What does new UK PM Liz Truss means for India?
Mary Elizabeth Truss or Liz Truss has assumed office as the fourth Conservative Prime Minister of the UK in six years. She beat the nearest contenderIndian origin Rishi Sunak in a closely contested party leadership election, after the Party MPs had voted to remove past incumbent Boris Johnson.
Truss carries the same name as the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth. She has come a long way from being an opponent of the monarchy to becoming a Conservative. She declared that she ‘fought the election as a Conservative and will remain a Conservative.’
The Conservative party which has been in power for a continuous period of 12 years has seen austerity and little economic success. Liz Truss has taken over the party leadership at a time when it is widely predicted that over the coming months Britain will enter, along with much of the rest of the world, an economic and social crisis on a scale not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Her economic agenda-lower taxes and much higher public spending is seen as populist and has not found favor with analysts. The pound sterling collapsed in the international market with the announcement of her as the new PM.
While it is true that Rishi Sunak lost the race to Liz Truss, it is also a fact that of the top 8 contenders for the post, only 2 were whites, rest all were from diverse backgrounds. This is considered spectacular as it is the opposition labor Party that has more backing of the ethnic population.
All those MPs who were close to Rishi are expected to occupy the backbenches as the cabinet seats will be filled by the favorites, as is always the case. A combination of lingering loyalty towards outgoing PM Johnson seen as having been betrayed by former close ally Rishi Sunak and Truss’ pledge to cut taxes against Sunak’s tax hike plans, are among the key factors behind Sunak’s failure to clinch the race.
While the new PM will be preoccupied with internal and domestic issues including those related to inflation, high energy costs, unemployment etc. The external portfolio will be no less important. Apart from Ukraine which was prioritized by Johnson as also by Truss as the Foreign Secretary, relations with USA, China, the emerging powers including India, the growing importance of the Indo-pacific will together continue to pose majorforeign policy challenges. To top it all, Truss in her campaign speeches made radical references to shifts of UK positions on Northern Ireland and the possibility of shifting the Embassy to Jerusalem.