|Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|
6 September 2022 – 25 October 2022
|Preceded by||Boris Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Rishi Sunak|
|Leader of the Conservative Party|
5 September 2022 – 24 October 2022
|Preceded by||Boris Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Rishi Sunak|
|Member of Parliament|
for South West Norfolk
|Assumed office |
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Christopher Fraser|
Mary Elizabeth Truss
26 July 1975
|Political party||Conservative (since 1996)|
|Liberal Democrats (until 1996)|
|Education||Merton College, Oxford (BA)|
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Ministry and term
Mary Elizabeth Truss (born 26 July 1975) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from September to October 2022. On her fiftieth day in office, she stepped down amid a government crisis, making her the shortest-serving prime minister in the history of the United Kingdom. Truss previously held various Cabinet positions under prime ministers David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, lastly as foreign secretary from 2021 to 2022. She has been the member of Parliament (MP) for South West Norfolk since 2010.
Truss studied philosophy, politics and economics at Merton College, Oxford, and was the president of Oxford University Liberal Democrats. In 1996, she joined the Conservative Party. She worked at Shell and Cable & Wireless and was the deputy director of the think tank Reform. After two unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the House of Commons, she was elected as the MP for South West Norfolk at the 2010 general election. As a backbencher, she called for reform in several policy areas including childcare, mathematics education and the economy. Truss founded the Free Enterprise Group of Thatcherite Conservative MPs and wrote or co-wrote a number of papers and books, including After the Coalition (2011) and Britannia Unchained (2012).
Truss was the parliamentary under-secretary of state for childcare and education from 2012 to 2014, before Cameron appointed her secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs in a cabinet reshuffle. Although she advocated for the UK to remain in the European Union, Truss supported Brexit after the outcome of the 2016 referendum. Following Cameron's resignation in 2016, his successor Theresa May appointed her as secretary of state for justice and lord chancellor, making Truss the first woman to serve as lord chancellor in the office's thousand-year history. After the 2017 general election, Truss was made the chief secretary to the Treasury. After May resigned in 2019, Truss supported Johnson's successful bid to become Conservative leader and prime minister, after which he appointed Truss as secretary of state for international trade and president of the Board of Trade in July 2019; she subsequently took on the additional role of minister for women and equalities in September 2019. Johnson promoted Truss to foreign secretary in the 2021 cabinet reshuffle. During her time in the position, Truss led negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol and the UK's response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Truss defeated Rishi Sunak in the leadership election to succeed Johnson, who had resigned in an earlier government crisis. Truss was appointed as prime minister by Elizabeth II two days before the monarch's death; her government's business was subsequently suspended during a national mourning period of 10 days. In response to the cost of living and energy supply crises, her ministry announced the Energy Price Guarantee to limit energy prices for households, businesses and public-sector organisations. Her government then announced large-scale borrowing and tax cuts, which was widely criticised and largely reversed after financial instability; facing mounting criticism and loss of confidence in her leadership, Truss announced her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party. Sunak was elected unopposed as her successor, and succeeded her as prime minister. Truss remains in the House of Commons as a backbencher.
Mary Elizabeth Truss was born on 26 July 1975 at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England. She was the second child of John and Priscilla Truss (née Grasby); the year prior to Truss's birth, their first son, named Matthew, had died.[b] Truss was known by her middle name Elizabeth since early childhood, her father, a professor of pure mathematics at the University of Leeds, calling her such. After being given a badge with "Mary" on it on her first day of school, Truss had asked her teacher that it be changed. Truss later described her parents' politics as being "to the left of Labour"; her mother, a nurse, was a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. When Truss later stood for election to Parliament as a Conservative, her mother agreed to campaign with her, but her father declined to do so. Her parents divorced in 2003.
[S]he stands out in my memory as a sort of strange, unfocused force, hugely in favor of action and change ... it was always hard to see the aim of it all, or where it might lead, except that she would be at the center of it.
In 1977, Truss and her parents moved to Warsaw, Poland, but returned to Britain after John and Priscilla found it "grim". After living briefly in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, the family moved to Paisley, Renfrewshire when Truss was four years old, with Truss attending West Primary School. In 1985, they moved south to Leeds, where Truss attended Roundhay School; she later said that at the school "I saw kids ... being let down", a claim which was heavily criticised by former Roundhay pupils. When Truss was 12, she and her family spent a year in Burnaby, British Columbia, where she attended Parkcrest Elementary School whilst her father taught at Simon Fraser University. Truss praised the Canadian curriculum and the attitude that it was "really good to be top of the class", which she contrasted to her education at Roundhay. A classmate recalled Truss as being "very smart" and that she was "confident, chatty, [and] tried to get to know everyone".
Truss's parents had initially wanted her to study at the University of Cambridge, but Truss instead elected to go to Oxford in a "bout of teenage rebellion". She applied for Merton College, but was instead listed as a candidate for the all-women's St Hilda's College; she then complained to both colleges, after which she was accepted for Merton. Truss read philosophy, politics and economics, graduating in 1996. During her time at university, Truss was active in the Liberal Democrats. She became the president of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats in her first year and a member of the national executive committee of Liberal Democrat Youth and Students (LDYS) in 1995. During a previous unsuccessful bid for the LDYS executive, the party's leader, Paddy Ashdown, said Truss was "a good debater and is utterly fearless". During her time as a Lib Dem, Truss supported the legalisation of cannabis and the abolition of the monarchy, and campaigned against the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. However, by November 1995, Truss had become critical of the Lib Dems, as she "realised the Tory Party was saying quite sane things"; in her last year at the university, she resigned from the LDYS. By 1996, Truss was involved in Conservative Party politics.
From 1996 to 2000, Truss worked for Shell plc, living in Lewisham and Greenwich and qualifying as a Chartered Management Accountant (ACMA). In 2000, Truss was employed by Cable & Wireless plc and rose to the position of economic director before leaving in 2005; one of her colleagues there, George Robertson, said that Truss "had a passion for politics ... she [was] fresh minded, enthusiastic and the Tory Party needed people like that".
In January 2008, after losing her first two elections, Truss became the deputy director of Reform, a centre-right think tank, where she advocated for greater effort on countering serious and organised crime, higher standards in schools and action to tackle the UK's "falling competitiveness". She co-authored The Value of Mathematics, Fit for Purpose, A New Level, and Back To Black, and other reports.
Whilst working at Shell, Truss served as the chair of the Lewisham Deptford Conservative Association from 1998 to 2000, having been introduced to the branch by her friend and future MP, Jackie Doyle-Price. During this time, Truss met her future husband, Hugh O'Leary at a reception at the Greenwich Conservative Association. Truss unsuccessfully stood for election twice in Greenwich London Borough Council for Vanbrugh ward in 1998 and Blackheath Westcombe in 2002. The deputy leader of Greenwich Conservatives, Graeme Coombes, recalled in 2022 that "she said [in 1998] she was hoping to stand for Parliament ... she was destined for bigger and better things". However, Alex Grant, the candidate who had defeated her Truss in 2002, called her "largely invisible during the campaign". After two failed attempts running for Greenwich London Borough Council, Truss was elected for Eltham South in the 2006 council election. Truss did not seek re-election to the council in 2010, standing down the day she became an MP.
At the 2001 general election, Truss was selected for the safe Labour seat of Hemsworth, West Yorkshire, coming a distant second but achieving a 3.2 per cent swing to Conservative, which was considered "impressive". After the election, which saw the Conservatives make a net gain of just one seat and the resignation of party leader William Hague, Truss supported former defence secretary Michael Portillo's unsuccessful leadership campaign.
In January 2005, Sue Catling, the parliamentary candidate for the Calder Valley constituency, was forced to resign by the local Conservative Association after an affair with the association's chairman; Catling claimed that the members of the party that had opposed her were sexist, saying that she was "accused of everything except murder and paedophilia". Truss, who was selected as the candidate for the seat, narrowly lost to the Labour incumbent after an active Conservative campaign. Beginning in 2004, Truss embarked on an 18-month-long affair with the Conservative MP Mark Field, which ended shortly after the following year's election.
After the 2005 election, David Cameron replaced Iain Duncan Smith as leader, and Truss was added to the party's A-List; in October 2009, she was selected for the constituency of South West Norfolk by members of the local Conservative Association, winning over 50 per cent of the vote in the first round of the final against five other candidates, including future deputy prime minister Thérèse Coffey. Shortly after her selection, some members of the constituency association objected to Truss's selection because of her failure to declare her affair with Field. The Mail on Sunday was the first to report on the affair, and party members claimed to have been misled over Truss's "skeleton in the cupboard". A motion was proposed to terminate Truss's candidature; the proponents of Truss's deselection were branded the "Turnip Taliban" by Conservative Party officials and the press, including by the Mail. There was also controversy over the fact that Truss was not from Norfolk, with some in the association asking for a local candidate and saying that she had been "parachuted in". On 16 November, the motion was put to the association, with both sides making their case in front of the members, including an "impassioned" speech from Truss; following an hour-and-a-half wait, the result was announced, with the motion defeated by 132 votes to 37.
Truss was elected as an MP in the 2010 general election, amongst other Conservatives; many of the "golden generation" would later reach a high rank in government, some becoming ministers. The Conservatives did not reach an overall majority in the House of Commons, and entered into a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, with Cameron becoming prime minister. Following her election to Parliament, Truss campaigned for issues including the retention of the Tornado GR4 fleet at RAF Marham in her constituency; the replacement of the old aircraft with around 150 new F-35 strike fighters; the dualling of the A11 west of Thetford, which was completed in 2014; and preventing a waste incinerator being built in King's Lynn, Norfolk. Truss co-founded the Free Enterprise Group—a grouping of over 30 Conservative MPs—in October 2011; she had previously co-authored After the Coalition with some of the people that would later join the FEG: Priti Patel, Kwasi Kwarteng, Dominic Raab and Chris Skidmore. The book advocated for a number of policies, including a reduction in the top rate of tax to 40 pence and the introduction of a carbon tax to reduce pollution. On the publication, Truss wrote:
Our message must be that the state cannot do everything: while the government can help, it can never fully solve any individual's problems. The NHS can't keep you healthy if you don't eat or exercise properly. A teacher can't get you the grades if you aren’t prepared to work. The job centre can't find you work if you aren’t prepared to write a CV.
Another book, Britannia Unchained was published in September 2012. The book attracted controversy for claiming that "the British are among the worst idlers in the world. We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor". In 2022, Truss stated that the authors had each written a different chapter of the book; Raab had written the chapter which contained that claim.
Be good at maths.
Truss on what advice she would give to young women.
Truss soon became well-known amongst members of parliament in Norfolk for her frequent photo ops, but was well-respected amongst Conservative MPs, who recognised her as dedicated and hard-working; one of her staff members said that Truss's "attention to the local stuff was just superb". Truss advocated for more rigorous teaching in school subjects, especially mathematics, calling for maths classes to be compulsory for all students until the age of 18 and expressing concern about an overreliance on calculators; some of her earliest contributions to parliamentary discourse were on the subject of education. Truss criticised "[giving] media studies the same value as further maths" and suggested in 2011 that students should have to sit GCSEs for "five traditional academic subjects".
[Y]ou're a great minister, I loved what you did, but we really couldn't go ahead with this one. You're one of the first ministers I've appointed to do something and you've just done it.
David Cameron speaking to Truss about her childcare proposal.
In September 2012, Truss was appointed as parliamentary under-secretary of state for education, and stepped back from the leadership of the FEG, with Kwarteng taking her place. Truss was pleased with the appointment, and praised Michael Gove, the secretary of state for the department; she also formed a friendly rivalry with future health secretary Matt Hancock. In January 2013, Truss wrote a white paper—More Great Childcare—which would increase the maximum number of children childminders could look after at a time, from three to at least four, a measure intended to reduce the cost of childcare. The press was widely hostile to the plan, including The Daily Telegraph and The Times; the former claimed that prices would not fall, with the The Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee challenging Truss to demonstrate how to care for so many children on her own. Following a negative response from trade unions and childminders, the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg held a meeting with Truss, who told her that "some of this is fine", but the maximum childminder increase went "much too far", and advised her to revise the proposal; Truss ignored Clegg and pushed ahead with the plan, angering Clegg and causing him to block the proposals. Truss also announced proposals to reform A-levels by concentrating exams at the end of two-year courses, and said that the UK should attempt to "out-educate" countries in Asia.
In July, during the 2014 cabinet reshuffle, Truss was appointed secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs. Originally, Truss was to be made a minister of state, before Cameron changed his mind on the morning of the reshuffle. Truss's predecessor Owen Paterson "stormed out" of Cameron's Commons study when told he was to be dismissed; nevertheless, he told Truss "this is my phone number. Ring me any time you want help". Paterson was dismissed partially due to his his plans for a badger cull, which Truss later supported. Truss's early actions at the department included setting up a "food crime unit" to prevent incidents similar to the recent horse meat scandal, approving planning for the Thames Tideway Tunnel, and development of Flood Re. Truss was later remarked to have "[torn] the place up", turning it into an "economic department", working "in a very dispassionate, calm way". During her two years in the department, Truss launched a ten-year strategy to counter falling bee populations, approved the limited temporary lifting of an EU ban on the use of two neonicotinoid pesticides and cut taxpayer subsidies for solar panels on agricultural land. In March 2015, Truss was one of two cabinet ministers to vote against the government's proposal to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes. When she had been asked previously about the issue during a constituency meeting, Truss said "when it comes to things like this, I take a more libertarian approach ... I don't know if it's the government's role to regulate this".
At the Conservative Party conference in September 2014, Truss made a speech in which she said "we import two-thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Dis-grace" and "in December, I'll be in Beijing, opening up new pork markets." Four days after Truss delivered the speech, parts of the video were featured on the satirical panel show Have I Got News For You, with the awkward, stilted delivery leading her to be mocked; clips of the speech went viral online. During the 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union, Truss endorsed Remain, saying that the Conservatives had "a golden chance to reform Britain over the next few years" and to avoid "[spending] that time negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union". The referendum resulted in the defeat of Remain and Cameron's resignation; the home secretary Theresa May won the ensuing leadership election and subsequently became leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister.
In July 2016, Truss was appointed as secretary of state for justice and lord chancellor in the first May ministry, becoming the first female lord chancellor in the office's thousand–year history.[c] May's decision to appoint her was criticised by the minister of state for justice Edward Faulks who resigned from the government, questioning whether Truss would "have the clout to be able to stand up to the prime minister when necessary, on behalf of the judges". Other Conservative members of Parliament also criticised Truss's appointment owing to her lack of legal experience; in response, Truss's supporters accused one of the MPs, Bob Neill, of "thinly veiled misogyny".
Before Truss's arrival, the Ministry of Justice's budget had been subjected to successive deep cuts under the coalition government, affecting prisons and blamed for their rising rates of violence owing to a drop in the number of prison officers. Truss lobbied the chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond for £104 million in order to hire an extra 2,500 officers, which Hammond reluctantly delivered. In November 2016, Truss was again criticised for failing to support the judiciary after three judges of the Divisional Court came under attack from politicians and from the Daily Mail—which ran with the headline "Enemies of the People"—for ruling against the government on whether Article 50 could be triggered without Parliament's approval. A former lord chancellor, Charlie Falconer, suggested that, like her immediate predecessors, Truss lacked legal expertise, called for her to be dismissed as justice secretary as her perceived inadequate response "[signalled] to the judges that they have lost their constitutional protector". Truss denied she had failed to defend the judges, writing:
An independent judiciary is the cornerstone of the rule of law, vital to our constitution and freedoms. It is my duty as lord chancellor to defend that independence. I swore to do so under my oath of office. I take that very seriously, and I will always do so.
[T]his is a dream job for you. This job will be the making of you.
In June, following the 2017 general election, May demoted Truss from justice secretary to chief secretary to the Treasury, meaning she could attend cabinet meetings but was not a full member; Truss was enraged and called the demotion "incredibly unfair" and was "seething for a good couple of days". Despite her reduced confidence from the demotion, she bounced back and began to contribute to the department, using it "like her own personal think tank" by asking for research and advice on monetary policy. In her first few months there, she was largely left out of making decision-making processes as Hammond was "quite a closed, centrally controlling chancellor"; nevertheless, he and Truss were reported to have a good relationship. Beginning in December 2017, she developed an enthusiasm for cultivating her presence on Twitter and Instagram; Truss began to plan ministerial visits around photo ops for her social media. Some of her civil servants were reported as finding her tenure as chief secretary "exhausting", owing to her work schedule and asking them multiplication questions, a tactic she had first employed as an MP. Despite her governmental role, Truss remained relatively unknown by the public, with only seven per cent recognising her in March 2019.
In June 2018, Truss gave a speech criticising regulations that got in the way of people's lives and warned that raising taxes could see the Conservatives being "crushed" at the polls; in particular, she attacked colleagues who she said should realise "that it's not macho just to demand more money", a jibe at the defence secretary Gavin Williamson, who had mounted a largely unsuccessful campaign for an extra £20 billion for his department, which included blackmailing Truss by threatening to "write to every single British troop and tell them Liz Truss blocked your pay".[d] The speech, which also mocked Michael Gove, was criticised by Hammond, Ed Vaizey, and Gove himself; a speech she gave in November similarly joked about Matt Hancock, home secretary Sajid Javid and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt. Before May's resignation announcement on 24 May 2019, Truss had sought opinion amongst colleagues on whether she could plausibly stand, and courted media attention; as it became apparent she could not win, she ruled herself out the day after May announced her resignation, and subsequently endorsed Boris Johnson, the first minister to do so.
After Johnson became prime minister, Truss was tipped for promotion in return for her support during his leadership campaign; it was thought she might have been appointed chancellor or business secretary, but was instead promoted to the position of secretary of state for international trade and president of the Board of Trade. Following the resignation of Amber Rudd, Truss was additionally appointed minister for women and equalities in September that year. Shortly after becoming international trade secretary, Truss embarked on international trips to the US, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. On her first trip to the US, Truss met with her American counterpart Robert Lighthizer, where she gave a speech on a potential US–UK trade deal; in Australia she made unscripted comments on their free trade negotiations with the UK, both events to the dismay of Downing Street officials. Truss continued her documentation of trips through her social media.
In February 2020, a reshuffle took place following the general election which had been held in December. Truss feared that she would be dismissed after the blunders she had made on her previous international trips, but Johnson decided to keep her in post after Sajid Javid's resignation. During her time at the department, Truss became notorious for leaking information, with Dominic Cummings, Johnson's chief adviser, saying that Truss was "the only minister I shouted at in Number 10" because of her "compulsive pathological leaking". Truss's pursuit of a trade deal with the US concerned the National Farmers' Union, which worried about an influx of lower-quality food products if passed; the NFU, along with The Mail on Sunday, campaigned against such a deal that spring. The COVID-19 lockdowns eliminated international travel, with Truss attending virtual meetings; as a result, she became closer to her family.
By early 2021, Truss's attempted US trade deal was accepted as futile. Instead, she had focussed on joining the CPTPP, which necessitated free trade agreements with Australia, Japan, and New Zealand, with the Australia deal, finalised in December, described as "the hardest thing she's ever got through"; the New Zealand deal was agreed shortly thereafter. By mid-2021, she had started to ingratiate herself with the parliamentary party in the event of a leadership election. In September, plans for an National Insurance increase were opposed by Truss; Downing Street expected her resignation, but Truss later privately decided against it.
In September 2021, during a cabinet reshuffle, Johnson promoted Truss from international trade secretary to secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, replacing Dominic Raab, who had been criticised for holidaying in Crete during the Fall of Kabul; Truss became the second woman to occupy the office, and kept the post of equalities minister. Truss's early actions as foreign secretary included negotiating the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe at the UN General Assembly,[e] meeting with her Japanese, Canadian and German counterparts, mounting an unsuccessful attempt to join the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, and a visit to Estonia where, like Margaret Thatcher, she was photographed in a tank, generating both praise and mockery.
[W]ho was the person to get the job? Someone who'd been in international trade and travelled around the world for two-and-a-half years. That was a natural promotion.
In early 2022, Truss became preoccupied with a build-up of Russian troops near the Russia–Ukraine border. Truss supported a plan which declassified a large amount of intelligence on Russia, releasing it to the public for the first time to "catch the Kremlin off guard" in the event of an invasion. On 10 February 2022, she met the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, becoming the first minister to do so since the 2018 Salisbury poisonings. Reportedly a difficult meeting, Lavrov described communicating with Truss as "like talking to a deaf person". Five days later, Truss stated that the world was on the "brink of war in Europe"; this transpired in the early hours of 24 February as Russia invaded Ukraine. Before and during the immediate aftermath of the invasion, Truss strongly advocated sanctions on Russia, encouraging other G7 leaders to impose them; in March 2022, she stated that they would end only in the event of a "full ceasefire and withdrawal". Johnson praised Truss's actions, saying that "she was always terrific on Ukraine ... other governments faffed around ... she was very clear and focused".
Throughout the first half of 2022, Johnson's position as prime minister became increasingly unstable due to successive scandals damaging his government and his personal reputation, including Partygate, which resulted in he and Sunak receiving fixed penalty notices. During this time, Truss announced the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which was intended to overhaul the Northern Ireland Protocol, including measures to liberate goods produced in Great Britain from the "unnecessary bureaucracy" entering Northern Ireland; the plan was criticised by the European Commission, but was received well by the European Research Group and the DUP. Amid mounting pressure on Johnson in lieu of the Chris Pincher scandal, Sunak and Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other, with Johnson again considering giving Truss the chancellorship; he decided against it, and instead selected Nadhim Zahawi as Sunak's replacement.
On 10 July 2022, Truss announced her intention to run in the leadership election to replace Johnson. She pledged to cut taxes on day one if elected, and said she would "fight the election as a Conservative and govern as a Conservative", adding that she would also take "immediate action to help people deal with the cost of living". She said she would cancel a planned rise in corporation tax and reverse the increase in National Insurance rates, funded by delaying the date by which the national debt was planned to fall, as part of a "long-term plan to bring down the size of the state and the tax burden".
On 20 July, Truss and Sunak were chosen by Conservative MPs to be put forward to the membership for the final leadership vote. She finished second in the final MPs ballot, receiving 113 votes to Sunak's 137. In the membership vote, it was announced on 5 September that 57.4 per cent of ballots were for Truss, making her the new leader.
Main article: Premiership of Liz Truss
Main article: Truss ministry
As the elected Leader of the Conservative Party, the majority party in the House of Commons, Truss was appointed the new prime minister by Elizabeth II at Balmoral Castle on 6 September 2022. She began appointing her cabinet and other government positions on 6 September 2022. With the appointment of Kwarteng as chancellor of the Exchequer, James Cleverly as foreign secretary, and Suella Braverman as home secretary, for the first time in British history, no white men held positions in the Great Offices of State. Other key appointments included Thérèse Coffey as deputy prime minister and health secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg as business secretary, Kemi Badenoch as international trade secretary, Kit Malthouse as education secretary, Penny Mordaunt as leader of the House of Commons and Michelle Donelan as culture secretary. Truss retained Ben Wallace as defence secretary, Alok Sharma as president for COP26, Alister Jack as Scottish secretary, Robert Buckland as Wales secretary, and James Heappey as minister of state for the armed forces and veterans.
Main article: Death and state funeral of Elizabeth II
Truss was the fifteenth and final British prime minister to serve under Elizabeth II, who died on 8 September, two days after appointing Truss. She was told of the Queen's ill health in the early morning; Truss ordered black clothes from Greenwich in the event of her death. A witness said that "[Truss] knew it would be that day but she had to go to the Commons to pretend everything was normal". Upon Elizabeth's death, Truss delivered a statement outside 10 Downing Street paying tribute to her, saying "Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her". On 10 September, Truss attended the accession ceremony of Charles III and took an oath of allegiance to the King with fellow senior MPs, and attended the Queen's funeraI service in Westminster Abbey on 19 September, reading the second lesson.
Main article: October 2022 United Kingdom government crisis
On 8 September, in response to the ongoing cost of living crisis, Truss unveiled a two-year cap on the price of domestic energy supplies —the Energy Price Guarantee— which was planned to cap average household energy bills at £2,500 per year; the plan cost between 70 and £140 billion. Truss, who announced the measure in the House of Commons, made an effort to keep the energy cap and tax plan announcements separate.
On 23 September, Kwarteng announced a controversial mini-budget which proposed cutting taxation significantly, including abolishing the 45 per cent rate of tax, cutting the basic rate of income tax, cancelling rises in national insurance contributions and corporation tax, abolishing the proposed Health and Social Care Levy, and cutting stamp duty; the package was to be funded by borrowing. The mini-budget was received badly by financial markets, blamed for the pound falling to its lowest ever rate against the US dollar, (US$1.033) and prompted a response from the Bank of England. The mini-budget was criticised by the IMF, US president Joe Biden, the opposition Labour Party and many within Truss's party, including senior politicians Michael Gove and Grant Shapps.
I think it's a shambles and a disgrace ... I hope all those people that put Liz Truss into Number 10, I hope it was worth it. I hope it was worth it for the ministerial red box, I hope it was worth it to sit round the Cabinet table because the damage they have done to our party is extraordinary.
After initially defending the mini-budget, Truss instructed Kwarteng to reverse the abolition of the 45 per cent income tax additional rate on 3 October. She later reversed the cut in corporation tax and dismissed Kwarteng, replacing him with Jeremy Hunt on 14 October, who reversed many of the remaining policies announced in the mini-budget; due to Truss's perceived weakness, Hunt was jokingly described as the de facto prime minister. During this time, Truss became increasingly unpopular with the public, and contributed to a large fall in support for the Conservatives; in October, she became the most unpopular prime minister in British history, with her personal approval rating recorded as nine per cent. She was pilloried in national and international press as a u-turner, and a chaotic vote on fracking along with the resignation of Suella Braverman as home secretary compounded a rapid deterioration of confidence in her leadership. On 19 October, in response to a question by Keir Starmer, Truss stated that she was a "fighter and not a quitter", quoting a 2001 phrase by Peter Mandelson.
Shortly before noon on 20 October, Truss's 45th day in office, Graham Brady, the leader of the 1922 Committee, held a meeting with Truss, where she asked if she would be able to remain in office: his response was "I don't think so, prime minister". At 1:35 pm, Truss announced her resignation as the leader of the Conservative Party and as prime minister. She gave the following 89–second–long statement:
I came into office at a time of great economic and international instability. Families and businesses were worried about how to pay their bills. Putin's illegal war in Ukraine threatens the security of our whole continent. And our country has been held back by for too long by low economic growth. I was elected by the Conservative Party with a mandate to change this. We delivered on energy bills and on cutting National Insurance. And we set out a vision for a low-tax, high-growth economy that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit. I recognise though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party. I have therefore spoken to His Majesty the King to notify him that I am resigning as leader of the Conservative Party. This morning I met the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. We've agreed there will be a leadership election to be completed within the next week. This will ensure that we remain on a path to deliver our fiscal plans and maintain our country's economic stability and national security. I will remain as prime minister until a successor has been chosen. Thank you.
Her resignation as prime minister was accepted by Charles III at an audience at Buckingham Palace. She was succeeded by Sunak as leader of the Conservative Party on 24 October, and advised the King to appoint him as the new prime minister on 25 October. Truss became the shortest-serving prime minister in British history, surpassing George Canning, who was prime minister for 119 days. The short length of her premiership was the subject of much ridicule, including a livestream of a head of lettuce comparing the shelf-life of the vegetable to her remaining tenure. Truss, who remains in the Commons as a backbencher, published her resignation honours in 2023.
Truss is known for her economically liberal views and her support for free trade. She supports the neoliberal philosophy of supply-side economics, often referred to as "trickle-down economics".
Truss was described as a hawkish foreign secretary. She called for Britain to reduce economic dependency on China and Russia and supported certain diplomatic and economic sanctions imposed by the British government against the former. Truss has supported Taiwan in the context of deteriorating cross-strait relations, but, citing precedent, said that she would not visit the island as prime minister, and condemned the Chinese government's treatment of the Uyghur people as "genocide". In 2022, she called Saudi Arabia an ally but said she was not "condoning" the country's policies.
Truss supported the United Kingdom remaining in the European Union during the 2016 referendum. Since the referendum, Truss has supported Brexit; in 2017, she publicly stated that she had changed her mind. During the July 2022 leadership election, Truss said that "I was wrong and I am prepared to admit I was wrong".
In 2021, Truss stated that the Conservatives should "reject the zero-sum game of identity politics, [reject] the illiberalism of cancel culture, and [reject] the soft bigotry of low expectations that holds so many people back". She has also suggested that the UK should not ignore the history of the British Empire, but should embrace the country's history "warts and all".
Truss voted for gay marriage and has never voted against LGBT rights, but has moved to limit transgender rights. She spoke against gender self-identification, stating that "medical checks are important" and that "only women have a cervix". Despite initially supporting single-sex services being restricted on the basis of biological sex, she later said in February 2022 that the government was not interested in enacting such a measure.
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