The UK’s new prime minister will have “no time to waste” when it comes to tackling the cost-of-living crisis, Nicola Sturgeon has insisted, telling Liz Truss the lives of people across the UK will be “affected by the decisions she takes in the days to come”.
With more and more people coming under financial pressure, and with energy bills due to rise next month, Ms Sturgeon said the incoming PM had big decisions to make immediately after entering 10 Downing Street.
I know how difficult leadership is in the best of times, and these are not the best of times
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
The First Minister pledged to build a “positive, constructive working relationship” with the new Conservative leader – despite Ms Truss branding Ms Sturgeon an “attention seeker” in the contest to succeed Mr Johnson, and saying she would “ignore” her.
The First Minister said: “I wish Liz Truss well as prime minister. I congratulate her on her appointment. It’s a big responsibility.
“I know how difficult leadership is in the best of times, and these are not the best of times.”
Ms Sturgeon said that “despite our political differences” she would look to work with the Conservative as she added: “She’s got big decisions that she needs to take not in the weeks ahead, but in the hours ahead.”
The Scottish First Minister urged Ms Truss to “freeze energy bills and not allow the October increase to go ahead”, as well as calling on her to deliver some respite for businesses from mounting energy costs.
She also said Ms Truss needed to “give more cash support to people who are already struggling to pay their heating bills or to feed their children, and to deliver more funding for devolved governments to protect public services and public sector workers”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “These are big responsibilities and there is no time to waste. Not just Liz Truss’s premiership but the future of the UK and the lives of people in every part of the UK will be affected by the decisions she takes in the days to come.”
Congratulations to Liz Truss. Our political differences are deep, but I will seek to build a good working relationship with her as I did with last 3 PMs.
She must now freeze energy bills for people & businesses, deliver more cash support, and increase funding for public services
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) September 5, 2022
Ms Truss will formally become prime minister on Tuesday when she meets the Queen at Balmoral after defeating former chancellor Rishi Sunak with around 57% of the vote
Ms Truss – the current Foreign Secretary – is expected to announce cost-of-living support, which could include freezing energy bills, during her first week in the top job.
Ms Sturgeon, however, pointed out that the Tory is the fourth PM she has dealt with since she became First Minister in 2014.
She said: “I’ve had big political differences with David Cameron, Theresa May, certainly with Boris Johnson. But I’ve sought to have a good working relationship and I will do the same with Liz Truss.
“So, if she’s prepared to show respect, not to me as an individual but to the office of first minister to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government, then there’s no reason why we can’t work together on the areas we can find agreement on.
“Of course, we will have our disagreements. That’s the stuff of democracy, but we have a duty to act together, where we can, in the interests of those we serve.”
Her comments came as she as she claimed Mr Johnson had “let down” people across the UK in his time in office.
Speaking about Mr Johnson, Ms Sturgeon said: “I wish him well and wish his family well as he departs office, but I don’t think many people in Scotland are going to be sorry to see him leave the office of prime minister .
“He perhaps has been the worst Prime Minister in our lifetimes.”
She continued: “Scotland never voted for him. But I think many people across the UK will think that he has let down the UK and let down and perhaps in some ways tarnished the office of prime minister.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross was among the Tory MPs congratulating Ms Truss on becoming party leader and next prime minister.
He urged the party to unite to tackle the country’s “big challenges” following the leadership contest.
He said both Ms Truss and opponent Mr Sunak should be “proud” of the campaign and their engagement with Tory party members.
Mr Ross added: “Now that the leadership election is over, it is time for the whole of the Conservative Party to come together to tackle the big challenges our country faces.
“Throughout her political career, Liz Truss has shown herself to have a record of delivery, whether that was in removing US tariffs on whisky and cashmere or in managing the UK’s robust support for Ukraine both before and following the Russian invasion.
“I look forward to working with our new leader and prime minister as she continues to deliver for Scotland and the whole of the UK at this most challenging of times.”
A leadership expert, however, sent a stark warning to Ms Truss that her decision-making could define her time at No 10.
Dr Christian Harrison, from University of the West of Scotland (UWS), said: “The choices she makes when it comes to the cost-of-living crisis, rising energy bills, strikes in the public sector and relating to the war in Ukraine may irreversibly shape how her time as prime minister is perceived.
“It will also be very interesting to see how Sir Keir Starmer adapts his approach as Labour leader, as she makes these key decisions.
“He will need to explain not only what he would do differently, but also why it is better, and demonstrate that Labour provides a clear alternative as we approach the next election.”
Political opponents from Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats have criticised the result, with both leaders Anas Sarwar and Alex Cole-Hamilton saying the appointment is set to be “more of the same” as Boris Johnson’s tenure.
Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater said the result is “terrible news” for Scotland and the environment.