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Who is Liz Truss? Britain’s next prime minister is well-liked by her party – but what about the voters?

As a child, Liz Truss marched in protests against Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. As an adult, she admires Britain’s first female leader – and now she is set to step into No 10 Downing Street with Thatcherite zeal to transform the UK after winning the race to succeed Boris Johnson .

The party said Truss, Britain’s incumbent foreign secretary, won about 57% of the vote among Conservative Party members, compared with about 43% for treasury head Rishi Sunak.

Truss, 47, will become Britain’s third female prime minister, after Thatcher, who was in power from 1979 to 1990, and Theresa May, who held the office from 2016 to 2019.

Party members accepted Truss’ oath to cut taxes and red tape and maintain loyal British support for Ukraine. But to critics, she is an inflexible thinker whose right-wing policies will not help Britain weather 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 college days, says she’s less conservative than a “radical” who – like Thatcher – wants to “prevent interference state intervention” into people’s lives.

“I expect a lot of fireworks, and a lot of controversy and a lot of action,” he said.

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‘Stubborn, resolute and outspoken’

Born in Oxford in 1975, Mary Elizabeth Truss was the daughter of a mathematics professor and a nurse who took her to anti-nuclear and anti-Thatcher protests as a child, where she recalls having shouted: “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie – out, out, out!”

In a 2018 speech, she said she began developing her own political views early on, “arguing against my socialist parents in leftist household ours.”

After attending public high school, Truss went on to Oxford University, where she studied philosophy, politics and economics – the degree chosen by many aspiring politicians – and was president of the university branch of the University of Oxford. Liberal Democratic Party. Economic hub Lib Dems advocates constitutional reform and civil liberties, and Truss is an avid member, pasting “Free Weed” posters calling for marijuana to be discredited and debating in a speech demanding the abolition of the monarchy.

Littlewood, who was a member of the Oxford Lib Dems and now heads the Institute for Economic Affairs, a free-market think tank, remembers Truss as “stubborn, resolute and outspoken.”

“You never doubt she’s on the side of an issue or a person,” he said.

The man with short dark hair and wearing an unbuttoned white shirt smiled and gestured with two thumbs to supporters behind him.
Some say that Rishi Sunak’s disloyalty to Johnson caused the former treasurer to lose leadership. (Rui Vieira / The Associated Press)

Anti-Brexit but calls himself ‘European’

After Oxford, Truss joined the Conservative Party “when it was clearly out of fashion”, she later said.

She worked as an economist for the energy company Shell and the telecommunications company Cable and Wireless, and for a center-thinking organization while engaging in Conservative politics and espousing views. of the Thatcherite free market. She ran unsuccessfully for Parliament twice before being elected to represent the South West Norfolk seat in eastern England in 2010.

She founded the Free Enterprise group of Thatcherite Tory legislators, who produced “Britannia Unchained,” a famous political treatise that included the claim that British workers were “amongst the lousy idlers.” best in the world.”

In Britain’s 2016 referendum on whether to leave the European Union, Truss supported the “remain” losing side, although she said she had always been a skeptic about the euro. nature. Since the vote, she has won over Brexiteers with her zero-tolerance approach to the EU.

She became judicial secretary, but was demoted by May to a more junior role in the Treasury in 2017. When Mrs May was ousted for her repeated failure to break the political deadlock over Brexit , Truss was an early supporter of Johnson’s replacement. Upon winning, Johnson became Truss’ commerce secretary, a role she has used Instagram to gain worldwide recognition, seal post-Brexit trade deals and raise profile. his profile.

A black and white sign with a photo of former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson was ousted after months of controversial revelations, including his parting with members of his caucus during the COVID-19 lockdown. (Kirsty Wigglesworth / The Associated Press)

Contradictory remarks as foreign secretary

In September 2021, she was appointed foreign minister, Britain’s top diplomat. Her performance drew mixed reviews. Many praised her resolute response to the invasion of Ukraine and her assurance of the release of two British nationals imprisoned in Iran, where her predecessors had failed.

But EU leaders and officials who hoped she would bring a softer tone to Britain’s relationship with the bloc have been disappointed. Amid the controversy over trade, Truss has introduced legislation tearing up parts of the UK-EU binding divorce agreement that both sides have signed. In response, the 27-nation bloc is taking legal action against Britain.

Truss’ loyalty to Johnson, who is still loved by many Tories, also earned her a leadership position. Many party members see Sunak’s decision to quit Johnson’s cabinet in July as a mark against him. Truss isn’t resigning, saying she’s a “loyalist” – although she has flirted with party members for months at “fizz with Liz” events to build support for a leadership bid. potential leader.

Britain’s large constituency is likely to prove a more difficult audience to win. Times are tough and are only getting worse as inflation soars and Britain’s cost of living crisis deepens. Truss’ focus on stimulating the economy through tax cuts is unlikely to bring much relief in the short term.

And it didn’t take her long to convince voters that she was on the right track. The next national election must be held in two years.

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