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LONDON — Liz Truss will be the next prime minister of the U.K. after comfortably seeing off rival Rishi Sunak in the race to lead the governing Conservative Party.
Truss, currently the U.K’s foreign secretary, won 81,326 votes (57.4 percent) from Conservative members versus 60,399 (42.6 percent) for Sunak, the former chancellor who quit over his differences with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Truss will fly to Balmoral, the queen’s Highland estate, on Tuesday to be officially sworn in as prime minister before choosing her new Cabinet.
Speaking after the announcement, Truss pledged to deliver on a raft of promises she made during the campaign and take the Conservatives — currently lagging in the polls — to victory at the next election. “I know our beliefs resonate with British people,” she said, adding: “I campaigned as a Conservative and will govern as a Conservative.”
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The incoming prime minister is expected to announce a bailout package within a week of taking office in a bid to help households and businesses trying to cope with soaring inflation and rising energy bills.
Truss faced criticism during the campaign for her refusal to spell out a detailed plan to tackle the cost of living, but won over Tory members early on in the race with a promise to cut taxes. She has promised to cancel a planned hike in corporation tax, reverse a rise in the national insurance personal tax, and unveil an emergency budget soon after taking office.
Sunak’s campaign, which easily secured the support of Conservative MPs in the contest’s first round only to falter in the wider vote of rank and file Tory members, had argued that Truss’s economic proposals will only increase inflation. Truss said Sunak had led a “hard fought campaign,” and insisted the summer-long contest to find a new Tory leader had “shown the depth and breadth of talent in our Conservative Party.”
She used her victory speech to talk up her “bold plan” to cut taxes and address rising energy prices, and vowed: “We will deliver, we will deliver, we will deliver.”
The leadership contest was triggered by Johnson’s resignation in July after months of anger from party colleagues over his handling of a series of scandals, including sexual misconduct claims against a senior minister and political ally.
Johnson remains prime minister until the formal handover on Tuesday. He will also attend Balmoral after making his final address outside Downing Street.
Paying tribute to her “friend” Johnson in her acceptance speech, Truss said: “Boris, you got Brexit done. You crushed [former Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn. You rolled out the vaccine and you stood up to Vladimir Putin. You are admired from Kyiv to Carlisle.”