Liz Truss to lead Tories and Britain as the next PM

Rishi Sunak fails to make it to 10 Downing Street

Liz Truss: A darling of the Conservative Right-Wing (Getty Images)

Chris Mason (BBC News)
London, September 5, 2022

Liz Truss has risen from the obscurity and loneliness of being an opposition Councillor on a Labour-dominated local authority to the biggest job of them all.

There is more than a smidgen of ambition splashing around Westminster, and more than a few around here allow themselves to dream of becoming prime minister.

For Liz Truss, that ambition becomes a reality.

Darling of Brexit backers

The BBC had earlier described Liz Truss as ‘A Remain supporter who has become the darling of the Brexit-backing Conservative right-wing.’

“A former Liberal Democrat activist, who marched against Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, but who now claims to be the keeper of the Thatcherite flame. It is fair to say that Mary Elizabeth Truss has been on a political journey. She may not be a household name like her predecessor at Number 10 – and she was not the first choice of Tory MPs to replace Boris Johnson. But her promise to return to fundamental Conservative values – cutting taxes and shrinking the state – proved to be exactly what party members, who got the final say over who took over from Mr Johnson, wanted to hear.”

I first came across her 13 years ago when I was a Political Reporter for BBC Radio 5 Live.

She served on Greenwich Council, in south-east London, and fought an unwinnable parliamentary seat in the 2001 general election. At the 2005 general election, she came a distant second in a Labour-leaning marginal. Yet ahead of the 2010 general election, she had become the Conservative candidate for a safe Tory seat, South West Norfolk.

But all hell broke loose when an affair she had had with then Conservative MP Mark Field was exposed.

Very little if any of Honeymoon for Liz Truss (Getty Images)

Political Survivor

It became the basis of a tussle between David Cameron’s modernising zeal and his desire to reshape the image of the Party, and local activists who felt emasculated and hoodwinked.

But Liz Truss was to prove, as she has done repeatedly since, that she is a political survivor. She emerged from that skirmish to become a Conservative MP and now rises to be Prime Minister, having been a minister for a decade.

One long-standing former Greenwich Councillor recalled to me that back in her Town Hall days Liz Truss was notably quiet during full Council meetings, but got stuck into her committee work.

She has talked about it quite pointedly – telling the Conservative Home website that being on the council’s planning committee amounted to “hours of my life I will never get back.”

But these apprenticeships for high office are admired by her supporters and helped her relate to the voluntary party in a way Rishi Sunak simply couldn’t.

He was never a Councillor and landed the plum Conservative seat of Richmond, in the Yorkshire Dales, without having to try to persuade the unpersuadable in seats glued to their Labour loyalties.

Perhaps their contrasting CVs go some way to explaining their very different approaches to the campaign: Liz Truss relishing the scrap, Rishi Sunak appearing more hesitant at times – and at others more uncomfortable – to get stuck into the noisier, sometimes grubbier side of politics.

But elation and back stories only get you to now. Liz Truss is confronted by the gargantuan task of government.

Things will feel different. Very different. They are bound to – Boris Johnson was the very definition of primary colours, performance prime minister. But she inherits the same challenges he was confronted by.

Governing when millions are confronted by unpayable bills. Governing during a war in Europe and the aftermath of a pandemic. And governing a party that’s already been in power for 12 years.

As I have reported, we can expect to see Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly – but these appointments won’t be announced until Ms Truss formally takes office.

Then there will be Prime Minister’s Question Time, on Wednesday.

The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s team are well aware of not making the same mistake – as they saw it – as Rishi Sunak did in his BBC debate with Liz Truss in late July, when he was accused of “mansplaining.”

They are hopeful that Sir Keir’s experience of taking on Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey, during the Labour leadership contest, proves that he can be effective in debate without being accused of patronising.

The Energy Bill

We can expect an announcement from the new government on help with energy bills within days, likely on Thursday.

There will be very little if any honeymoon period for Liz Truss, as the country clamours for answers to huge questions the caretaker government of Boris Johnson in recent months felt unempowered to take on.

As you can read from my colleagues, there is inflation, Ukraine, energy security, the NHS with winter approaching, the contrails of Brexit and… a general election that isn’t far away.

The Conservatives have consistently been some way behind Labour in the polls all year. And there has to be an election by January 2025 at the latest.

Politics is being reset, but it will continue to be competitive, noisy and unpredictable.

While many things change, some never do.

Chris Mason is the Political Editor of BBC News. The above article is from the BBC News website.

Ardern greets Truss

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern congratulated Liz Truss on her election as Conservative Party leader, and pending appointment as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

“New Zealand has an exceptionally strong relationship with the United Kingdom based on our shared values, history and culture. As Secretary of State for Trade and then Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss has been a close friend of New Zealand. She has been a staunch supporter of the UK’s ‘tilt’ to the Indo-Pacific and played a central role in advancing our historic Free Trade Agreement,” she said in a statement issued in Wellington.

Ms Ardern said that New Zealand is looking forward to working closely with Ms Truss and her Cabinet to progress a range of shared interests, including ratification of the New Zealand-UK FTA, implementing the extension to the youth mobility scheme, climate change, the Pacific, and supporting Ukraine.

“I am looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Truss and building on the strong relationship between New Zealand and the UK. I know that a range of my Cabinet colleagues is hoping to meet with their new British counterparts soon as well,” Ms Ardern said.

She also acknowledged outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“New Zealand has enjoyed excellent relations with the United Kingdom while Boris Johnson was Prime Minister. Under his leadership,  we have cooperated with the UK to provide military support to Ukraine; supported the UK’s ‘tilt’ to the Indo-Pacific; and signed our New Zealand – UK Free Trade Agreement,” she said.

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