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Good luck, Liz Truss — you’re gonna need it.

Britain’s new prime minister takes office Tuesday — and she’ll be greeted immediately with a bulging in-tray as the U.K. economy plunges into disarray amid a crippling cost-of-living crisis.

From Kyiv to Carlisle, POLITICO’s London Playbook takes a look at all the issues Truss will have to wrestle with in the months ahead.

Soaring inflation

Inflation is now hovering just above the 10 percent mark, and forecast by the Bank of England to hit a jaw-dropping 13 percent next month.

Political difficulty rating: 9/10

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Spiraling energy prices

Intimately linked to inflation is the inexorable rise in energy bills, which if left unchecked will bankrupt businesses and plunge millions of families into destitution. The planned energy price cap increase in October and the prospect of further frightening increases over the winter represent the biggest and most immediate problem Truss faces and her response will set the tone for her premiership — making any misstep very difficult to recover from.

Political difficulty rating: 9/10

Strikes

The summer of discontent might be over but the fall is just getting started. Barristers are on indefinite strike as of Monday; rail strikes are continuing into September, thanks to a deadlock in talks between industry chiefs and union leaders; postal workers are striking later this week; and there’s the prospect of industrial action from civil servants, doctors, nurses and teachers on the not-very-distant horizon.

Political difficulty rating: 7/10

Drought and water pollution

Hosepipe bans have been introduced across swathes of England and Wales following a scorching hot summer — with people’s plans to enjoy the sunny weather scuppered by water companies pumping sewage into rivers and beaches.

Political difficulty rating: 5/10

Climate change

This summer’s hot weather was just the beginning, unless bold action is taken on climate change. Truss has pledged to stick with the U.K.’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2050, but getting there will become more difficult thanks to her promise to scrap green levies from energy bills and reintroduce fracking in areas where this is supported. The new prime minister might find herself having to justify those plans at COP27, which kicks off in November in Egypt.

Political difficulty rating: 7/10

NHS crisis

The summer saw reports of ambulances queuing up for hours outside A&E departments, while a colossal elective care backlog remains. The annual winter pressures on the health service mean things are only about to get worse, without even accounting for the impact of a COVID resurgence.

Political difficulty rating 9/10

Migrant crossings

Despite promises that the Rwanda deportation scheme would act as a deterrent, the number of people crossing the Channel has remained stubbornly high — and this is a hot-button issue for the Tory right wing.

Political difficulty rating: 7/10

War in Ukraine

The war resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dragged on far longer than Western governments predicted. The U.K. has given billions of pounds worth of support to Ukrainian forces so far and there is no sign of a resolution anytime soon.

Political difficulty rating: 7/10

China tensions

Truss has made a virtue of her hawkish approach to China during this contest but any reduction in trade would put yet more pressure on the British economy.

Political difficulty rating: 6/10

Difficult relations with key Western allies

Joe Biden’s administration in the U.S. is suspicious of Truss because of her stance on the Northern Ireland protocol and relations with France’s Emmanuel Macron have certainly got off to a poor start.

Political difficulty rating: 6/10

Rebellious MPs

Truss inherits a splintered and ill-tempered parliamentary party, less than a third of whom backed her leadership bid before she made the final runoff. Party discipline is going to be her biggest challenge as PM, argues a piece Tuesday in the Financial Times. “The parliamentary party has become almost ungovernable,” a senior government insider says in the piece. “They did for Boris and they may do for Liz too.”

Political difficulty rating: 6/10

Labour surging in polls

The spectacle of the Tory leadership contest has helped gift Labour a 9-point polling lead, according to POLITICO’s Poll of Polls aggregator. With polls suggesting Sunak was the more popular candidate among swing voters, Truss will face pressure to demonstrate how she can win.

Political difficulty rating: 6/10

Watching nationalists

Scottish nationalists desperate for a second independence referendum are cautiously optimistic that Truss will go down like a bucket of cold sick north of the border and push more Scots toward separation.

Political difficulty rating: 5/10

Privileges committee saga

To describe the Commons privileges committee investigation as a toxic mess would be an understatement, with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling in lawyers and his allies briefing aggressively against the probe. Truss made clear during the contest that she has no faith in the process and has even said she would vote against it — which critics warn could be her Owen Paterson moment.

Political difficulty rating: 6/10

Boris Johnson’s popularity

The manner of Johnson’s defenestration has endowed him with martyr status among a section of Tory activists. This is going to be a problem for Truss, particularly if Johnson decides to use his celebrity status to put pressure on her government on issues he cares about — such as, notably, the environment.

Political difficulty rating: 7/10

Rishi Sunak’s resurgence

Assuming he doesn’t jet off to California soon, Sunak is going to be another thorn in Truss’ side. He has promised to support her government for now but the same cannot be said of his sizeable band of supporters within the parliamentary party.

Political difficulty rating: 5/10


Link to original article on https://www.politico.eu/article/liz-truss-overflowing-inbox-political-challenge-uk-prime-minister/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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