Truss pledges action on energy bills within a week of becoming British PM

Foreign secretary expected to win Tory party leadership contest and succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister on Tuesday

Liz Truss, who is expected to become Conservative Party leader on Monday, has promised “action on energy bills and energy supply” within a week of taking office.

The foreign secretary is far ahead of rival Rishi Sunak in polls of Conservative members and if she wins the contest she will succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister on Tuesday.

Ms Truss declined on Sunday to offer any details of her plan to help people with energy bills but she stepped back from earlier statements ruling out “handouts”. And she refused to rule out adopting Labour’s policy of freezing energy bills at their current level, with the government paying for the increased cost.

“I’m not going to go into details of what a putative announcement would be before because I think it would be wrong to do that,” she told the BBC.


“I’m not being coy. What I’m being very clear about is that I would act immediately, within a week. I understand what people are facing on energy bills. This is vital for people, it’s vital for our economy that we sort this problem out.”

Labour says it will fund the plan with the help of a windfall tax on energy companies’ profits, a move Ms Truss has rejected. She also rejected criticism that her plan to reverse an increase in national insurance rates would benefit higher earners the most.

“The people at the top of the income distribution pay more tax – so inevitably, when you cut taxes you tend to benefit people who are more likely to pay tax,” she said.

“To look at everything through the lens of redistribution I believe is wrong. Because what I’m about is growing the economy – and growing the economy benefits everybody. The economic debate for the past 20 years has been dominated by discussions about distribution. And what’s happened is we’ve had relatively low growth”.

The new leader of the Conservative Party will be formally announced in London at 12.30 on Monday but will not take office until formally appointed prime minister by Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Tuesday.

Mr Johnson will make a farewell statement outside 10 Downing Street on Tuesday morning before flying to Balmoral to be dismissed by the queen.

Ms Truss will fly to Scotland on a separate aircraft and follow Mr Johnson into Balmoral Castle before flying back to London where she will make a statement in Downing Street in the afternoon. She will announce her new cabinet during the course of the evening, with business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng expected to become chancellor of the exchequer and education secretary James Cleverly tipped to succeed Ms Truss as foreign secretary.

There is some speculation in London that the new prime minister could make an early visit to Dublin to discuss the stand-off over the Northern Ireland protocol. But the row between Britain and the European Union over the issue could deepen if, as she is reported to be considering, Ms Truss triggers Article 16 of the protocol within days of becoming prime minister.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times