Truss defeated Rishi Sunak to become the leader of the Conservative Party and was officially appointed to become head of government by Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday. After thanking her predecessor in her first official speech, Truss vowed to cut taxes and address the soaring cost of electricity spurred by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“We will get spades in the ground to make sure people are not facing unaffordable energy bills. … I will deal hands-on with the energy crisis caused by Putin’s war,” Truss remarked. “I will take action this week to deal with energy bills and to secure our future energy supply.”
Johnson, the former mayor of London, resigned two months ago after reports that he and other lawmakers hosted parties during government lockdowns imposed on citizens. His term as prime minister was marked by “Brexit” — the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union — as well as the global spread of COVID.
Natural gas prices in much of Europe have increased more than tenfold in recent weeks compared to normal levels, prompting various nations to encourage lower usage among households and businesses. Truss is reportedly weighing an energy relief package worth £40 billion, the equivalent of $46.1 billion, according to documents seen by Bloomberg. While the policy would be geared toward businesses, a second proposal would fix electricity and gas bills for a typical household at or below the current level of £1,971, equivalent to $2,283, according to another report from Bloomberg.
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a 10% reduction in the nation’s energy usage. He urged residents of France to use air conditioning and heating a “bit less than usual” to avoid power outages — such as by keeping indoor temperatures no more than 19 degrees Celsius, roughly 66 degrees Fahrenheit, through the winter. Meanwhile, the French government is preparing energy rationing initiatives that could be implemented “as a last resort.”
The legislature of Spain has already mandated that public air conditioning be set no lower than 27 degrees Celsius, roughly 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit, through the summer months. Germany, which imported 55% of its natural gas from Russia before the invasion of Ukraine, has since reduced its dependence to 35%.
However, Russia cut off natural gas shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline over the weekend and called for the removal of sanctions imposed by Western powers in reaction to the Ukraine conflict. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed to reporters that the nation may resume gas shipments via Nord Stream 1 if the sanctions are eased.
“Problems with gas supply arose because of the sanctions imposed on our country by Western states, including Germany and Britain,” Peskov said. “We see incessant attempts to shift responsibility and blame onto us. We categorically reject this and insist that the collective West — in this case, the European Union, Canada, and the United Kingdom — is to blame for the fact that the situation has reached the point where it is now.”