The next prime minister’s celebrations are likely to be brief.
That’s because the biggest issue in Britain today isn’t the identity of the PM, but a spiralling cost-of-living crisis.
Average annual energy bills alone are set to rise 80% to £3,549 (approximately $4,180) from October – threatening to overwhelm much of the country. Inflation rose above 10% in July for the first time in 40 years, driven largely by the soaring cost of energy, food and fuel amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to the Bank of England, inflation will soar to 13% by the end of the year. The central bank also predicted that the UK will enter recession before the end of the year.
As far as this affects the Conservative Party leadership contest, analysts are skeptical that either candidate’s policies will help. The Institute for Fiscal studies, an independent research group, last month said the leadership contestants, who both promise tax cuts and smaller government spending, “need to recognise this even greater-than-usual uncertainty in the public finances.”
On Sunday, speaking on a BBC political show, the contest’s clear frontrunner Truss refused to discuss her plans to tackle rising bills, but added, “what I want to reassure people is, I will act if elected as prime minister within one week.”
Rishi Sunak has consistently attacked Truss’s economic agenda, saying that her proposed tax cuts would push inflation even higher. And if Truss wins today, she’ll immediately face pressure to match the opposition Labour Party’s plan to freeze energy bills before a planned price hike in October.