Liz Truss: Everything You Need To Know About The UK’s Shortest-Serving Prime Minister

Her left-leaning upbringing might surprise you…

Liz Truss affair

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |
Updated on

After Boris Johnson resigned as Prime Minister, all anyone could talk about was who was going to become the next PM. Now, just six weeks later, we're having the same conversations about Liz Truss. Over 100 MPs sent letters of no confidence to 1922 committee chair Graham Brady, with the intention to force Truss out of parliament. Today, she resigned as prime minister.

When was Liz Truss elected?

In September, after almost two months of running against Rishi Sunak, the MP for Southwest Norfolk, Liz Truss, was announced as the leader of the UK, beating her opponent 57.4% to 42.6% of the vote.

In her victory speech, Truss paid tribute to Sunak: 'Its been a hard fought campaign,' she said of their battle. 'I'd also like to thank our outgoing leader my friend Boris Johnson,' she added. 'Boris you got Brexit done you crushed Jeremy Corbyn. You rolled out the vaccine... and stood up to Putin.'

Outlining her goals for her time in leadership, Truss told her party: 'I know that our beliefs resonate with the British people. In freedom in the ability to control your own life. In low taxes. In personal responsibility. And I know that’s why people voted for us in such numbers...As your party leader I intend to deliver what we promised.'

How long was Liz Truss prime minister?

Exactly six weeks since the Queen appointed Liz Truss prime minister, she announced her resignation. Truss said that a new Tory leadership will now take place, to be completed over the course of one week. She is now the shortest-serving prime minister in British history.

Who will be the next prime minister?

A tory leadership contest will now take place, with Rishi Sunak expected to run alongside Penny Mourdant - but as of yet nothing is confirmed. It has been confirmed that Jeremy Hunt will not run.

Will there be a general election?

Kier Starmer called for a general election today and yesterday, as has Nicola Sturgeon. But officially, the Conservatives have two more years before they need to call a general election. Many experts state that the arguments against calling a general election are impossible to ignore after so much chaos, and Tory voting polls down the most they've been in 11 years, but as of yet it hasn't been confirmed whether or not there will be a general election.

Here's what you need to know about Liz Truss's background as a politician

She planned to help with energy bills as PM - but plunged us into economic chaos instead

For many, the biggest issue in the UK right now is the seemingly uncontrollable cost of living crisis. With annual household bills expected to reach over £4,200 by January, Boris Johnson said he was 'absolutely certain' the next Prime Minister would help people pay their bills. Yet, Liz Truss has previously rejected financial help for unprecedented bill increases as 'Gordon Brown economics'.

'The first thing we should do as Conservatives is help people have more money of their own,' she claimed. 'What I don't support is taking money off people in tac and then giving it back to them in handouts.'

'I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy,' Truss said in her acceptance speech. 'I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills and dealing with the long term issues we have on energy supply  and I will deliver on the national health service. I will deliver for our country.'

A bold plan it was, the biggest tax-cutting package for 50 years, all benefiting the wealthiest in society, 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.

Before PM, she was the minister for Women and Equalities

In the time that Truss has been the minister for Women and Equalities, more than half of women have admitted they believe women’s equality is in danger of going back to the 1970s at work, home and in society, according to a Guardian survey.

In September 2021, Truss was accused of treating the position like a ‘side hustle’ by the women and equalities committee. The committee also accused the government of regressing ‘equal rights after decades of progress’ through their lacklustre approach.

Her expenses as an MP were questioned this year

The former Foreign Secretary’s expenses were under the microscope at the start of this year after she hosted a £3,000 work lunch at a private members club, with sources claiming she ‘refused to consider anywhere else’.

Her voting record on LGBTQ+ rights is mixed

In terms of her voting record on LGBTQ+ rights, in May 2013, Truss was one of 117 Tories to vote in favour of marriage equality, then in July 2019 she voted to permit same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. In September 2020, she was criticised by trans rights campaigners when she announced reforms to the Gender Recognition Act would not include a right to self-ID for trans people.

In 2021 Truss announced the government’s proposals for a conversion therapy ban, with a draft bill in spring 2022. Many critics called it a ban ‘in name only’, with major loopholes remaining, for example, talking therapies for over-18s will not be outlawed. Conversion therapy for transgender people will also not be included in any ban.

She seemingly clashed with Joe Biden

Ahead of the United Nations summit in New York, Liz Truss appears to have extremely opposing views to US president Joe Biden. Biden said he was 'sick and tired' of 'trickle down' economics that don't work as the benefits only reach the richest people in the country.

After, Liz announced a tax-cutting package that benefited the rich more than the rest of the population and lifted the cap on bankers' bonuses despite massive outrage among MPs, economists, and unions.

Where did Liz Truss grow up?

Truss has been accused of misrepresenting her background. She was born in Oxford, moved to Paisley in Scotland at four-years-old, before growing up in Leeds where her father got a job as a uni professor. She went to Roundhay School in a suburb of the same name, saying of the experience: ‘I was struck by the lip service that was paid to equality by the City Council while children from disadvantaged backgrounds were let down. While we were taught about racism and sexism, there was too little time spent making sure everyone could read and write.’

Leeds council deputy leader James Lewis responded: ‘As someone else who attended Leeds City Council schools in the 1980s and early 1990s, I think it’s sad that someone wants to score cheap political points in London by talking down a whole generation of pupils and teachers who struggled through the last period of Conservative austerity cuts.’

Who is Liz Truss’ husband? And does she have children?

Truss lives in Norfolk with her husband and accountant Hugh O’Leary and their two daughters Liberty and Frances. Truss married O’Leary in 2000 and they are still together despite her affair with Mark Field.

O’Leary and Truss met at the Tory Party Conference in 1997 and went on their first date ice skating afterwards, where he sprained his ankle. ‘I am really happily married,’ she told You Magazine in 2019.

Who are Liz Truss’ family?

Liz Truss parents John Kenneth and Priscilla Mary Truss are both left-wing and have different political views to their daughter. Her father was a university maths professor and her mother worked as a nurse and anti-nuclear campaigner. In an interview with The Times, Truss revealed that her father had refused to campaign for her when she stood for election.

While studying at philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Oxford, Truss became the president of the Liberal Democrats society and joined the Conservatives in 1996 when her views became more right-wing, despite reportedly growing up going on marches with her parents yelling: ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, out, out, out!’

This is how Liz Truss voted on other key issues

Abortion: Liz Truss voted to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland but sat out of votes on telemedicine, buffer zones and abstained from an Abortion Bill introduced in 2017 to decriminalise abortion in England and Wales.

Assisted dying: Liz Truss was absent for the 2015 vote on the Assisted Dying Bill.

Climate change: Liz Truss generally voted against measures to prevent climate change (see her full voting record don environmental issues here).

Education: In December 2020, LizTruss voted to raise the UK's undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000 per year.

Scotland: She has generally voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Income tax: Liz Truss has almost always voted for raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax. However, she has almost always voted against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000.

You can find her full voting record here.

Her fans call her Margaret Thatcher 2.0

Dubbed the ‘true blue’ candidate of the leadership race for sitting firmly on the right wing of the Conservative party, Truss is considered the economic descendant of the Iron Lady and plans to cut tax immediately.

‘Under my leadership, I would start cutting taxes from day one to take immediate action to help people deal with the cost of living,’ she said – with no mention of rising food prices, energy bills, transport costs or affordable housing.

She's was backed by Penny Mordaunt

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who ran in the leadership race against Truss, gave her support to Liz Truss and called her the 'hope candidate'.

'Seeing her over the last few weeks has made me want to help her, to help her win, to help build the team we need to win the country, and to give ourselves as a party and as a nation the pride and confidence we need to reach our full potential,' she said. 'I’ve seen enough to know who the person I’m going to put my faith in – and that is Liz Truss...She’s a great person, she’s a great politician, she’s a great patriot and I’m proud to call her my friend.'

She went viral with a speech about cheese – yes really

For many people on the internet, the first time they really took notice of Liz Truss was when she gave a cheese-related speech during the Conservative Party Conference in 2014. Discussing food trade in the UK, Truss declared: ‘We import two-thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace.’  See the impassioned performance here.

She had to defend her use of a private jet to Australia

In January this year, the Labour Party accused her spending 'disgusting amounts of public money' using the government's private jet for her trip to Australia, which The Independent estimated to cost half a million pounds.

However, the Foreign Office said the trip was within the rules of the ministerial code and Truss told reporters it enabled her to do 'work overseas which is ultimately delivering for the British people'.

She’s really committed to Boris Johnson’s beliefs

Unlike Rishi Sunak, Truss didn’t resign from Johnson’s government and has been a long-term supporter of his leadership. When asked why she didn’t jump ship, she told reporters: ‘I’m a loyal person. I’m loyal to Boris Johnson. I supported our prime minister’s aspirations and I want to deliver the promise of the 2019 manifesto.’

She was a key Brexit negotiator

Originally, Truss voted remain in the 2016 EU referendum. But she soon changed her stance and backed Brexit after the vote went the other way for the benefit of Britain’s ‘economic interest’ and ‘social reform'. After that, she relentlessly pioneered to get us out of the EU in her roles as Trade Secretary and Foreign Secretary.

She had an affair with former Tory MP Mark Field

Truss hit the headlines in 2009 after it was revealed she had an affair with a married Tory MP: Mark Field. The fling is thought to have lasted about 18 months and the scandal caused a deselection vote which almost prevented her from becoming MP in her current Norfolk constituency.

‘Ms Truss is too much damaged goods,’ the Norfolk Tory councillor Cliff Jordan problematically said at the time while the Sunday Times painted her as the ‘naughty Tory candidate’.

Is Liz Truss on Twitter?

Yes, on Twitter she is @trussliz and has over 263k followers.

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