Who is Liz Truss? From anti-Thatcher protests to the steps of Downing Street

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is the widely-tipped frontrunner to succeed Boris Johnson. Credit: PA

As the new prime minister, Liz Truss will enter No 10 on Tuesday having won the backing of Tory party members by presenting herself as an avid-Brexiteer who is the free market-loving heir to Margaret Thatcher.

Winning the support of Conservative activists in the leadership vote a day earlier was the final move in an extraordinary series of political transformations throughout her life.

Despite being billed by Ms Truss’s allies as the heir to the Iron Lady’s throne, she marched in her youth side-by-side with left-wingers to demand the ousting of Mrs Thatcher and supported remaining in the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

The Conservatives were not even her first political party, having initially had a brush with the Liberal Democrats and using a speech at their 1994 conference to back a motion calling for the abolition of the monarchy.

At the age of 47, Ms Truss will take over the reigns from Boris Johnson as the third female prime minister in the United Kingdom’s history, having beaten her long-term Brexiteer rival Rishi Sunak in the poll of Tory members.

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

But the free-marketeer who became only the UK’s second female foreign secretary last year at the age of 46, has spent eight weeks over the summer successfully convincing first her fellow MPs, and then party members, that she was the right person to succeed Boris Johnson.

Rishi Sunak was the early front-runner to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative party leader. Credit: PA

Who is Liz Truss?Liz Truss was born in Oxford in July 1975, 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”.

After the family's move to Scotland, she was taken on demonstrations where she 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 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.

During her early career, she said 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 Reform 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.

Ms Truss abandoned her remainer position to become a strong defender of Brexit following the vote in 2016.

She spent a year as justice secretary before heading to the Treasury as chief secretary and then leading the Department for International Trade.

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

But while her fortunes were rising in Westminster, her reputation as a speechmaker faltered.

It was in the environment brief that she gave an often-ridiculed address to the Tory conference where she discussed her left-to-right conversion in a pantomime manner.

Her tone switched to a serious one when decrying the state of play that saw the UK importing two thirds of its cheese. “That is a disgrace,” she insisted, deadpan.

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 opportunities, 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 key issues?

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”.

Rwanda asylum policy: She backs the policy and said she has worked closely with the home secretary on it.

Defence spending: The foreign secretary has pledged to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030 and strengthen the intelligence services.

Brexit referendum: Ms Truss voted and campaigned for Remain, but she has since embraced Brexit.

Climate change: Ms Truss has said she is committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050, but would pause green levies on domestic energy bills.

How quickly did she become PM?

Liz Truss has had one of the quickest journeys in modern political history from starting as an MP to becoming prime minister.

She first entered Parliament at the 2010 general election, when she won the seat of South West Norfolk with 48% of the vote, and went on to retain it in 2015, 2017 and 2019, increasing her share of the vote on each occasion.

It has taken Ms Truss just 12 years to go from being a new MP to becoming the new prime minister.

Only three other politicians in modern times have made the same journey in a shorter period, all of them Conservatives: Boris Johnson and John Major, both of whom took 11 years, and David Cameron, who needed just nine years.

Tony Blair took 14 years from becoming an MP in 1983 to entering Downing Street in 1997.

Other prime ministers have typically needed around two decades or more to climb to the top.

Theresa May and Harold Wilson both took 19 years, while Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher took 20, with Gordon Brown (24) and Jim Callaghan (31) taking even longer.

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