Who is Liz Truss? From anti-Thatcher protests to bid to become next Tory PM

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has her eye on the top job.

In her youth, Liz Truss marched side-by-side with left-wingers to demand the ousting of Margaret Thatcher.

Now, she is now seen by her supporters as the heir to the Iron Lady’s throne - and one of the former Tory leader's biggest fans.

The highest office in the land is now within grasping distance for the foreign secretary and south west Norfolk MP.

Ms Truss will face former Cabinet colleague Rishi Sunak in a ballot of party members after seeing off rival Penny Mordaunt.

Her journey to the top of the Tory party and her Brexiteer support is a far cry from her beginnings.

Ms Truss was born to what she describes as a 'left wing' family, voted to remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and originally joined the Conservatives after a brush with the Liberal Democrats.

Now the free-marketeer who became only the UK’s second female foreign secretary last year at the age of 46, is aiming to convince party members to hand her the top job.

Rishi Sunak is current front-runner to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative party leader Credit: PA

Who is Liz Truss?Liz Truss was born in Oxford, to left-wing voting parents.

Her father was a maths professor and her mother was a nurse.

Her family moved to Paisley, near Glasgow, when she was four.

As a child she was brought up on anti-Thatcher demonstrations, and was a Liberal Democrat for a brief period in her youth.

It was only later that she became interested in right-wing politics and the Conservative Party.

Her mother, a nurse and a teacher, took a young Ms Truss to marches for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1980s and to “peace camp”.

Aged four, she moved to Paisley in Scotland, where she has recalled yelling a slogan that perhaps no other Tory Cabinet minister has ever yelled before.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been accused of trying to emulate Margaret Thatcher with photo opportunities Credit: Rob Pinney/PA

“It was in Scottish so it was ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, oot, oot, oot,” she has told the BBC.

But Ms Truss also had an early “fascination” with Mrs Thatcher, saying that she was around eight when she agreed to play her during a mock school election. “I got no votes,” she conceded.

Ms Truss says her father, a mathematics professor, has long struggled to comprehend her move to conservatism, believing, perhaps wishfully, she is a “sleeper working from inside to overthrow the regime”.

The family upped sticks to Leeds, where Ms Truss attended the Roundhay state secondary school before studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University.

There she became active in student politics, first with the Liberal Democrats - even once espousing an anti-monarchist sentiment.

She is married to husband Hugh O'Leary, whom she met at the 1997 party conference. The couple have two teenage daughters.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss taking part in Britain’s Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate Credit: Jonathan Hordle/ITV/PA

What did Liz Truss do before politics?

Truss worked as an economist for Shell and Cable and Wireless and was then a deputy director for right-of-centre think tank Reform.

Ms Truss worked as an accountant for Shell and Cable & Wireless but her heart was in politics, though she suffered the setbacks of two failed electoral bids.

How did she get into politics?

After the unsuccessful runs for the Tories in Hemsworth in 2001 and Calder Valley in 2005, she was elected as a councillor in Greenwich in 2006 before becoming deputy director of the right-of-centre Reform think tank two years later.

But she was selected as the candidate for the Tory safe seat of South West Norfolk after making it on to David Cameron’s A-list of priority candidates.

She entered Parliament after winning in the 2010 general election by a comfortable majority of more than 13,000 votes.

Her candidacy narrowly survived an attempt by traditionalist members of her local Tory association to deselect her after it emerged she had an affair with married fellow Tory MP Mark Field.

During her early days in Parliament she co-authored the Britannia Unchained book alongside Thatcherite future Cabinet colleagues Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab.

It set out proposals to strip back regulation and encourage innovation, but caused controversy with a claim that British workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”.

Two years after entering Parliament, Ms Truss was part of the Government, being made an education minister in the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition.

After clashes with Lib Dem deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg, she was promoted to environment secretary in 2014.

She spent a year as justice secretary before heading to the Treasury as chief secretary and then leading the Department for International Trade.Ms Truss abandoned her remainer position to become a strong defender of Brexit.

Liz Truss has vowed to cut taxes immediately Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

She then inherited the role of Foreign Secretary, after Mr Raab was moved aside in the wake of his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

In the role, she angered the EU with tough talk proposing legislation threatening to potentially break international law over the Northern Ireland Protocol.While she oversaw the successful release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori from Iranian detention where other ministers had failed, she was criticised for perceived self-promotion.Ms Truss was mocked by critics over photo ops, especially abroad, that bore a resemblance to Mrs Thatcher’s escapades.She donned military gear and perched in a tank for pictures during a visit to Estonia, echoing an image of Mrs Thatcher in a tank in West Germany in 1986.

And her choice of Russian hat on a visit to Moscow in February emulated Mrs Thatcher’s fashions three decades earlier.

What is her stance on tax?

She has pledged to “start cutting taxes from day one”, reversing April’s rise in national insurance and promising to keep “corporation tax competitive”.

Where does she stand on the Rwanda asylum policy?

She backs the policy and said she has worked closely with the Home Secretary on it.

What is her stance on defence spending?

The Foreign Secretary has pledged to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030 and strengthen the intelligence services.

What is her view on housing policy?

She would scrap what she calls “Stalinist” housing targets in favour of tax cuts and deregulation.

How did Truss vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum?

Remain, but she has since embraced Brexit.

What is her stance on climate change?

Is she committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050? Yes, but she would pause green levies on domestic energy bills.


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