaders became by election by Conservative MPs. Thus, they are chosen through a two-stage election process, in which party members elect two candidates, and then all 180,000 Conservative party members make the final choice to elect the party leader.

Eight candidates participated in the first stage of the competition to replace Johnson. After five rounds of voting among Conservative MPs, Sunak made it to the top, with 137 Conservative MPs (38.3%) voting for him, along with Terrace, who came in second place with 113 Conservative MPs (31.6%) voting for him. Prior to trade policy Benny Mordaunt, third, with 105 (29.3%) votes, and next came the party member’s vote, with Sunak and Terrace spending July and August campaigning for support. Terrace managed to beat Sunak, with 57%, while Sunak scored 43%.

What happened?

Terrace’s urgent task was to form a government. She was able to win the party presidency, because she was the choice of the Conservative Party members, not the favourite of the Conservative MPs. So the honeymoon period will be short, especially if the Conservative Party continues to lag behind Labor in the polls. Above all, Truss needs to improve her party’s fortunes in the next general election. Ministers drawn from within the ruling party want mandates from the electorate. Because it strengthens their authority, enabling them to start making a new set of commitments. Terrace has the power to declare general elections. However, given that the Conservative Party’s electoral situation is not reassuring, the parliament elected in 2019 is likely to continue until the end of its constitutional term. And when the voters have the opportunity to issue their opinion on the prime minister, no later than January 2025.

Nicholas Allen, English physician and anthropologist

Truss was able to win the party presidency because it was the choice of Conservative Party members, not the favorite of Conservative MPs. So the honeymoon period will be short, especially if the Conservative Party continues to lag behind Labor in the polls.

As the new Prime Minister, she faces a number of significant challenges, rising costs of living, deteriorating public services, and an independent-minded Scotland.

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