Can Truss lead Britain through the crisis?

After a clear victory over Rishi Sunak in the leadership runoff, Liz Truss took office as British prime minister on Tuesday. In her first address to the nation, she expressed her respect for her predecessor Boris Johnson before announcing her new cabinet members. The press is divided over how much this new beginning will achieve.

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The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

A fresh wind is blowing

With her cabinet and her inaugural speech, the new party chief has shown that she's already rolling up her sleeves, The Daily Telegraph notes approvingly:

“Her manner was brisk and business-like, a harbinger of the way she proposes her Government should operate. A clear-out of Downing Street staff was already in progress last night ... The most remarkable aspect of the Cabinet is its composition, with not one white man occupying any of the major offices of state. ... The Conservatives have elected their third woman leader to lead the most ethnically diverse senior ministerial team in history, belying hoary old Labour caricatures of Tory bigotry and insularity.”

The Independent (GB) /

As if nothing had happened

This is anything but a fresh start, The Independent argues:

“Truss dedicated most of her short speech to praising her predecessor and the various great things he apparently achieved. Outside 10 Downing Street, she did the same again. ... Nothing has changed. What is the point of this new government? They are Johnson loyalists, absolutely all of them. And they are all at their happiest when they're publicly displaying their unswerving loyalty, pretending none of this nasty business ever happened. Until the Conservative Party finds the moral courage to explain, openly, that its last leader was an out-and-out liar, it's not immediately clear what right they have to expect the rest of us to move on.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Disincentive for new Tory voters

Truss could scare away the more left-leaning Conservative voters who Johnson had wooed, political scientist Brett Meyer surmises in Le Monde:

“During her campaign she promised tax cuts to boost economic growth. This central promise helped her win the votes of Conservative Party members. However it stands in stark contrast with the policies of her predecessor Boris Johnson, who focused on increasing state support for the country's weaker regions. Moreover, Truss' strategy is not without its risks. In particular she could repel voters who are culturally to the right but economically to the left. And it was mainly thanks to them that the Tories won a majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons in the 2019 general elections.”

El País (ES) /

A high-risk bet

It's all or nothing now, political analyst Matt Goodwin stresses in El País:

“In the polls, the Conservative Party is heading directly for the abyss. ... It is clear that voters are punishing the governing party for throwing itself into a leadership contest while energy bills and inflation are soaring. ... [Truss] wants to help Britain out of the crisis and turn her party's fortunes around with tax cuts and a return to classic Conservative fiscal policy. ... But according to leading economists her plans will only fuel inflation. Truss hopes that she will win her bet. If she doesn't, both her party and the country will be in serious trouble.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Truss must swim free

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung suspects that Johnson would like to get back into government in the longer term:

“But what other positions are open to a former premier in a monarchy where the representative office of president doesn't exist? Basically the only option open to him is a return to Downing Street after a suitably long 'cooling-off' period. His successor, who in her bid for party leadership still presented herself as unshakably loyal to Johnson, should swim free of him as quickly as possible - in the interests both of her office and her party. A prime minister on call would be handing the Labour Party the 2024 election on a plate.”

The Times (GB) /

PM facing first big test

The new prime minister has no time to celebrate her victory, says The Times:

“Liz Truss will be swiftly judged on how she responds to the squeeze on living standards. The incoming prime minister has promised a plan within a week, and the steep rise in costs should impress upon her the danger of under-reacting. She must be bold, while remaining aware that there are many bad answers to the crisis and no panacea. ... A national emergency cannot be left to chance. Government intervention is needed to help households ... It is Ms Truss's first big test. Her premiership may be defined by how far she meets it.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Brussels will remain an enemy

It is unlikely that the new PM will seek to improve relations with the EU, the Irish Independent comments:

“Faced with the choice between dealing pragmatically with the European Union, and pleasing the Europhobic right of her Conservative Party, that home audience will win again and again. ... And, despite her Labour family background, her early years as a Liberal Democrat activist and her trenchant anti-Brexit campaigning in the 2016 referendum, she is suddenly a hard-liner on the EU-UK divorce terms. That anti-EU shading took her where she wanted to go.”

De Standaard (BE) /

The wrong policies for hard times

De Standaard doubts that Liz Truss is the right choice:

“She turned out to be a hard-line Brexiteer who wants to break with the Northern Ireland Protocol. That would cause a crisis that neither the EU nor the UK need right now. In the case of Russia, she already disgraced herself with her lack of knowledge of the dossiers. And at home, she wants to fight the crisis with big tax cuts, deregulation and a smaller state, although the energy crisis cries out for more regulation, a stronger state and sound public finances.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

The bar is set low

Liz Truss might even be mentioned in the same breath as her role model Margaret Thatcher one day, Hospodářské noviny believes:

“On such occasions some like to write that a relatively unknown, marginal figure can only be a pleasant surprise. So expectations are very low. After all, Truss is a little-known newcomer who has become prime minister through an internal party vote. ... And at a time when one pessimistic economic report after the next is rolling in. But if Truss brings about the first real energy deal and helps people and businesses make it through the difficult months ahead, it could open the door for her to become a true British Premier League leader.”

Delfi (LT) /

A positive signal for the Baltic states

Truss's political positions as foreign secretary give cause for optimism, writes political scientist Linas Kojala in Delfi:

“She supports the tightening of sanctions against the Kremlin and calls on other countries, including the US, to be more consistent. The future prime minister has said repeatedly that 'Putin must lose', while representatives of other Western countries are more ambivalent about this. ... Such priorities send a positive signal to the Baltic states, which Truss counts among the most important and courageous allies in Europe. The expansion of the British presence would strengthen the eastern wing of Nato; more than 1,500 soldiers are already stationed in Estonia.”