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Liz Truss officially takes over as the U.K.'s prime minister

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Liz Truss is now officially Britain's fourth prime minister in six years and the third woman to take on the role. She starts the job at a time when the U.K. is already facing serious economic and energy issues as Willem Marx reports from London.

WILLEM MARX, BYLINE: After a long, hot summer of competitive campaigning for this new job, a coronation by her Conservative Party and a private jet dash to the Queen's residence in Scotland, Liz Truss finally arrived back home, her new home, 10 Downing Street. As the foreign minister until this week, she's been focused on challenges much further afield like Afghanistan and Ukraine. But standing outside the famous black lacquer door Tuesday afternoon, she promised her time in power would include an ambitious domestic agenda.

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PRIME MINISTER LIZ TRUSS: We will transform Britain into an aspiration nation with high-paying jobs, safe streets, and where everyone everywhere has the opportunities they deserve. I will take action this day and action every day to make it happen.

MARX: But amid a massive energy crisis in Britain, in the next few days, she must prioritize policies with giant governmental firepower, aiming to stave off disaster for millions of households facing record high heating bills. In his own farewell speech from the same spot several hours earlier, her predecessor and political ally, Boris Johnson, warned there would be challenges ahead.

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BORIS JOHNSON: This is a tough time for the economy. This is a tough time for families up and down the country. We can and we will get through it. We will come out stronger the other side.

MARX: Truss has earned a reputation throughout her political career as a savvy operator rather than a strong public speaker. But she is known, like Boris Johnson, for her boosterism, and that was on full display in her first address to the nation.

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TRUSS: What makes the United Kingdom great is our fundamental belief in freedom, in enterprise and in fair play. Our people have shown grit, courage and determination time and time again. We now face severe global headwinds caused by Russia's appalling war in Ukraine and the aftermath of COVID. Now is the time to tackle the issues that are holding Britain back.

MARX: Those issues she alluded to may be long standing and complex to resolve, but in the short term, she enters office at a time of crisis. And after months of government inaction, British citizens will want positive action more than mere optimism. For NPR News, I'm Willem Marx in London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Willem Marx