Sep 6, 2022 - World

U.K. Prime Minister Truss' cabinet is first without white men in top jobs

British Prime Minister Liz Truss in her first remarks from Downing Street. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss began to unveil her cabinet on Tuesday, and for the first time ever there will be no white men in any of the U.K.'s four "Great Offices of State."

Driving the news: Truss traveled to Scotland on Tuesday so that Queen Elizabeth II could formally ask her to form a government and replace Boris Johnson as prime minister. Arriving in Downing Street hours later, she told the British people that "together we can ride out the storm" of the cost-of-living crisis.

  • Truss then named Kwasi Kwarteng as treasury secretary, James Cleverly as foreign secretary and Suella Braverman as home secretary — filling out the senior-most cabinet posts.
  • All three are the children of immigrants. Kwarteng's parents moved to the U.K. from Ghana, Braverman's arrived from Kenya and Mauritius (though both are of Indian ancestry), and Cleverly's mother emigrated from Sierra Leone.
  • Like Truss, they are all on the right flank of the Conservative Party. Some commentators have contended that Truss will lead the most right-wing government in recent history.

Why it matters: Truss is set to unveil a plan this week to cap energy prices, which had been due to surge by around 80%. But the former foreign secretary also promised a "bold plan" to grow the economy by slashing taxes in her remarks on Tuesday.

  • Her economic proposals have been facing scrutiny because certain tax cuts she supports would primarily benefit wealthier people at a time when many lower-income Brits are struggling to pay their bills.
  • Truss said Tuesday that her main priorities are generating economic growth, dealing with the energy crisis and putting the National Health Service on "firm footing."

Between the lines: The Conservative Party members who elected Truss make up less than 1% of the British electorate.

  • She has yet to win over the public at large. A YouGov poll found that 52% of voters believe she will make a "poor" or "terrible" prime minister, while just 12% think she'll be "good" or "great."

The big picture: Truss voted "remain" in the 2015 Brexit referendum, but went on to become one of her party's most enthusiastic champions of leaving the EU. Kwarteng, Braverman and Cleverly all campaigned for Brexit.

  • Truss has built her political brand in part on tussling with Brussels. Asked last week whether French President Emmanuel Macron was "friend or foe," Truss replied "the jury's out."
  • She's also been a strong advocate of arming Ukraine and raised eyebrows in April by declaring that Russia must be pushed out of "all of Ukraine."

Worth noting: Truss began her remarks outside her new home with a tribute to her predecessor and former boss, who was forced out after a string of scandals.

  • "Boris Johnson delivered Brexit, the COVID vaccine and stood up to Russian aggression," she said. "History will see him as a hugely consequential prime minister."

What's next: Truss will face her first grilling as prime minister during Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament on Wednesday.

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