June 13, 2024

London — Members of Britain’s Conservative Party selected Liz Truss to replace Boris Johnson as the party’s leader on Monday, meaning Truss will take over as the U.K. Prime Minister on Tuesday. The former foreign secretary will officially begin her new job after Johnson visits Queen Elizabeth II to formally resign.

Who is Liz Truss?

Liz Truss will be Britain’s third female prime minister.

A longtime Conservative politician, Truss was the U.K.’s first female Lord Chancellor, the cabinet member in charge of the courts. She has also served as the education minister, the environment minister, justice secretary, and most recently, as the foreign minister under Boris Johnson. She also took a lead role in Britain’s support for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion.

Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss appears on BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg in London
Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss appears on BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show presented by Laura Kuenssberg in London, Britain, September 4, 2022. 

Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout via REUTERS

Despite being less popular with Conservative members of parliament than her rival, she landed the country’s top job by polling better among the Conservative party’s registered members accross Britain.

How is there a new prime minister without an election?

In Britain, prime ministers are not directly elected by the public. General elections work more like congressional elections in the United States: The public votes for local representatives to send to the U.K.’s legislature, the parliament. The leader of the party that wins the most seats in the parliament generally becomes the prime minister.

A series of scandals forced Johnson to announce his resignation in July. His Conservative Party, however, still holds the majority of seats in parliament, so it was up to the roughly 180,000 members of the party to choose a new leader from among its top ranks, and thus a new prime minister. 

Boris Johnson faces calls to immediately step down as prime minister following his resignation announcement


Johnson has continued to serve in the post during the weeks-long internal election process.

A general election, in which the public votes for members of parliament, must take place at least every five years. They can be called early by the party in power, but as it stands, there isn’t another one due to take place until January 2025.

What is Truss faced with as she takes office?

Truss is inheriting a number of major challenges, including rampant inflation at a nearly-40-year high and an expected recession. She vowed to respond with deep tax cuts, aimed at strengthening the economy overall, but which some economists say could make inflation even worse.

The U.K. is also facing an energy crisis, due largely to the war in Ukraine. The price of energy has risen for most households by more than 50% already, and another rise predicted in October could push the increase up to 80%.

Truss has proposed freezing energy prices.

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