Liz Truss’ political journey to 10 Downing Street


For fans of Truss, his campaign was built on long-held instincts and heartfelt beliefs. (Queue)


The UK’s next prime minister, Liz Truss, takes office as a traditional low-tax conservative eurosceptic promising to boost economic growth.

Her stance is the opposite of how she started out, as a Liberal Democrat-supporting daughter from a family of progressives, who opposed the monarchy and Brexit.

Her self-proclaimed political “journey” throughout her life has drawn criticism that she lacks genuine conviction and prioritizes power over ideology.

But his outspoken style, calls for a smaller state and advocacy of free trade proved popular with rank-and-file conservatives.

Truss, 47, has campaigned on a platform of tax cuts and bulldozing bureaucratic “orthodoxy”, particularly at the Treasury where she once worked.

“For a party that has taken a fairly populist direction in recent years, it has managed to present itself as more authentic, more ordinary,” said Tim Bale, from Queen Mary University of London.

“She stands out as – despite having been in government for eight years – almost outside of this establishment and therefore the kind of person you can rely on to represent you against this so-called ‘blob’.”

Thatcher’s heir?

For fans of Truss, his campaign was built on long-held instincts and heartfelt beliefs.

“She’s always been outspoken. She’s always been a troublemaker,” said Mark Littlewood, head of the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank and former member of the University of Oxford’s Liberal Democrat club with Truss.

“You really have to understand Elizabeth Truss as a sort of free-market liberal,” he told AFP.

Truss’s rise to become the UK’s third female Prime Minister has inevitably led to comparisons to the first: Margaret Thatcher.

As foreign minister for the past year, Truss has been pictured riding a tank and sporting a Russian fur hat in Moscow, just like the conservative icon.

But she brushed off any suggestion of a deliberate visual ploy.

Yet, like the ‘Iron Lady’, she faces the daunting task of lifting the UK out of decades-high inflation, a deepening cost of living crisis and industrial action. .

Financial Times political commentator Robert Shrimsley believes Truss is not the heir of Thatcher but of Boris Johnson’s doctrine of ‘cakeism’ – being ‘pro having cake and pro eating it’.

She was, he writes, the choice of a conservative party which “does not like hard choices” unlike its beaten rival, former finance minister Rishi Sunak, who campaigned for fiscal discipline.

“Human Hand Grenade”

As Foreign Secretary, Truss led a series of trade deals following the UK’s divorce from the European Union.

Truss called her initial opposition to Brexit a mistake, despite growing evidence of its economic costs, and repositioned herself as a champion of the cause.

Problems with new trade deals in Northern Ireland are causing friction with Washington and Brussels and could prove problematic early in his term.

On the international stage, she also forcefully confronted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But her initial encouragement of the British to fight there was slapped down by the military establishment and fueled criticism that she lacked judgment.

Johnson’s former senior aide Dominic Cummings likens her to a “human hand grenade”, and some MPs have accused her of excessive self-promotion.

Truss admits to not being the “most adept presenter”. She is still being mocked online for a bizarre speech she gave as environment minister in 2014 offering impassioned support for British cheese and pork.

Lib Dem to Tory

Truss grew up first in Scotland and later in an affluent suburb of Leeds in northern England.

Her mother was a nurse, teacher and nuclear disarmament activist who took her to protests, and her father was a left-wing math teacher.

Some have referred to his former international business department as the “department for Instagramming Truss” due to his prolific output on social media.

During the Conservative leadership campaign, Truss criticized his Leeds school for encouraging “low expectations”.

It prompted a backlash from teachers, contemporaries and locals who accuse him of fabricating an “insulting” backstory to curry favor with the conservative right.

Despite alleged school failures, she went to Oxford, where – like Sunak – she graduated in philosophy, politics and economics.

At Oxford, she was president of the liberal democrat branch of the university. At the party’s national conference in 1994, she gave a speech calling for the abolition of the monarchy.

“I was a bit of a controversial teenager,” Truss admitted during the campaign.

By her own admission, her switch to the Conservatives shocked her parents, but she says her beliefs have evolved.

A recent Times profile said her parents were appalled as she rose through the conservative ranks and was unable to discuss their daughter with others.

After college, Truss worked in the energy sector, including for Shell, and telecommunications before entering politics a decade later.

She was a local councilor in south-east London for four years and became an MP in 2010, part of a new generation of women and minority candidates encouraged by then-party leader David Cameron .

He faced protests from the local party in the South West Norfolk farming constituency, after it emerged Truss had had an extramarital affair with a Tory colleague.

His detractors have been dubbed the “turnip Taliban”.

Truss’ marriage to an accountant survived the episode. They have two daughters.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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