How Liz Truss's First Week As Prime Minister Has Been Like No Other

·5-min read
(Photo: Ian West via PA Wire/PA Images)
(Photo: Ian West via PA Wire/PA Images)

(Photo: Ian West via PA Wire/PA Images)

When Liz Truss woke up on Monday morning, she was just the foreign secretary.

By the time she eventually gets to bed tonight, she will have been elected Tory leader, asked to form a government by one monarch, had an audience with another and unveiled a £100 billion package to prevent millions being plunged into poverty this winter.

As first weeks as prime minister go, it is without parallel.

Here, HuffPost UK looks back on a seismic five days which changed the country forever.

Truss beats Sunak

Following a bruising 12-week leadership contest, Truss officially became the Conservative leader at 12.30pm on Monday.

She received 81,326 votes from Conservative members - 57 per cent - compared to 60,399 (43 per cent) for her rival, Rishi Sunak.

In her victory speech, Truss vowed to lead the Tories to a “great victory” at the next election, which she said would not be until 2024.

“I campaigned as a Conservative and I will govern as a Conservative,” she said. “We need to deliver over the next two years.”

She celebrated her victory by having lunch with her husband, Hugh O’Leary.

It was to be her last moment of relaxation for some time.

Exit Boris, Enter Liz 

On Tuesday morning, Boris Johnson left 10 Downing Street for the last time as prime minister, travelling to Balmoral to hand in his resignation to the Queen.

Before his departure, in a speech outside the famous black door, he took one final swipe at the Tory MPs who had forced him from office less than three years after he led them to a thumping election victory.

“The baton will be handed over in what has unexpectedly turned out to be a relay race. They changed the rules halfway through, but never mind that now.”

As soon as his private plane landed at Aberdeen airport, the government jet carrying Truss north for her own audience with the 96-year-old monarch took off from RAF Northolt.

In what was to be her first and last meeting with the Queen as prime minister, Truss was invited to form a government.

Standing outside No.10 a few hours later, she echoed Winston Churchill as she vowed to take “action this day” to tackle the cost of living crisis.

“I am confident that together we can ride out the storm, we can rebuild our economy and we can become the modern, brilliant Britain that I know we can be,” she said.

“This is our vital mission to ensure opportunity and prosperity for all people and future generations. I am determined to deliver.”

The Queen invites Liz Truss to form a government during an audience at Balmoral. (Photo: Jane Barlow via PA Wire/PA Images)
The Queen invites Liz Truss to form a government during an audience at Balmoral. (Photo: Jane Barlow via PA Wire/PA Images)

The Queen invites Liz Truss to form a government during an audience at Balmoral. (Photo: Jane Barlow via PA Wire/PA Images)

In Liz they Truss-t

By her own admission, Truss is not a great public speaker, so expectations were not high ahead of her first prime minister’s questions.

And while she did not scale the rhetorical heights of her predecessor, she more than held her own against Labour leader Keir Starmer, earning her the loud approval of her sceptical MPs.

She also managed to make a clean break from the Johnson era by giving straight answer to his questions, especially when he asked her whether she would bring in a new windfall tax on energy firms’ huge profits.

Truss said the UK couldn’t “tax its way to growth”, adding: “The way we will grow our economy is by attracting investment, keeping taxes low, delivering the reforms to build projects quicker.”

The bad news breaks

Rumours about the Queen’s health were already swirling at Westminster on Thursday morning ahead of the PM’s announcement that the energy price cap was being frozen at £2,500 for the next two years.

Shortly after Truss had made the announcement in the Commons, she was seen in deep conversation with Cabinet Office minister Nadhim Zahawi, while a note was also passed to Keir Starmer. The atmosphere in the chamber noticeably darkened as MPs’ thoughts turned to the monarch’s wellbeing.

In a highly unusual move, Buckingham Palace issued a statement confirming the Queen was unwell and was “resting” at Balmoral.

Senior Royals were summoned to the monarch’s Scottish retreat from around the country as the country braced itself for bad news.

Then, at around 6.30pm, it was confirmed that the Queen had died.

A nation mourns

Within the hour, Truss was outside 10 Downing Street, standing at the same spot and behind the same lectern where she had addressed the nation for the first time as prime minister barely 48 hours before.

This time, she was leading the nation’s response to the news that the monarch had died after 70 years on the throne.

“Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built,” she said. “Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her.”

King Charles III during his first audience with Liz Truss at Buckingham Palace. (Photo: Yui Mok via PA Wire/PA Images)
King Charles III during his first audience with Liz Truss at Buckingham Palace. (Photo: Yui Mok via PA Wire/PA Images)

King Charles III during his first audience with Liz Truss at Buckingham Palace. (Photo: Yui Mok via PA Wire/PA Images)

God save the King

Truss had her first audience with King Charles III this afternoon at Buckingham Palace, just three days after accepting his late mother’s invitation to form a new government.

Of his mother’s death, he said: “It’s the moment I’d been dreading, as I know a lot of people have. But, have to try and keep everything going.”

No matter what the rest of her time in office brings, it is highly unlikely that it will match the intensity and national significance of her first week as prime minister.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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