Boris Johnson gave his farewell speech, in London, then flew up to Balmoral Castle, Scotland, yesterday morning, to tender his resignation to the Queen as her prime minister (PM).
He was followed, soon after, by Liz Truss, who was invited, by the Queen, to become PM and to form a new government.
Those formalities done, the new PM got down to business, fast. She made her firm public speech, as PM, on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street.
She paid due reverence to her predecessor, whom she called “consequential”. She focused on freedom and making Britain “an aspiration nation”, with 3 priorities: working again-based on tax cuts, tackling energy costs, and putting the health service on a firm footing.
She said: “I am confident that together we can ride out the storm” and vowed to build a “modern, brilliant Britain”.
She then went about getting rid of opponents in the former Cabinet and adding loyalists and friends to her first Cabinet. Not everyone was happy, with one out-going minister’s wife calling the new PM “an imbecile”; the minister concerned said he may leave representative politics over this seeming lack of meritocratic action:
Her picks are unique: none of the major ministerial posts are held by a white man-a national first. The general impression is that her picks are also heavily tilted towards the political right wing. What that will really mean is not yet clear, but it suggests a wave of ‘free market’ economics and tighter policies on immigration, amongst other things.
In passing, Johnson’s teased that he’s gone now, but may return. His parting words were fact-checked by the BBC, and true to form, he was economical with the truth:
Later, today, Truss will face her first prime minister’s question time in the Houses of Parliament. Early on, it’s clear that her oral delivery is not on a par with her predecessor–“wooden” is her own assessment. She may find she’s also no real foe to the leader of the opposition, Sir Kier Starmer. But, that is a quality that can be reshaped, as shown by one of her predecessors, Lady Thatcher, whose spirit Truss seems to want to channel.
Truss has a reputation as a major shape-shifter, eg from ‘Remainer’ to ‘Brexiteer’. Whether this chameleon-like characteristic continues without damaging her politically, it will be revealing. She has also to sell her brand to the nation, having been elected by a tiny minority of the nation (160,000 Party members).