The Daily Telegraph
‘We can ride out the storm’
◆ Energy bills to be frozen at £2,500 as Truss gets to work on cost of living crisis ◆ Inflation will halve by next summer thanks to support, say forecasters ◆ Coffey named Deputy PM in most diverse top ministerial team in history
LIZ TRUSS yesterday declared that Britain could “ride out the storm” of the cost of living crisis, as she prepared to freeze annual energy bills for households at about £2,500.
Speaking from the steps of No10 under grey clouds, the new Prime Minister reassured the country that financial help was coming.
She also appointed a Cabinet of loyalists to serve under her, rejecting calls from senior Tories to give top roles to supporters of Rishi Sunak, her leadership rival. Ms Truss will unveil a package of measures to help with energy costs as early as tomorrow.
Household energy bills are set to be frozen this winter and next, which forecasters predict could halve inflation to 5.2 per cent by the middle of next year.
Businesses are also expected to receive support, although details are still being finalised. The measures will be funded with borrowing and the total cost could be more than £150billion.
Speaking after a trip to Balmoral, where she was formally appointed Prime Minister by the Queen, Ms Truss said: “We shouldn’t be daunted by the challenges we face. As strong as the storm may be, I know that the British people are stronger.
“Our country was built by people who get things done. We have huge reserves of talent, of energy, and determination. 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.”
Ms Truss spent her first hours after entering Downing Street sacking members of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet and appointing her own.
Thérèse Coffey, one of Ms Truss’s closest friends in politics, was named Deputy Prime Minister and Health Secretary, in a signal of the importance she places on tackling the NHS backlog.
Kwasi Kwarteng was named Chancellor, James Cleverly became Foreign Secretary and Suella Braverman, who ran for the Tory leadership, was made Home Secretary.
It means for the first time in history none of the great offices of state is held by a white man. The three senior figures also have limited Cabinet experience – just three years combined.
Ms Truss chose not to give Cabinet jobs to many supporters of Mr Sunak, despite calls for a unity front bench. Mr Sunak was not appointed to a Cabinet role. The move is a political risk, given her two predecessors were forced out of office by a rebellion among Conservative MPS.
Ms Truss will hold her first Cabinet meeting today before facing Sir Keir Starmer in her first Prime Minister’s Questions. Last night she spoke on the phone to Joe Biden, the US president.
Mr Johnson drew the curtains on his three-year administration with a 7.30am speech outside No10 in which he pledged support to Ms Truss and touted his achievements in office.
But he also appeared to hint that hopes of a remarkable political comeback are not all gone, citing an Ancient Roman politician, Cincinnatus, who gave up power but returned to office.
‘We can rebuild our economy and we can become the modern brilliant Britain that I know we can be’
‘I will deal hands-on with the energy crisis caused by Putin’s war. I will take action this week to deal with energy bills’
Ms Truss’s own speech threatened to be overshadowed by the rain, with a downpour breaking out just moments before her arrival at No10.
The Downing Street podium was covered by a plastic bag and was removed as the shower struck, but was returned just in time as the rain eased for Ms Truss’s address.
The Prime Minister spelled out her three policy priorities in office.
“I will get Britain working again. I have a bold plan to grow the economy through tax cuts and reform.
“I will cut taxes to reward hard work and boost business-led growth and investment,” she said.
Addressing her second priority, Ms Truss said: “I will deal hands-on with the energy crisis caused by Putin’s war. I will take action this week to deal with energy bills and to secure our future energy supply.”
She named NHS reform as a third key drive: “I will make sure that people can get doctors’ appointments and the NHS services they need. We will put our health service on a firm footing.”
There was also praise for her predecessor: “Boris Johnson delivered Brexit, the Covid vaccine and stood up to Russian aggression. History will see him as a hugely consequential prime minister.”
Ms Truss also talked up the “grit, courage and determination” of the British people, saying: “I know that we have what it takes to tackle those challenges. Of course, it won’t be easy. But we can do it. We will transform Britain into an aspiration nation.”
Fresh details yesterday emerged about the package of support Ms Truss is preparing to announce later this week to protect firms and businesses from rising energy bills.
All 28 million households across the country are expected to be protected until 2024 in an intervention that goes further and lasts longer than the Labour Party’s proposals.
Annual energy bills for the average household will be frozen at about £2,500 – an exact figure is yet to be given. The existing £400 discount for every household will remain. The price cap had been due to rise to £3,549 next month. The Truss team has rejected energy firms’ proposals for consumers to pay back some of the support through higher prices over the next 10 or 20 years.
The support package for businesses is more complicated and still being worked out. One option is a freeze on energy costs but implementing the move quickly would be difficult.
The total cost to the taxpayer is uncertain – it will depend on the changing cost of energy. Bloomberg cited economists suggesting it could be as high as £200billion but government figures argued that sum was too high.
Mr Biden and Ms Truss agreed on the importance of protecting peace in Northern Ireland in a phone call last night. The White House is known to have concerns over the UK’S push to unilaterally change post-brexit trade rules in the province.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had invited Ms Truss to Ukraine after becoming the first foreign leader to hold a call with the new Prime Minister. A Downing Street spokesman said that Ms Truss had told the Ukrainian president that his country could count on the UK’S assistance “for the long term”.
‘We’ve got priorities A, B, C, D – ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists. We’re going to make sure we’re delivering for the patients’
THERESE COFFEY was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister last night as part of the most diverse Cabinet ever assembled.
Liz Truss also appointed her Health Secretary and vowed to get to work straight away to tackle her four top priorities to turn around the NHS.
For the first time, none of the great offices of state – Prime Minister, Chancellor, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary – is held by a white male.
Ms Truss appointed Kwasi Kwarteng, who has Ghanaian heritage, to the Treasury, tasked with delivering tax cuts and coming up with ways to help families deal with the energy crisis.
James Cleverly, whose mother is from Sierra Leone, was made Foreign Secretary and Suella Braverman – whose parents are of Indian origin – became Home Secretary.
Ms Coffey’s promotion from Work and Pensions Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister comes as thanks for her role in helping run Ms Truss’s campaign to be Tory leader.
As Deputy Prime Minister she is also expected to stand in for Ms Truss at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Last night she held meetings with senior officials at the Department of Health to lay out her main aims – dealing with ambulances, NHS backlogs, the state of care and the role of doctors and dentists.
Her pledge came amid mounting concerns over NHS waiting lists, a situation made worse by the huge backlog created by the Covid lockdowns.
She told Sky News: “I’m about to enter the department and meet our great civil servants I’m going to work with.
“We’ve got priorities A, B, C, D – ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists. And we’re going to work through that and make sure we’re delivering for the patients.”
Asked whether she was prepared for strikes, Miss Coffey said: “I think we’ve got to be ready for patients and that’s my top priority, and how we can make best use of our department and of course the NHS in order to achieve the best outcomes for them.”
Asked what her message was to potentially demoralised NHS staff, Miss Coffey said she recognised “they’ve done excellent work”.
The key role in Ms Truss’s Cabinet, that of Chancellor, went, as expected, to Mr Kwarteng.
The pair have been allies for years, and were among the authors of a libertarian political treatise, Britannia Unchained, in 2012.
Over the past few weeks he has been working behind the scenes in his role as Business Secretary on plans to help families cope with energy bills.
Stepping into Ms Truss’s shoes as Foreign Secretary is Mr Cleverly, who has only been in the Cabinet for two months, since he was appointed as Education Secretary by Boris Johnson.
However, he does have experience in the Foreign Office, having served as minister of state for Europe and North America, and before that as minister of state for the Middle East, North Africa and North America.
He worked with Ms Truss when she was foreign secretary last year.
Ms Braverman will move from attorney general to Home Secretary, where she is expected to take a tough stand against “wokery” in the police system.
Her rise comes as the result of her strong performance in the Tory leadership election – and despite the fact that she came out as a potential leadership contender before Mr Johnson had even resigned.
She had been so widely tipped to take the job that her predecessor, Priti Patel, announced her resignation to Mr Johnson on Monday night.
Ben Wallace will stay as Defence Secretary as the war in Ukraine continues.
Once tipped as a potential leadership candidate himself, Mr Wallace later came out for Ms Truss, thus guaranteeing his position.
He is one of the few members of the Cabinet to keep his old job.
The former chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, left the Treasury as expected – – not through any act of disloyalty but because his job had been promised to Mr Kwarteng.
During Mr Johnson’s final two months, he worked on a series of options for the new prime minister to deal with the energy crisis.
Last night he received compensation in the form of the post of Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster, which will see him take charge at the Cabinet Office.
He will also be minister for intergovernmental relations, in charge of relations with the devolved nations, and minister for equalities.
Brandon Lewis had been tipped for promotion, and he received it in the form of the Justice Secretary brief.
He had previously run Mr Zahawi’s leadership campaign, but joined Ms Truss’s side as soon as Mr Zahawi was eliminated.
Mr Lewis is another senior figure who has not been punished for resigning in July this year in an attempt to force Mr Johnson to quit.
It had been reported that a number of MPS turned down the role of Northern Ireland Secretary – never a popular job but even less so with negotiations over the post-brexit Northern Ireland Protocol expected to restart.
Ms Truss persuaded Chris Heatonharris, a former Brexit minister, to accept the position.
The new Prime Minister had to find a role for Penny Mordaunt, who came third in the Tory leadership contest.
After apparently turning down a number of roles, she was placated with the position of Leader of the House of Commons, a job which had previously been offered to former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.
The equivalent position in the Lords went to Lord True. He was the person in the Cabinet Office who commissioned the legal advice for Mr Johnson about the privileges committee.
The crucial role of Chief Whip in the Commons went to Wendy Morton.
Another loyal Truss supporter, Chris Philp, was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Jake Berry, chairman of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPS, was appointed minister without portfolio
and chairman of the Conservative Party.
Downing Street also confirmed that Alok Sharma would be re-appointed as Cop26 president.
Jacob Rees-mogg, another key Truss ally, was moved into a powerful position – that of Business Secretary.
Working with Mr Kwarteng, he will be in charge of government efforts to bring people’s energy prices down.
Another Truss supporter to be promoted was Simon Clarke, who goes from chief secretary to the Treasury to Levelling Up Secretary.
Mr Clarke was Mr Sunak’s deputy when he was chancellor, and his decision to back Ms Truss and support her plans for tax cuts has stood him in good stead.
The job of Education Secretary was reportedly difficult to fill, but in the end Ms Truss went for Kit Malthouse.
Ms Truss was also keen to give her former leadership rival Kemi Badenoch a promotion to the Cabinet.
Last night she appointed her as International Trade Secretary and President of the Board of Trade, responsible for signing post-brexit trade deals.
Although Ms Badenoch did not get down to the final two Tory leadership candidates, her anti-woke policies impressed members.
But it was considered too difficult to give her a job such as Education or Culture, because these are too much at the forefront of the so-called culture wars.
The position of Work and Pensions Secretary, which deals with Britain’s welfare system, was given to Chloe Smith.
Like Ms Truss, she represents a Norfolk constituency and supported the Remain side before the 2016 referendum.
Mr Shapps’s departure from the Cabinet as transport secretary left a space for Anne-marie Trevelyan to take over the position.
She is faced with a difficult inbox, topped by a series of threatened strikes by the rail unions.
Michelle Donelan entered the Cabinet again as Culture Secretary, a role vacated yesterday morning by Nadine Dorries, even though she is an avowed Truss supporter.
Miss Donelan’s chances of promotion were not hampered by her decision to resign as education secretary just two days after she had been appointed by Mr Johnson.
Her resignation came just minutes after he announced he was stepping down as prime minister.
Key Truss ally Ranil Jayawardena, the former trade minister, was appointed the new Environment Secretary.
This will be his first Cabinet position and will be considered a reward for his work leading the transition team, sketching out the shape of a Truss government.
Sir Robert Buckland will remain in his role as the Welsh Secretary and Alister Jack is staying on as Scottish Secretary.
Sir Robert was originally a backer of Mr Sunak, but swapped his support three weeks ago.
The only Sunak supporter in the Truss cabinet is Michael Ellis, who becomes Attorney General.
During the leadership campaign, the Truss team thought they were close to winning his support. He never moved across, but refrained from direct criticism of Ms Truss.