London: Liz Truss, the new Conservative Party leader who beat former chancellor Rishi Sunak to replace Boris Johnson, will take charge as Britain’s new Prime Minister on Tuesday after an audience with the Queen in Scotland.
The 47-year-old foreign secretary, who follows Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May as the third female leader of the Tory party, will travel to the 96-year-old monarch’s Balmoral Castle residence in Aberdeenshire to become the first leader of the majority party to not be invited to form a government at Buckingham Palace in London.
Following her royal audience, soon after Johnson submits his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II, Truss will be flown right back to 10 Downing Street in London to deliver her inaugural speech as the Prime Minister before going on to unveil some key Cabinet posts.
Attorney General Suella Braverman is expected to be the only Indian-origin MP in her top team, as the Goan-origin former leadership contender is expected to be promoted to replace Priti Patel, who resigned as Home Secretary on Monday evening.
The 42-year-old Cabinet minister had thrown her weight behind 47-year-old Truss after being knocked out in the second round of ballots of fellow Tory MPs in mid-July and called on her supporters to follow suit.
After enjoying a prominent role in the Boris Johnson Cabinet as one of his close allies, Indian-origin Patel confirmed that “from the backbenches, I will champion many of the policies and causes that I have stood for both inside and outside of government”.
Sunak, the British Indian former finance minister who lost his Tory leadership bid 57-43 per cent, said he was “proud” of the campaign he ran and has indicated he did not plan to serve in a Truss-led Cabinet if offered a job.
“It’s a real privilege to have the job that I’ve had, to have been chancellor at a time of enormous difficulty for our country and I am proud of my record as chancellor, helping safeguard our economy through the biggest [pandemic] shock it experienced in something like 300 years,” he told the BBC, in an interview after the election result.
“I’m now going to be focussed on supporting my constituents first and foremost in North Yorkshire and continuing to be their member of Parliament as long as they’ll have me and giving Liz Truss my full support as the new Conservative government gets on with grappling with the challenges ahead of us now,” he said.
Among the other key posts in the new Cabinet, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng – a close ally – is being lined up as Chancellor of Exchequer and Education Secretary James Cleverly is to be promoted to take over Truss’ current portfolio of Foreign Secretary.
Other former leadership hopefuls such as British Pakistani Sajid Javid might be offered Northern Ireland Secretary and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi could be shifted to the role of Cabinet Office minister.
A handful of incumbent ministers, such as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, are expected to retain their jobs. Therese Coffey, a close friend of Truss, is expected to replace Steve Barclay as Health Secretary.
According to UK media reports, besides the Cabinet, a widespread change of guard is also due within Downing Street with some of Johnson’s senior-most aides set for an exit or reshuffle.