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05 September 2022

Liz Truss to become UK’s third female prime minister

05 September 2022

Liz Truss is to become the third female prime minister in UK history, following in the footsteps of her political idol and the first woman to occupy No 10, Margaret Thatcher.

Ms Truss emerged as the winner in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Tory leader on Monday, having beaten Rishi Sunak in the poll of party members.

She will travel to Balmoral on Tuesday to meet the Queen for the formal handover of power.

Ms Truss will be the third woman the monarch has appointed to the country’s top job during her reign, following Mrs Thatcher and Theresa May.

The 47-year-old has sought to portray herself as the tax-cutting heir to the Iron Lady, who governed from 1979 to 1990.

Ms Truss channelled the Tory grandee in numerous photo ops as Foreign Secretary, donning military gear and perched on a tank in one that echoed an image of Mrs Thatcher in a tank in West Germany in 1986.

But critics including rival Rishi Sunak have branded her polices the opposite of Thatcherism, saying they fail to meet the rapidly worsening cost-of-living crisis.

The Queen, former US president Ronald Reagan and then-PM Margaret Thatcher at Buckingham Palace (PA)

Mrs May became the UK’s second female prime minister in July 2016 in the wake of the Brexit vote, more than a quarter of a century after Mrs Thatcher stood down.

Her premiership ended in 2019 after she endured a torrid time dogged by the issue of Brexit. She was succeeded by Mr Johnson.

His departure will see the Queen welcome Ms Truss as her 15th prime minister, and the third woman in the role.

All female premiers have so far been Conservative.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer defended his party’s record on equality on Monday ahead of Ms Truss’s victory in the Tory leadership race.

He told reporters in north London: “I am very proud of the Labour Party’s record when it comes to equality.

“Over half of our MPs are women. Over half of my shadow cabinet are women. I’ve got a woman who’s my shadow chancellor and a woman who’s my shadow home secretary.”

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Labour was not “complacent” on gender equality.

Mr Streeting told the PA news agency: “We’ve consistently led the way on gender equality – when you look at the diversity of Labour’s top team, in the shadow cabinet we’ve got a diverse team drawn from all parts of the country.

“In Rachel Reeves we have the person who’d be the country’s first woman chancellor, so we’re not complacent on this issue.”

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