Who Is Liz Truss?

The Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss, known as Liz Truss, served a brief term as prime minister of the United Kingdom. She was appointed to the position on Sept. 6, 2022, and announced that she was stepping down on Oct. 20, 2022.

In her role as prime minister, Truss oversaw the government of the U.K., including the civil service and the treasury in her joint roles as the minister for the civil service and first lord of the treasury, respectively. Truss was also minister for the union, charged with ensuring that the government works on behalf of the entirety of the U.K.

Truss succeeded former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who served in the position from 2019 to 2022. She was succeeded by Rishi Sunak, who took over after Truss resigned in October 2022. Truss first entered Parliament in 2010 and is a member of the Conservative Party. She is the third female to serve as the U.K.’s prime minister.

Key Takeaways

  • Liz Truss was the prime minister of the United Kingdom, serving in this position for a brief period starting Sept. 6, 2022, before announcing her resignation on Oct. 20, 2022.
  • Truss is a member of the Conservative Party, although in her early life, she was an outspoken member of the Liberal Democrats.
  • Prior to her election to prime minister, Truss held leadership positions in a variety of parts of U.K. government.
  • From 2021 until 2022, Truss was secretary of state for foreign, commonwealth, and development affairs.
  • Truss is known for “Trussonomics,” a set of economic policy beliefs largely aligned with Reaganomics.

Early Life and Education

Truss was born in Oxford, England, in 1975 to a family that was politically left-wing, or liberal. Her father was a mathematics professor, and her mother was a nurse. Early in life, Truss and her family moved to Paisley, Scotland, and then to Leeds, England. Truss and her family were politically active throughout.

Truss attended Merton College, Oxford, receiving a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics. At this time, Truss was an active member of the Liberal Democrats Party and became known for a speech in 1994 at the age of 19 in which she called for the abolition of the monarchy. After graduating, she joined the Conservative Party following a trip to newly free eastern Europe in 1990.

Following college, Truss worked as a commercial manager at oil and gas company Shell PLC (SHEL) and as economic director at telecommunications firm Cable & Wireless Communications Ltd. She was also deputy director at the Reform Research Trust.

Liz Truss is the third-ever female prime minister of the U.K.

Political Career Prior to Prime Ministership

Early Political Roles

Truss first ran as a parliamentary candidate in 2001, when she was the Tory candidate for Hemsworth, West Yorkshire. She was defeated in this election and again in a similar one in Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, in 2005. However, in 2006, she won election as a councilor in Greenwich, London.

By 2010, Truss had gained the attention of Conservative Party leader and future Prime Minister David Cameron, who advocated for her in her bid to be Conservative MP for South West Norfolk. Truss won the election despite the news emerging that she had an affair with a fellow Tory politician years earlier. In 2012, Truss gained attention for being a co-author of Britannia Unchained, a conservative political treatise that criticized British workers for laziness and called for improvements in education, among other things.

Cabinet Minister

In the years following her 2010 electoral victory, Truss attained a number of additional and increasingly prominent appointments. In September 2012, she was appointed parliamentary undersecretary of state for education and childcare, her first cabinet minister appointment. In this position, Truss proposed a reform to Britain’s A-Level qualification exams and led a campaign to improve British math standards.

From 2014 to 2015, she served as secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs. She acknowledged the impact of climate change and launched a long-term strategy to boost the U.K.’s bee and pollinating insect population.

From July 2016 until June 2017, Truss was lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice, the first woman to hold either position. In these positions, Truss drew criticism in 2016 for what some called a failure to adequately defend a group of judges who came under attack by other politicians and media outlets regarding a ruling pertaining to Brexit. Following the criticism, Truss then became chief secretary to the treasury in 2017, a move seen by some as a demotion. She served in this position until July 2019. Truss supported Johnson in his bid for the position of prime minister in 2019.

Following his ascent to prime minister, Johnson appointed Truss the secretary of state for international trade in 2019. She also received a joint appointment as minister for women and equalities that year. In these positions, Truss championed her support of free trade by introducing the Trade Act 2021 in Parliament, which established post-Brexit implementation of international trade agreements.

Most recently prior to her election to the position of prime minister, Truss was secretary of state for foreign, commonwealth, and development affairs from Sept. 15, 2021. She became the U.K.’s chief negotiator with the European Union (EU) in December 2021.

Election to Prime Minister

On July 7, 2022, Johnson announced that he would resign as prime minister following a period of personal and political scandals. The Conservative Party engaged in a leadership election over the following two months, and Truss eventually beat rival Sunak in early September 2022 following several rounds of voting among members of Parliament. She was officially appointed prime minister on Sept. 6, 2022.

Policy Positions

Truss is known for her support of free market principles and her traditionally liberal views on economic policy. She originally campaigned for the “Remain” side in the 2016 EU membership referendum but later said she supported the Brexit position. In her work in foreign policy, Truss developed a hawkish reputation, particularly for her dealings with Russia. Truss has supported efforts to reduce the impact of climate change, calling for a doubling down on the U.K.’s commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Truss announced the Energy Price Guarantee shortly after becoming prime minister and amid anticipation of significant cost-of-living crises across Europe. The Energy Price Guarantee caps the price per unit for domestic energy supplies, putting a significant cost to the U.K. government of potentially up to £200 billion ($223.2 billion).

‘Trussonomics’

Truss’ approach to economic policy has earned the nickname “Trussonomics” from some analysts for its apparent similarities to Reaganomics, the policies favored by U.S. President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Reaganomics were notable for significant tax cuts and a decrease in social spending along with an increase in military spending. Proponents of Reaganomics suggest that its policies will have a trickle-down effect in which tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals will eventually benefit less wealthy taxpayers.

In September 2022, Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng announced sweeping tax cuts and increases in government borrowing. The British pound fell to its weakest level on record compared to the U.S. dollar following the announcement. Following pushback from Conservative Party lawmakers and the declining pound, the government announced on Oct. 3, 2022, that it would no longer plan to abolish the top income tax rate for high earners, previously a key component of the initial economic plan. On Oct. 14, 2022, Truss fired Kwarteng and further reversed course from her initial plan, saying that she would not block an increase in corporate taxes. Kwarteng was replaced by Jeremy Hunt, a political moderate.

Brief Term as Prime Minister

Following just 45 tumultuous days in office, Truss announced on Oct. 20, 2022, that she would step down from her role as prime minister. Truss had trouble justifying the firing of Kwarteng, given that she had also been a vocal advocate of the tax cut plans that roiled the markets and sank the pound. In an attempt to reassure the markets, Kwarteng’s replacement Hunt eliminated nearly all of Truss’ proposed tax cuts and limited the scope of the Energy Price Guarantee plan.

Having lost support within Parliament and the Conservative Party, Truss disclosed her intention to resign, making her the shortest-serving prime minister in the history of the U.K. Her departure set the stage for an emergency election to determine her replacement. Just a few days after Truss’ resignation, the Conservative Party announced that Sunak, a former banker, would take over as prime minister.

Opposition parties had called for a general election to be held right away, criticizing the shuffling of Tory politicians in and out of the top leadership role without allowing the public to have its say. Since the Conservative Party maintains the strongest presence in Parliament, its leader automatically becomes prime minister, and only members of the party were entitled to vote on who would replace Truss as prime minister. Sunak emerged as the winner of the leadership contest as the only candidate to receive the backing of 100 lawmakers required to reach a potential runoff.

Despite serving as prime minister for such a brief period, Truss is eligible to receive annual payments of £115,000—known as the Public Cost Allowance (PDCA)—for the remainder of her life. Opponents have called on Truss not to accept the allowance given her short time in office.

What is Liz Truss’ family background?

Liz Truss was born in Oxford in 1975 to a father who taught mathematics at the University of Leeds and a mother who worked as a nurse.

Where is Liz Truss from?

Truss is originally from Oxford, England. Her family moved to Scotland early in her life and then eventually settled more permanently in Leeds.

What is Liz Truss known for?

Truss is best known for being the prime minister of the United Kingdom, a position she held staring Sept. 6, 2022. Truss announced on Oct. 20, 2022, that she would step down from the role. Prior to serving as prime minister, she spent 12 years in Parliament and a variety of governmental positions. She is the leader of the U.K.’s Conservative Party.

Why did Liz Truss resign her role as U.K. prime minister?

After only a brief term in office, Truss announced that she would be stepping down from the position of prime minister. The resignation came after the mini-budget proposed by Truss, which included aggressive tax cuts, contributed to a drop in the value of the British pound and a decline in the U.K. financial markets.

The Bottom Line

Liz Truss was appointed prime minister of the United Kingdom on Sept. 6, 2002, succeeding Boris Johnson. On Oct. 20, 2022, she announced that she was stepping down from the role, making Truss the shortest-serving prime minister in the nation’s history. Rishi Sunak took over as prime minister following Truss’ resignation.

Truss is a member of the Conservative Party and has held parliamentary or cabinet positions in the U.K. since 2010. Politically, she is known for her support of free market principles, her hawkish approach to foreign policy, a series of crusades in favor of education reform and reduced taxes, and her belief in “Trussonomics,” a view of economics akin to supply-side or trickle-down economics.

Article Sources
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