Liz Truss is a political shape-shifter. Now she’s ready for her toughest transformation yet

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But after a decades-long transformation that has seen his personal views change dramatically, many will wonder what exactly Britain’s new leader stands for.

Many who have observed her over the years wonder if she has sincere beliefs or if she simply approves of what is most practical at the time.

Unlike her cabinet colleagues who were privately educated, Truss went to a public school in the city of Leeds, Yorkshire, and later secured a place at Oxford University. There she was an active member of the Liberal Democrats, a centrist opposition party that has long been an effective opponent of the Tories in large parts of England.

During his tenure as a Liberal Democrat, Truss supported the legalization of cannabis and the abolition of the royal family – positions that are in stark contrast to what most would consider mainstream conservatism in 2022.

Truss says she joined the Conservatives in 1996, just two years after giving a speech at a Liberal Democrat conference calling for an end to the monarchy.

Even when she was a Liberal Democrat, her peers questioned her sincerity and spotted traits they say they still see in her today.

“I honestly think she was playing gallery at the time, whether she was talking about decriminalizing drugs or abolishing the monarchy,” Neil Fawcett, a Liberal Democrat adviser who campaigned with Truss in the media, told CNN. the 1990s. “I think she’s someone who plays gallery with whatever audience she talks to, and I really don’t know if she ever believes what she says, then or now. “

Truss certainly continued to capture the attention of his audience. Since joining the Conservatives and becoming a legislator, she has fervently supported almost every ideology imaginable. She has served loyally under three Prime Ministers in several different ministerial posts, most recently as Foreign Secretary.

Most notably, she backed staying in the European Union during Britain’s 2016 referendum. At the time, Truss tweeted that she backed those who wanted to stay in the bloc because “it’s in the economic interest of Britain and means we can focus on vital issues”. domestic economic and social reform.

Truss now backs Brexit, saying his pre-referendum fears that it could cause “disruption” were misguided.

Truss greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a G7 summit in Liverpool last December.
Recently, the new leader even went so far as to restore her Brexiteer credentials to the point of refusing to call French President Emmanuel Macron an ally. When asked if he was friend or foe on a live broadcast, she replied that “the jury is out”.

There is a debate within the Conservative Party about the reality of this support for Euroscepticism. Some believe that Truss was reluctantly following orders from the government, which opposed Brexit, in 2016. Others find this argument inconceivable.

Anna Soubry, a former Conservative cabinet minister and anti-Brexit campaigner, told CNN that Truss “had the most coverage among us supporting Brexit. His memoir at the time included the farming community, who supported Brexit as a whole. sat around the cabinet table and heard everyone’s reason for doing what they did and can’t believe she changed her mind that much.”

On the other hand, Gavin Barwell, who was former Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief of staff, said that after the Brexit vote, “Truss made the decision very quickly that there was no room for a compromise. If you were in for it, you had to do it fully. And as the standoff dragged on, she argued that a binary choice presented itself between leaving without a deal and canceling the Brexit, and that the latter would be catastrophic for the government.

Truss has been compared to Margaret Thatcher, who also wore a fur hat while on an official visit to Moscow.

The closer she got to power, the more Britons wondered what a premiership of Truss would look like. She campaigned to lead the most conservative programs. She pledged to cut taxes from day one, tear up EU regulations and encourage private sector growth with low corporate taxes. She said she would not impose a windfall tax on energy companies despite their huge profits during the current cost of living and energy crisis.

Truss faces the challenge of charting a course for the Conservative Party, which has been in power for 12 years and has been bitterly divided over Brexit for half that time.

These types of policies were, of course, red meat for the Tory MPs who ultimately voted for her. And while some of those who know her wonder how much she actually believes in them, there is no doubt that she will go to great lengths to implement them and make their impact felt immediately.

It’s possible that a Truss government will ultimately look a lot like Johnson’s, but with a greater focus on lower taxes, shrinking government and, potentially, an even tougher line on Europe.

Critics said the tax cuts she promised would lead to even higher inflation and interest rate hikes amid an expected recession. Questions have also been raised about a promise made by Truss to cut public sector wages, which would have saved the public $8.8 billion. Its economy has been questioned by critics, and uproar over perceived insensitivity to public sector workers has forced Truss to turn back.

Julian Glover, a journalist and speechwriter to former Prime Minister David Cameron, was an academic contemporary of Truss and remembers traits in her that are still recognizable today: determined but unfocused.

“We only crossed paths briefly and she was in a different year than mine, but despite that, she stands out in my memory as some sort of strange, fuzzy force, extremely in favor of action and change,” Glover told CNN. “It was always hard to see the purpose of it all, or where it might lead, except that she would be at the center of it all.”

Roger Crouch, who succeeded Truss as president of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats, told CNN he remembered a woman “determined, resolute and ready to challenge orthodox and prevailing wisdom, often masculine.

Unlike many who knew Truss in her youth, Crouch, who is now a teacher, thinks her views haven’t changed much since the 90s. “Liz has always been more of a privatizing, libertarian liberal, so there has a consistent line of thought there. I remember one student focus group where she was advocating privatization of streetlights.”

Those who know Truss say that while her views have changed over the years, she has always been determined and determined.

Prime Minister Truss will struggle to unite her party, in power for 12 years and bitterly divided over Brexit for six of them.

She will also have to lead the country through its worst cost of living crisis in decades. Inflation has reached its highest level in 40 years, energy bills are expected to rise by hundreds if not thousands of pounds a year, and the UK is expected to slip into recession before the end of the year.

In July, inflation topped 10% for the first time in 40 years, largely driven by rising energy, food and fuel costs. According to the Bank of England, inflation will climb to 13% by the end of the year. The central bank also predicted that the UK would enter recession before the end of 2022.

Millions of Britons fear grim choice this winter as costs soar

Analysts are skeptical that Truss’ tax cut policies will do much to help citizens. The Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent research group specializing in public finance, said last month that leadership candidates promising both tax cuts and lower public spending “must recognize this even greater than usual uncertainty in public finances”. .”

This winter, many families will have to make a grim choice between heating their homes and eating. And for a party that has been in power for more than a decade, it’s hard to blame it on anyone else.

His supporters see the chance for a fresh start in Truss. They believe that with Brexit less in the spotlight and the scandals that led to Johnson’s downfall soon to be a distant memory, the party will focus on staying in power and winning a fifth election consecutive general.

After a fierce battle between Truss and Rishi Sunak (left), some wonder if the new prime minister will be able to keep the party in power in the next election.

For its detractors, it is more complicated. During this leadership race, those who have backed his rivals feel they have been unfairly maligned simply for contesting Truss being handed the keys to Downing Street.

As far as running the country goes, that could be a problem for Truss. She had the support of fewer MPs than her rival Rishi Sunak at the start of the competition and the bad blood between the two camps worsened over time.

And for all Truss’ determination and determination, she takes control of a party torn apart by infighting and suffering in the polls during a domestic crisis. So she might find her key objective – to make her party eligible for the next general election after so many years in power – too difficult a task to achieve.


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