Who is Liz Truss? Thatcher’s heir intent on shaking up Britain?

Liz Truss. Photo: Facebook

Like a child Liz Truss took part in demonstrations against Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. As an adult, she came to admire Britain’s first female leader – and now she’s about to enter No. 10 Downing Street with Thatcher’s zeal to transform the United Kingdomwrites the Associated Press.

Trotthe foreign secretary of Great Britain, was announced as winner on Monday in the race for deputy to the infamous Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the country. The party said Truss won the vote of around 57% of Conservative members, compared to around 43% for former finance chief Rishi Sunak.

The 47-year-old Truss will get up the third female Prime Minister on Great Britain after Thatcher, who ruled from 1979 to 1990, and Theresa May, who held office from 2016 to 2019.

Conservative Party members accepted Truss’ promises to cut taxes and red tape and continue Britain’s firm support for Ukraine. Some see echoes of the Iron Lady – as Thatcher was known – in Truss’ vision of “web of freedom”binding the democracies of the world.

For critics, Truss is an inflexible ideologue whose right-wing policies will not help Britain overcome the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, Brexit and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mark Littlewood, a libertarian commentator who has known Truss since their university days, thinks Britain’s new leader is less a conservative than a “radical” who – like Thatcher – wants “to roll back state intervention” in people’s lives.

“I expect a lot of fireworks and a lot of arguments and a lot of action”he commented.

Born in Oxford in 1975, Mary Elizabeth Truss is the daughter of a mathematics professor and a nursewho took her to anti-nuclear and anti-Thatcher protests as a child, where she recalls shouting:

“Maggie, Maggie, Maggie – out, out, out!”

In a 2018 speech, she said she began developing her own political views early, “arguing against my socialist parents in our left-wing household.” The family lived in Paisley, Scotland, before moving to Leeds in northern England, where Truss attended a state high school – something that set her apart from many of her privately educated Conservative colleagues.

During the leadership campaign, Truss emphasized its relatively humble origins. But she angered some former classmates and teachers when she said students at her school were “frustrated by low expectations, poor educational standards and lack of opportunity”. Alumni of the school include academics, judges and several other Members of Parliament.

Truss went on to Oxford University, where he studied philosophy, politics and economics – the degree of choice for many aspiring politicians – and was president of the university branch of the Liberal Democratic Party. The economically centrist Liberal Democrats support constitutional reform and civil liberties, and Truss was an enthusiastic member, putting up posters Make the grass legal’ who called for the decriminalization of marijuana and argued in a speech for the abolition of the monarchy.

Littlewood, who was a fellow of the Oxford Liberal Democrats and now heads the Institute for Economic Affairs, a free-market think tank, remembers Truss as “stubborn, determined and outspoken.” He emphasized:

“You never doubted what the position was her about a matter or a person.”

After Oxford, Truss joined the Conservative Party – “when it was decidedly unfashionable, she said later. She worked as an economist for the energy company Shell and the telecommunications firm Cable and Wireless, as well as for a centre-right think tank, while becoming involved in Conservative politics and supporting Thatcher’s free market views. She was a local councilor in London and ran unsuccessfully for Parliament twice before being elected to represent the East Anglia seat of South West Norfolk in 2010.

She won the Conservative safe seat after a setback along the way – some local Tories were outraged when it was revealed she had an affair with another MP when they were both married to other people. Trot has won over its criticsand the marriage survived her. She and her accountant husband Hugh O’Leary have two teenage daughters.

Trots founded the Free Enterprise group of Thatcher’s Tory lawmakers who created “Britain Unchained”a political tract which famously included the claim that British workers were “one of the worst bums in the world”.

David Laws, a former cabinet minister who worked with Truss in government a decade ago, recalled her as energetic and “mind-bogglingly ambitious”comparing her in his memoirs to “a young Margaret Thatcher at speed”.

Truss landed her first Cabinet job as food and environment secretary in 2014, making the biggest impression with a highly mocked speech in which she thundered that she ‘disgrace’ for Britain to import two-thirds of its cheese.

In Britain’s 2016 referendum on whether to leave the European Union, Truss backed the losing “remain” side, despite his view that it had always been a natural Eurosceptic. After the vote, she won over Brexiteers with her uncompromising approach to the EU. She became justice secretary but was demoted to a more junior role in the Treasury by May in 2017. When May was ousted due to the multiple its failure to break the political deadlock over Brexit, Trot was Boris Johnson’s first backer to replace her. When she won, Johnson made Truss trade secretary, a role in which she made her way around the world on Instagram, signing post-Brexit trade deals and raising her profile.

In September 2021, she was appointed Foreign Secretary, Britain’s chief diplomat. Her performance drew mixed reviews. Many have praised her tough response to the invasion of Ukraine, and she secured the release of two British citizens jailed in Iran, where her predecessors had failed. But the leaders and employees of Wellthe european unionwho hoped it to bring a softer tone to Britain’s relations with the blocwere disappointed.

Amid trade disputes, Truss has introduced legislation to tear up parts of the binding UK-EU divorce deal signed by both countries. In return, the 27-nation bloc is taking legal action against Britain.

Trot sometimes assumed that the frequent comparisons with Thatcher are sexist, but in other cases she encouraged them. She posed in a British Army tank in Eastern Europe, evoking the image of Thatcher during the Cold War. In a televised leadership debate, Truss wore a ribbon blouse just like the one Thatcher wore.

Underscoring her humble origins, she has drawn comparisons with grocer’s daughter Thatcher, said Victoria Honeyman, associate professor of British politics at the University of Leeds – “the working-class girl did well.”

Truss’s own personality is hidden behind a stern public persona. Her friends say she has a funny side that is rarely seen in public, and enjoys karaoke and blasting tunes by Taylor Swift, Whitney Houston and Destiny’s Child.

Truss’ perceived loyalty to Johnson, who remains popular with many Tories, also helped her win. Many party members pointed to Sunak’s decision to leave Johnson’s cabinet in July as a mark against him. Trot didn’t resign when he said he was “loyal man” – despite wooing party members for months at events “champagne with liz”to build support for a potential leadership bid.

Conservatives embraced Truss’s optimistic message of liberation through smaller government, reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s boosterism for “morning in america”.

The wider British electorate is likely to prove a more difficult audience to win over. Times are tough and getting tougher as inflation rises and Britain’s cost of living crisis deepens. Truss’s focus on stimulating the economy through tax cuts unlikely to provide much short-term relief.

Center-left commentator Will Hutton, writing in The Observer newspaper, opined that the economic ideas of Truss are “pernicious nonsense…stubbornly anti-European, obsessed with tax cuts, believing nameless regulations shackle business”. Trots, however, does not have much time to convince voters that he is on the right track. The next national elections are due in two years. Littlewood stated:

“Will Liz be able to say in 2024, ‘Are you richer now than you were when I became Prime Minister?'” Probably. But this is not obvious to happen.”

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