Liz Truss kept her first speech as prime minister short and to the point – setting out three “early priorities” for her government.
Speaking for under five minutes from the Downing Street podium, Ms Truss pledged to turn Britain into an “aspiration nation” and vowed to “tackle the issues that are holding Britain back.”
“As strong as the storm may be,” she said, “I know that the British people are stronger.”
growing the economy
The first priority identified by the new prime minister was growing the economy via “tax cuts and reform”.
Focusing on the message that was at the heart of her leadership campaign, she said: “I will cut taxes to reward hard work and boost business-led growth and investment. I will drive reform in my mission to get the United Kingdom working and building growing.”
In a nod to the leveling up agenda of her predecessor, Boris Johnson, and the 2019 manifesto on which the parliamentary majority she inherited was won, she said: “We’ll get spades in the ground to make sure people are not facing unaffordable energy bills.
“We will also make sure that we are building hospitals, schools, roads and broadband,” she added.
Tackling the energy crisis
The second priority identified was the energy crisis and a plan to tackle it. Ms Truss said she would “deal hands on” with the situation “caused by Putin’s war”.
There were no specific details revealed about what will be in her plan, but she pledged to “take action this week to deal with energy bills and to secure our future energy supply”.
However, she gave an indication that rising fuel costs will not change the UK’s position when it comes to Russia.
She said while there were “severe global headwinds caused by Russia’s appalling war in Ukraine”, her government would “stand up for freedom and democracy around the world, recognizing that we can’t have security at home without having security abroad.”
No frills from Truss as she enters the storm
There was nothing flashy about the speech, predictably. Workmanlike would be the fairest description. And the content was equally predictable, too: praise for Boris Johnson at the start, help for families, tax cuts, help with energy bills and doctors’ appointments restored.
No surprises, except perhaps a Winston Churchill quote – “action this day” – that his predecessor might have used. It was probably the best soundbite in the speech, which lasted less than five minutes.
There were no frills, either. But then we didn’t expect any. She and her husband Hugh O’Leary also looked awkward as they posed for the traditional photo in front of the door. It’s the bad weather, rather than the speech, that will be remembered.
The third and final “early priority” set out by Ms Truss was the NHS.
Much like she has done during the Conservative leadership contest, she focused on primary care rather than the looming issues around social care.
She pledged to “make sure that people can get doctor’s appointments and the NHS services they need” and “put our health service on a firm footing”.
Tying the three priorities together in the conclusion of her speech, she said that “by delivering on the economy, on energy and on the NHS, we will put our nation on the path to long-term success.”
Beyond setting out her priorities, Ms Truss also paid tribute to Boris Johnson – who gave his own speech from the Downing Street lecture early this morning as he left Number 10.
But it was not a lengthy or particularly fulsome homage, with Ms Truss saying: “Let me pay tribute to my predecessor. Boris Johnson delivered Brexit, the COVID vaccine and stood up to Russian aggression.
“History will see him as a hugely consequential prime minister.”