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Liz Truss to be Britain’s new prime minister, replacing Boris Johnson



  • Liz Truss beat Rishi Sunak to become Britain’s new prime minister
  • Boris Johnson resigned as prime minister in July

Britain will get its third prime minister in just over three years as the ruling Conservative Party announced Monday it had chosen Liz Truss to be its new leader after an internal party contest.

Truss replaces Boris Johnson, a controversial maverick who defied many of Britain’s political traditions. Johnson resigned in July after senior members of his government turned against him amid a series of scandals connected to breaking his own coronavirus lockdown rules and waning appetite for his brand of populist politics .Because Britain elects a party, not a specific leader, the party in power has some scope to swap in a new prime minister. Truss was selected by about 172,000 grassroots members of the Conservative Party. That figure represents less than 1% of the U.K.’s 67 million population.

The new prime minister takes office Tuesday and assumes power as household energy bills in the U.K. soar to unaffordable levels for millions of people.

In a brief speech, Truss thanked Johnson.

“Boris, you got Brexit done. You crushed Jeremy Corbyn, you rolled out the vaccine. And you stood up to Vladimir Putin. You were admired from Kyiv to Carlisle.”

Truss won 81,326 votes to Sunak’s 60,399, or 57% to 43%.

Truss, 47, has sought to portray herself as the political heir to Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s “Iron Lady” and first female leader who advocated with zeal for free markets, lower taxes and the privatization of large state enterprises from telecoms to energy. Truss served in Johnson’s government, first as a trade minister and then as foreign secretary. She has taken a hardline stance on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

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“The thread that runs through Truss’s career is a belief in small government,” Daniel Hannan, a former Conservative party politician, wrote in an opinion piece published on his website.  Hannan is now known as Lord Hannan of Kingsclere in the House of Lords, the unelected upper House of Parliament to which he was appointed by Johnson.

Sunak, 42, served in Johnson’s government as finance minister, where he oversaw a multi-billion dollar coronavirus support package for businesses and workers. His campaign struggled to shake off the perception, anathema to Conservative political ideology, that he presided over a big state intervention during the coronavirus pandemic. It was aimed at warding off mass unemployment and an economic depression.

Political experts say Britain’s new leader is unlikely to usher in major changes to the U.K.’s foreign policy that would upend its close relationship with the White House. But one possible flashpoint that Truss inherits from Johnson is what to do with the border between Northern Ireland, part of the U.K., and Ireland, part of the European Union, as a result of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union, known as Brexit.

This previously open border is now subject to checks on some goods and services and Conservatives want to change the customs and immigrations rules at the risk, say U.S. and European officials, of damaging the fragile peace that’s existed in Northern Ireland since the U.S.-brokered Good Friday Agreement took effect in1998.

“Truss is a full-throated Atlanticist, as is Sunak, who thinks that the U.K. is the keystone NATO partner,” said Matt Beech, director of the Center for British Politics, University of Hull, England, referring to close U.S.-U.K. security cooperation.

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The first order of business for Truss will be to reassure the British public that she has a plan to deal with rapidly increasing energy costs and an inflationary spiral caused by the lingering coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine and Britain’s almost two-year-old exit from the EU bloc. All three events have disrupted supply chains and led to higher consumer costs.

The U.K. uses little oil and gas supplied by Russia, but by next month the typical British household is expected to pay around $4,200 a year to heat and power a home, according to Ofgem, Britain’s energy regulator. That’s an 80% annual rise and reflects the way the British government has engineered its energy market to be reliant on wholesale prices, which have skyrocketed amid the war in Ukraine.

Forecasts suggest U.K. energy bills could reach more than $7,700 early next year, more than many U.K. residents pay for rent or a mortgage and threatening to trigger so-called fuel poverty for millions and force many small businesses to close.

“Unless the government steps in there will be a social catastrophe,” independent personal finance expert Martin Lewis told a BBC radio program recently.

“How (Truss) reacts to the energy crisis will not only have a direct impact on the lives of U.K. citizens and the survival of many businesses, but also affect perception of the competence of the administration,” said Antony Froggatt, an environmental policy expert at Chatham House, a London-based think tank.

“It is a baptism by fire.”

As part of the hand over of power, Queen Elizabeth will receive Johnson and Truss at Balmoral, her estate in Scotland, on Tuesday, Buckingham Palace said.

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It is a break from tradition. Normally the queen would host the departing and new British leaders at her London residence, which she has done 15 times before during her 70-year reign. In recent months the monarch, 96, has participated in fewer royal duties. (USA TODAY)

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Breaking: Aborted coup in Burkina Faso



• Captain Ibrahim Traoré head of Burkina Faso junta

• Junta says its intelligence and security services have foiled a coup attempt

An attempted coup in Burkina Faso was thwarted on Tuesday by security and intelligence services, the ruling junta announced on Wednesday.

It did not provide specifics or the name of the coup plotters, but said arrests have been made, while manhunt has begun for other collaborators.

In a statement it said officers and others had planned to destabilise the country with “the dark intention of attacking the institutions of the Republic and plunging our country in chaos.”

“Investigations will help unmask the instigators of this plot,” the junta said.

The junta on Monday suspended French news magazine Jeune Afrique for publishing “untruthful” articles that reported tension and discontent within Burkina Faso’s armed forces.

The next day thousands of pro-junta demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Ouagadougou and elsewhere to show their support, citing rumours of a brewing mutiny against the authorities.

The junta came to power after two military coups last year, triggered in part by worsening insurgency by armed groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State that has destabilised Burkina Faso and its neighbours in West Africa’s Sahel region.

Over 50 Burkinabe soldiers and volunteer fighters were killed in clashes with militants in early September – the heaviest losses in months.

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56,000 schools shut over eye virus outbreak



A patient suffering from an eye infection gets examined by a doctor at a hospital in Lahore on September 27, 2023. More than 56,000 Pakistan schools will shut for the remainder of the week in a bid to curb a mass outbreak of a contagious eye virus, officials said on September 27. – AFP photo.

More than 56,000 Pakistan schools will shut for the rest of the week in a bid to curb a mass outbreak of a contagious eye virus, officials said Wednesday.

Millions of students will stay home from tomorrow after Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, announced blanket closures having recorded 357,000 conjunctivitis cases since the start of the year.

The fast-spreading eye infection causes redness, itchiness and discharge from the eyes and contamination can spread through hand contact, as well as coughing and sneezing.

“The closure has been announced as a proactive measure to give maximum protection to students against the infection,” Punjab Education Department spokesman Zulfiqar Ali told AFP.

There are 127,000,000 residents in eastern Punjab province and 56,000 state schools, as well as thousands of independent schools also subject to the shutdown.

“We hope this will break the cycle of the infection in the province,” Ali said.

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Army put on standby as UK Police hand in weapon



• UK police officer holding his firearms

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence is offering soldiers to support armed police in London after dozens of police officers stood down from firearms duties, BBC reports.

More than 100 officers have turned in permits allowing them to carry weapons, a source told the BBC, in support of a fellow officer who has been charged with murder over the fatal shooting of a young Black man, Chris Kaba.

The officer, named only as NX121, who appeared in court last week, has been charged over the death of Chris Kaba in September 2022.

Kaba died hours after he was struck by a single gunshot fired into the vehicle he was driving in the Streatham area of South London.

It later emerged that the Audi Mr Kaba was driving, which did not belong to him, had been linked by police to a gun incident the day before.

His death prompted a number of protests and renewed allegations of racism within the force.

The Ministry of Defence said it received a request, known as Military Aid to the Civil Authorities, from the Home Office to “provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed”.

A MACA is offered to the police or the NHS in emergency situations. The military helped medical staff in the Covid pandemic and covered for striking border staff and paramedics last year.

The Met said it was a “contingency option” that would only be used “in specific circumstances and where an appropriate policing response was not available”.

Military staff would not be used “in a routine policing capacity”, it added.

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On Saturday, the Met said its own officers still make up the vast majority of armed police in the capital but they were being supported by a limited number of firearms officers from neighbouring forces.

Announcing the review, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the public “depend on our brave firearms officers to protect us”.

“In the interest of public safety they have to make split-second decisions under extraordinary pressures.”

She said that officers have her “full backing”.

“I will do everything in my power to support them,” she added.

In his letter to the home secretary, the Met Police commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said that a system where officers are investigated for “safely pursuing suspects” should not have been allowed to develop.

Sir Mark said he would “make no comment” on any ongoing legal matters, but “the issues raised in this letter go back further”.

He said firearms officers are concerned that they will face years of legal proceedings, “even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given”.

“Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour,” he wrote.

But in instances where officers act improperly, Sir Mark said the system “needs to move swiftly” rather than “tying itself in knots pursuing good officers through multiple legal processes”.

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