Truss will be the third woman to head the British government. She came from a left-wing background, today she resembles the “Iron Lady”

Truss will be the third woman to head the British government. She came from a left-wing background, today she resembles the “Iron Lady”
Truss will be the third woman to head the British government. She came from a left-wing background, today she resembles the “Iron Lady”

The era of women in the office of the British prime minister was started by Margaret Thatcher, who won the elections three times between May 1979 and November 1990, supported a tough and unyielding reform policy and was able to break the power of the trade unions that crippled Britain.

Britain’s second prime minister was Theresa May, whose three-year mandate from July 2016 to July 2019 was marked by difficult negotiations on the terms of Brexit.

Merits and mistakes

From the position of Foreign Secretary (from September 2021), Liz Truss has emphasized great support for Ukraine, especially through economic sanctions of unprecedented proportions.

In addition to British diplomacy, she previously led several key ministries – at the head of the department of international trade from 2019 to 2021, she led the country through the difficult period of Brexit (as the second woman in the history of this office) and with non-European countries she eventually negotiated free trade agreements, in which the British see a replacement for the common European market.

She is also credited with the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British woman with Iranian citizenship. She was detained in Iran in 2016 when she came there with her daughter to visit her family, and the courts there subsequently sentenced her to a total of six years in prison for conspiracy against the Iranian government and for propaganda, which the British woman has always denied.

But Truss has also experienced several diplomatic blunders. During a visit to Moscow in mid-February this year, which was one of the last attempts to prevent the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tried to convince it that Russia was not planning an attack against Ukraine and that Russian soldiers were on the territory of their country.

“Do you recognize Russia’s sovereignty in the Rostov and Voronezh regions?” Lavrov asked the politician. “Britain will never recognize Russian sovereignty in these regions,” Truss responded. She later explained that she thought Lavrov was talking about part of Ukraine.

A second “Iron Lady”?

The former “Iron Lady” was reminiscent of Truss’ platform points in the Conservative Party leadership campaign. In particular, emphasizing the small role of the state and low taxes. For example, Truss proposes a reduction in the number of members of the government and preaches a libertarian economy with as little interference as possible in the free market.

Along with four other Conservative MPs, she wrote a book called Britain Unchained, in which she recommends removing state regulation to strengthen Britain’s position in the world.

Former prime minister Thatcher was recently reminded of Truss’s answer in one of the TV debates. When asked “How do you feel about the idea that you can cause global destruction if you push the button to use nuclear weapons?” Truss replied with a stony face: “I’m ready to do it.”

The media also noticed earlier that, for example, during the trip to Moscow, Trussova wore almost the same fur cap as Thatcher during a former diplomatic trip to the Kremlin. She was also photographed riding in a tank, which brought to mind a well-known photo of the former Conservative prime minister.

In relation to Brexit, part of Truss’s campaign was to stick with the policy of the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who proposed to unilaterally end the special arrangement for Northern Ireland, which effectively remains part of the EU’s customs zone after Brexit.

This is to prevent a new religious conflict in this British province. However, orthodox Brexiteers do not like the exception, who see it as a permanent undesired attachment to the EU.

On immigration, Truss did not dispute the outgoing government’s decision to return illegal immigrants to Rwanda. At the same time, however, Home Secretary Priti Patel negotiated a deal with her to accept immigrants who enter the kingdom illegally.

Former sympathizer with the left

However, Margaret Thatcher was not always Truss’s role model, even though she embodied her at the age of seven during a school election simulation. But at the same time, with her left-leaning parents, she participated in peaceful demonstrations against the government, at which she herself chanted the anti-Thatcher slogan “Down with Maggie!”.

Elizabeth (Liz) Truss was born on 26 July 1975 in Oxford to a mathematics professor and a nurse. Her mother was involved in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, an organization protesting Thatcher’s decision to allow US nuclear warheads to be deployed at RAF Greenham Common, west of London.

When Truss was four years old, the family moved to Scotland, where the future prime minister grew up. In 1996, she studied philosophy, political science and economics at Merton College, Oxford University. She joined the centre-left Liberal Democrats in her studies and even chaired their student branch at university.

At the party’s conference in 1994, she spoke out for the abolition of the monarchy, telling delegates at the Brighton convention: “We Liberal Democrats believe in opportunity for all. We don’t believe that people are born to rule.” As a teenager, Truss also campaigned for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Truss’ ideological shift to the right occurred at the end of her university studies. However, according to her Oxford classmate, Mark Littlewood, it was a natural progression. “She’s always been very skeptical of privileged institutions that think they know best,” he said.

Entry into high politics

Truss later joined the Conservative Party. She subsequently worked in the private sector as an economist and in 2006 was elected a councilor in Greenwich, South East London.

She entered high politics in 2010 by being elected to parliament. She was subsequently Under-Secretary of State for Child Care and Education and Secretary for the Environment and Countryside in David Cameron’s government from 2014 to 2016.

As a minister, she claimed that human activity is responsible for climate change. She then took over the leadership of the Ministry of Justice in Theresa May’s government until 2017, as the first woman in this position. She was also the chief secretary of the Ministry of Finance for two years and, since September 2019, also the head of the government office for equal opportunities.

A karaoke lover, Truss is married to accountant Hugh O’Leary. They have two teenage daughters together.

The article is in Czech

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