As Liz Truss Resigns As PM, We Look Back At Everything She Did – Or Rather, Didn’t – Do For Women

Truss broke more records than any leader, but not the ones she wanted to - and the rest of us will pay for it.

Liz Truss

by Georgia Aspinall |
Published on

It’s been exactly six weeks since Liz Truss was appointed the new UK prime minister, one of the Queen’s last official acts before her death, and today she has resigned. It comes after more than 100 Conservative MPs filed letters of no confidence in the leader.

Historically, leaders have a one-year grace period following their premiership before a vote of no confidence can take place, but with more than half of the Tory party expressing a wish for Truss to step down, Sir Graham Brady – chair of the 1922 committee – was able to overturn the rule.

It’s one of many record-breaking moments Liz Truss has become responsible for that she, one can assume, would rather have not. She is the shortest serving prime minister ever, beating George Canning who served for 119 days in 1827 but only due to his untimely death. She has also recorded the worst favourability rates for any leader since polling began, currently down to -70 according to YouGov data from 16 October. The same data also shows 77% of Britons disapprove of the government, the worst Tory record in 11 years of tracking.

On the economy, she managed to plunge the UK to the brink of recession in just one month, her radical borrow-heavy policies to cut taxes for the wealthiest in society causing the pound to plunge to its lowest value against the US dollar since 1985. It was the biggest tax-cutting package for 50 years, subsequently causing interest rates to spike to their highest rate since the 2008 financial crisis (the package has since been reversed). Now, with inflation also rising faster than it has in 40 years, Britain is worst suffering of any G7 country when it comes to mounting prices.

It's certainly been a history-making run then, one that the rest of us will pay the price for. But did she manage to do anything positive? Maybe slip in some wins for women, at least? As only the third female prime minister in history, one would hope that her personal understanding of misogyny (compared to male counterparts) would ensure some sense of urgency around improving rates of domestic violence or abysmally low rape convictions, perhaps a focus on closing the gender pay gap or breaking the glass ceiling – she was previously minister for women and equalities after all, well-versed in the most prominent issues affecting women today.

Truss certainly vowed to make women safer: during her leadership campaign she said she would criminalise street harassment and create a national domestic abuse register that would require those convicted to inform the police of arrangements with new partners and their children, the most violent offenders potentially tagged. As it stands, the government have not made any decisions on the suggested policies, still consulting on the introduction of the Public Harassment Act.

Much like with Thatcher, Truss has taught us that having a woman in power doesn't necessarily mean she'll let the ladder down for others.

When it comes to the gender pay gap, there was a point it seemed Truss’s policies could actually worsen it. ITV reported earlier this month that Truss had announced a new policy that would increase the threshold of what constitutes a small business from companies with 50 employees to 500 - meaning 40,000 businesses would be exempt from reporting their gender pay gap. Following those reports, the Government Equalities Office categorically denied regulations were changing. An Equality Hub spokesperson told Grazia, ‘The law has not changed. The threshold for employers reporting gender pay gap data remains at 250 or more employees.’

But Truss’ economic policies have certainly worsened life for women. Tax cuts overwhelmingly benefiting high earners – which men are nearly five times more likely than women to be – caused mortgage rates to spike dramatically, in tandem with wider borrowing costs, as markets judged the UK to be on a riskier path in the wake of the mini-budget. The Women’s Budget Group has already warned that Britain is an unaffordable place for women to own a home or rent, but this policy would only make it harder for women – who typically still pay more for mortgages and often find it more difficult to secure one – to get on the housing ladder. You can only imagine the impact on women living in dangerous housing situations.

Thank God her plans for saving money, which essentially meant radically cutting public services, never materialised – but that’s not to say they won’t in the face of the recession she’s helped throttle us towards. Austerity always hits the vulnerable hardest, with London School of Economics reporting that the last round of austerity cuts increased the number of women living in poverty, relative to men. That means more women living in dangerous situations, likely with children they’re struggling to care for already under the cost-of-living crisis.

And what of Truss’s childcare policies? Any attempts to fund the catastrophically high-cost childcare system in the UK? Well, the former leader initially suggested that the best way to tackle an already underfunded childcare system in Britain was to increase the ratio of children-to-staff in nurseries – a move widely condemned by experts for safety reasons. When Grazia approached the Department for Education on whether that policy was going ahead, a spokesperson said: ‘We are exploring a wide range of options to make childcare more accessible and affordable for parents, but no decisions have been made.’

Alas, much like with Margaret Thatcher, we can take from Truss’s leadership the lesson that just because a woman is in power doesn’t mean she’ll let down the ladder for others – or even care to make their lives better.

What Liz Truss did do, as she told us repeatedly when questioned about her competence as a leader, is introduce the Energy Price Guarantee that supports families with rising energy bills – but then again, she also appointed Jeremy Hunt as chancellor, who u-turned on the two-year scheme to ensure it ends in April 2023. She did scrap the rise on national insurance, but with so many U-turns it’s hard to be sure that anything she put forward in her brief time in office will stick. As with everything that has occurred under Liz Truss’s government, it’s almost too chaotic to follow.

That’s the theme her time in office will be remembered for then: chaos. A tornado of leadership that disappeared as fast as it arrived.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us