Liz Truss has been announced as the new leader of the Conservative Party. As prime minister, she will have an opportunity to change the government’s approach to the rule of law and deal with the current crisis in the justice system.
Ever since entering Parliament in 2010, Truss has rapidly climbed the political ladder and has held several cabinet positions under previous leaders including as foreign secretary.
“I am confident that together we can ride out the storm. We can rebuild our economy, and we can become the modern brilliant Britain that I know we can be,” the 47-year-old former foreign secretary said outside her new Downing Street home and office.
The new cabinet will be charged with delivering on Truss’ three stated priorities: tax cuts to boost the economy, help over rising energy costs, and the long-standing problem of the state-run NHS.
Undoubtedly, she inherits an economy in crisis, with price increases at double digits and the Bank of England warning of a lengthy recession by the end of this year. Already, workers across a variety of sectors have gone on strike and this shows no sign of abating.
Our criminal justice system is however also facing a make-or-break moment with huge backlogs in the courts postponing justice for victims and defendants. Chronic underfunding is forcing lawyers to leave this area of work in droves and leading to the collapse of our vital network of duty solicitor schemes. Of immediate importance is the plight of barristers who are currently on strike over pay. There are ever-growing calls on the PM to immediately implement the minimum 15% criminal legal aid rate increase advised by Lord Bellamy to ensure the wheels of justice keep turning.
Undeniably, investment needs to be made across the entire justice system, including on court buildings, to ensure timely access to justice is available to all.
Truss has also made a pledge to scrap plans to raise corporation tax on big firms, and to reverse an increase in a payroll tax on workers and employers, intended to raise additional funding for health and social care, with the extra spending coming from general taxation instead.
Only time will tell if our new PM can keep her promises and, as she has promised “get Britain working again…”.