LIZ TRUSS has won the Tory leadership contest and will be the UK’s next Prime Minister.

The Foreign Secretary defeated rival Rishi Sunak, winning by 81,326 votes to 60,399.

It brings to an end the gruelling and often vicious two-month-long battle to replace Boris Johnson. While the contest is over, the party remains divided.

The margin of her victory, 57 per cent to 43%, was closer than her campaign team would have hoped. 

Of the 172,437 eligible voters, turnout was 82.6%, which means less than half the party, 47.16%, voted for Ms Truss. 

She is now the fourth Tory prime minister in just six years.

In her victory speech, she praised her predecessor and ruled out an early general election

After thanking her family, her friends, her supporters, and Mr Sunak she added: “I also want to thank our outgoing leader, my friend, Boris Johnson,” she told Tory MPs and activists in Westminster's QEII centre. 

She continued: “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.”

There was a slightly awkward pause before the crowd politely applauded.

Ms Truss said: "I know that our beliefs resonate with the British people, our beliefs in freedom, in the ability to control your own life, in low taxes, in personal responsibility.

"And I know that's why people voted for us in such numbers in 2019 and as your party leader, I intend to deliver what we promised those voters right across our great country.

"During this leadership campaign, I campaigned as a Conservative and I will govern as a Conservative.

"My friends, we need to show that we will deliver over the next two years.

"I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy.

"I will deliver on the energy crisis dealing with people's energy bills, but also dealing with the long term issues we have on energy supply.

"And I will deliver on the national health service

"But we all will deliver for our country. And I will make sure that we use all the fantastic talents of the Conservative Party, our brilliant Members of Parliament and peers, our fantastic councillors, cur MS, our MSPs, all of our councillors and activists and members right across our country.

"Because my friends, I know that we will deliver, we will deliver, we will deliver and we will deliver a great victory for the Conservative Party in 2024." 

Tweeting congratulations to his triumphant challenger, Mr Sunak urged the party to come together. 

He said: “Thank you to everyone who voted for me in this campaign.

“I’ve said throughout that the Conservatives are one family.

“It’s right we now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon congratulated Ms Truss on the victory and said she hoped to "build a good working relationship" with the new Tory leader. 

However, she called on her to "freeze energy bills for people and businesses, deliver more cash support, and increase funding for public services."

Mr Johnson will remain as Prime Minister until tomorrow morning when - following a goodbye speech from Downing Street at around 8.30am - he will travel to Balmoral to offer his resignation to the Queen. 

He also his tweeted his congratulations on Ms Truss's "decisive win."

"I have been proud to serve as leader of the Conservative Party for the last three years, winning the biggest majority for decades, getting Brexit done, overseeing the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe and giving vital support to Ukraine," he said.

He added: "Congratulations to @trussliz on her decisive win.

"I know she has the right plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, unite our party and continue the great work of uniting and levelling up our country.

"Now is the time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100 per cent."

Ms Truss will also travel to Aberdeenshire tomorrow to be received by the increasingly frail 96-year-old Queen.

After Mr Johnson has resigned, the monarch will ask Ms Truss to form a government. 

When the 47-year-old gets into Downing Street later on in the afternoon, around 4pm, she will need to act fast to deal with eyewatering hikes in energy bills, runaway inflation and a cost of living crisis that threatens to leave millions struggling.

She will also inherit the war in Ukraine. Though here we can expect a fair amount of continuity with her predecessor.

Ms Truss has made clear that her first call as Prime Minister will be to President Zelensky.

There will likely be no formal policy announcements until tomorrow’s address from the steps of No 10.

Her new cabinet will also be announced tomorrow. It is thought that Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will become chancellor, James Cleverly will be the next foreign secretary and Suella Braverman will take over from Priti Patel as home secretary.

It is widely expected that Alister Jack will remain as Secretary of State for Scotland. 

HeraldScotland:

Responding to the news, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Ms Truss was “not on the side of working people,”

He told journalists: “We’ve heard far more from the latest prime minister about cuts to corporation tax over the summer than we have about the cost-of-living crisis, the single most important thing that’s bearing down on so many millions of households.

“That shows not only that she’s out of touch, but she’s not on the side of working people.

"So she needs to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, she needs to deal with the fact the NHS is on its knees, and she needs to deal with the collapse of law and order.

“There can be no justification for not freezing energy prices. There’s a political consensus that needs to happen.

"She needs to ask the question how she’s going to pay for that. Labour made it clear, it needs to be a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

“So, she needs to show that she actually understands and can meet the challenges that are there after 12 years of failure of this Tory Government.”

Reports this morning suggest that Ms Truss could freeze energy bills ahead of the rise in the price cap. 

It is due to jump to £3,549 from October 1. 

The plan is to effectively freeze the cap at current levels, and reimburse the difference to suppliers.

READ MORE: Truss promises energy crisis plan within a week if she becomes PM

The IFS suggest the package could cost around £100bn. 

Writing in today’s Financial Times, Mr Kwarteng stressed that the next government will behave in a “fiscally responsible” way.

He strongly suggested the new Prime Minister would be willing to borrow to fund any package of help.

He said the UK does not need “excessive fiscal tightening”, pointing to the UK’s ratio of debt to GDP compared with other major economies.

“The OECD has said that the current government policy is contractionary, which will only send us into a negative spiral when the aim should be to do the opposite.

"But I want to provide reassurance that this will be done in a fiscally responsible way. Liz is committed to a lean state and, as the immediate shock subsides, we will work to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio over time,” he wrote.

Tory grandee Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown urged his colleagues to support the winner of the contest and whatever plan they announce.

“I think what the public want to see is a government delivering on their behalf in every respect, and, above all, having a plan to deal with this very serious situation,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“And I would hope that all my colleagues when Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, whichever of the two of them it is, announces a plan, that they will get behind it and support it.”

Meanwhile, Labour and the SNP are currently preparing for a snap general election. Both parties have moved to get candidates in place ahead of a vote.