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UNIONS warned Liz Truss today that she faces “fierce resistance” if she attacks workers’ rights after entering Downing Street.
Ms Truss came under intense pressure to drop her campaign rhetoric to slash workers’ rights as soon as she was announced as the winner of the Tory leadership contest.
She also faced fresh demands to reveal her plans for tackling the deepening cost-of-living crisis, something she has so far failed to do.
Sir Graham Brady, chair of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, announced whom a little over 140,000 party members had elected as their new party leader — and the country’s next prime minister — at an event in London.
Ms Truss received 81,326 votes against 60,399 for Mr Sunak and will formally take over from Boris Johnson as prime minister today.
Her share of the vote among Tory members was the lowest in any leadership election by the party.
It was also the lowest ever share of the vote amongst Tory MPs for any winning candidate.
The CWU contrasted the number of votes received by Ms Truss with the 85,100 postal workers voting for strike action, tweeting: “Remember that when they come at unions about democracy in the coming days.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Liz Truss got 47 per cent of eligible Tory members.
“She wouldn't meet the threshold that ministers [plan to] set for union members voting on strike action.”
In a short speech after the result was declared Ms Truss thanked Mr Johnson, saying: “You got Brexit done. You crushed Jeremy Corbyn. You rolled out the vaccine and you stood up to Vladimir Putin.”
But unions warned that there would be no honeymoon period for Ms Truss.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Attempts to place effective industrial action outside of the law are a direct assault on the democratic rights of the British people and will be met with fierce, prolonged resistance.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “If she comes for our hard-working members’ jobs and working conditions, she’ll face opposition every step of the way.”
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “If Liz Truss tries to capitalise on this historic crisis to try and stamp out the working class movement, we will take her on and beat her back.”
“Tackling the cost-of-living crisis must be the prime minister’s number one priority, not wasting precious time attacking unions for trying to help working people through the pain,” Unison leader Christina McAnea warned.
National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The general public will see through any attempt by Liz Truss to disassociate herself from 12 years of Conservative mismanagement.”
Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North, said Ms Truss’s premiership should take immediate action “to tackle the cost-of-living crisis that is pushing millions into poverty.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted his congratulations, but added: “After 12 years of the Tories all we have to show for it is low wages, high prices, and a Tory cost-of-living crisis.”
And the leaders of the devolved Welsh and Scottish governments said the new PM had to act quickly on collapsing living standards.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said: “We now need to work together with urgency to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and save millions from hardship this winter.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on Ms Truss to “freeze energy bills for people & businesses, deliver more cash support, and increase funding for public services.”
Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths said that only “a revolutionary change” to socialism would make a difference.
He said: “Whoever is Tory leader or prime minister, the ruling class remains in power.
“Liz Truss will serve the interests of big business and the super-rich — the challenge for the labour movement and the left is to mobilise the working class and masses of people in the fight to defend their own interests.”
Socialist Campaign Group of MPs co-chairwoman Zarah Sultana said: “Let's be in no doubt: 12 years of Tory class war is set to get even worse. It’s time the rest of us fought back.”
End Fuel Poverty Coalition co-ordinator Simon Francis demanded more emergency money for people this winter, funding to help everyone cut their bills with better insulation, and a rapid move away from expensive gas and to cheaper, renewable energy.
Debt Justice executive director Heidi Chow said: “The government needs to expand the windfall tax on energy producers to freeze energy prices and pay off the £2bn of energy debt that UK households have already taken on to give everyone a fighting chance of keeping the lights on this winter.”
Campaigners also demanded a change from the authoritarian human rights agenda of the Johnson premiership.
Amnesty International chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said: “We need a new agenda on rights and a clean break from the Johnson years with their dangerous drift towards ever more authoritarian laws and policies.
Law Society president Stephanie Boyce said the proposed new Bill of Rights “needs a complete rethink as the current draft represents a lurch backwards for British justice which would disempower people in Britain while giving the state more unfettered authority.
Labour MP Andy McDonald called for a general election to “allow voters to demand a government with a plan to tackle the cost-of-living and energy bills crisis and deliver a new deal for working people.”
Shortly after Ms Truss’s victory, Priti Patel announced her resignation as home secretary, with Attorney General Suella Braverman widely tipped to be Ms Truss’s favoured candidate for the role.
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