In Queen’s Last Official Act, Appointing PM, A Departure From Tradition

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Queen Elizabeth was shaking hands with Liz Truss two days ago.

London:

Just two days before her death, Queen Elizabeth II had appointed Liz Truss as Britain’s new Prime Minister after the resignation of Boris Johnson.

Former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, 47, was seen in an official photograph shaking hands with the monarch to accept her offer to form a new government and become the 15th Prime Minister of her 70-year reign.

The symbolic ceremony took place at the sovereign’s remote Balmoral retreat in the Scottish Highlands, as the queen, 96, was deemed unfit to return to London due to ill health.

“The queen received in audience the right honourable Elizabeth Truss MP today and requested her to form a new administration,” Buckingham Palace had said in a statement on Monday.

“Ms Truss accepted Her Majesty’s offer and kissed hands upon her appointment as Prime Minister.”

The last time the handover of power took place at Balmoral was in 1885, when queen Victoria was on the throne.

Normally, the outgoing and incoming Prime Minister meet the queen in quick succession at Buckingham Palace in central London.

It has only been held once outside London since 1952, when Winston Churchill met the new queen at Heathrow Airport after the death of her father, king George VI.

Liz Truss was announced winner of an internal vote of Conservative Party members on Monday after a gruelling contest that began in July.

To-do list

Liz Truss faces a daunting to-do list, with the UK facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with double-digit inflation and sky-rocketing gas and electricity bills.

Truss, who touts herself as a free-market liberal, has promised tax cuts to stimulate growth, despite warnings that greater borrowing could make inflation worse.

British media reported on Tuesday that she would freeze energy bills for hard-pressed households and business which could cost some 100 billion pounds.

The contrast to her beaten leadership rival Rishi Sunak’s more cautious approach has opened another rift in the Conservative Party that was already divided by Boris Johnson’s departure.

Recent opinion polls suggest a sizeable chunk of the British public have no faith in her ability to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

A new poll by YouGov said only 14 percent expect Truss — the fourth Tory prime minister in six years — to do a better job than Boris Johnson.

Johnson, whose tenure was dominated by Brexit and Covid and cut short by a succession of scandals, earlier promised Truss his unswerving support as he made a farewell speech in Downing Street.

“I will be supporting Liz Truss and the new government every step of the way,” he said.

He urged the Tories to put aside their ideological differences which have seen the party fight like cats and dogs over how best to tackle the energy crisis.

“If Dilyn (his dog) and Larry (the Downing Street cat) can put behind them their occasional difficulties then so can the Conservative party,” he added.

In her acceptance speech on Monday, Liz Truss had ruled out seeking her own mandate from the public at an early general election, vowing victory in 2024.

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