Liz Truss: Who is the foreign secretary who hopes to become the Tory leader?

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss formally launched her bid to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and Conservative leader on Thursday morning, pledging to put the economy on an ‘upward trajectory’ by the next general election in 2024 .

“We need to make it clear to the British public that our economy will not get back on track overnight,” she said candidly. “Times are going to be tough, but I know I can put us on an upward trajectory by 2024.”

Positioning herself as an economic libertarian, she outlined plans to reverse ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s increases to corporation tax and national insurance, pledged to raise defense spending to 3 % of GDP by the end of the decade and endorsed Home Secretary Priti Patel’s widely hated policy. Rwanda deportation plan for asylum seekers.

Interestingly, she explained her refusal to join the mass resignations in protest at Mr Johnson’s premiership by saying she was “a loyal person”, a clear dig at Mr Sunak, whose decision to resigning alongside Health Secretary Sajid Javid sparked the deluge of resignations that ultimately led to his downfall.

She has certainly been a prominent supporter of Mr Johnson in the past and her campaign has already attracted the backing of hard-line Johnsonites Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

That said, Ms Truss has previously made no secret of her ambitions, hosting ‘fizz with Liz’ social gatherings for her colleagues and Monday surgery in the House of Commons tea room open to MPs with grievances to air. , making it clear that she sees herself as a leader. Material.

As Mr Sunak faces awkward questions over exactly when he set up his campaign website and is criticized for backing Mr Johnson throughout the Partygate furore only to then backfire, he leads nonetheless still racing ahead of junior Trade Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Ms Truss, who clearly has her work cut out for her if she hopes to beat them in Downing Street.

Mary Elizabeth Truss was born in Oxford on July 26, 1975, her left father John Kenneth Truss a professor of pure mathematics at the University of Leeds and her mother Priscilla Mary a nurse, teacher and member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The family moved to Scotland when Ms Truss was four and attended West Primary School in Paisley, Renfrewshire and then Roundhay School, a comprehensive school in Leeds.

At 18, she studied politics, philosophy and economics at Merton College, Oxford, where she was, surprisingly, chair of the Liberal Democrats at Oxford University.

She switched sides and joined the Conservative Party in 1996, the same year she graduated and became a commercial director at Shell, then worked as economics director at Cable & Wireless and became a qualified management accountant. .

Ms Truss married another accountant, Hugh O’Leary, in 2000 and the couple have two daughters.

She entered politics professionally when she stood as the Conservative candidate for South West Norfolk in the 2010 general election, winning the seat and holding it ever since.

At Westminster, she held several positions: Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Childcare and Education; Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; State Secretary for Justice; Lord Chancellor; Chief Secretary to the Treasury (in which she was replaced by Mr. Sunak); Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Chamber of Commerce.

Liz Truss on her way to Downing Street

(Reuters)

Earn the nickname “the human hand grenade” among Whitehall insiders for her habit of blowing things up, before 2022 she was best known for a widely ridiculed rant about British cheese imports at the 2014 Conservative Party Conference and for her failed response to vicious post attacks. -Brexit of the right-wing press against High Court judges, who The daily mail had tagged “Enemies of the People” on a November 2016 homepage.

Silly statements like describing the country as “a nation of Uber-riding, Deliveroo-eating, Airbnb-ing freedom fighters” during a speech on the gig economy also derailed his mission to be taken over. serious, as did a blunder earlier this year in which she confused the Baltic Sea with the Black Sea.

In the wake of such setbacks – and in the interest of better controlling her public image – Ms Truss has become increasingly active on social media, extensively documenting her jet-setting diplomatic trips around the world and posting countless photos of herself signing deals and smiling civil servants, even posing in an army tank in a direct nod to Margaret Thatcher, clearly a role model.

She found herself facing a veritable military crisis in February as Russia’s war in Ukraine became a brutal reality and traveled to Moscow to meet her Kremlin counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, hoping in vain to convince him to stand down. withdraw from the abyss and leave with nothing more. only a few plum photographs of herself in Red Square sporting a furry hat (great for Instagram, at least).

Her continued condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s actions – which has even seen Russian officials explicitly cite comments she made in a BBC interview as the reason for her decision to place the country’s military on high alert – saw her enjoy growing popularity among conservatives. of Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who declined to run for party leadership.

Ms Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat have also drawn on their own military credentials in the current contest, although the economy appears to be the defining issue at the moment, rather than the ongoing bloodshed in Eastern Europe.

Despite her background in mathematics, a subject on which she has published several books, this reformed Remainer faces a difficult task to convince her party that she is the only person who can lead Britain through its economic slump and finally get Brexit done – and not just the Johnsonite continuity candidate.

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