The passing away of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022 has taken the limelight off the new British Prime Minister, Mary Elizabeth Truss (b. July 26, 1975).
To be honest, she is not a leader to be pushed behind. Liz Truss is a tough, skilled, and hardworking politician. Her predecessor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson managed to serve as the Prime Minister for just three years. The 47-year-old Truss has to take responsibility for the country which is going through a politically turbulent and financially difficult period. The third female Prime Minister of Britain (after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May) has admitted that Tory icon Thatcher is her role model.
Truss has been seen dressing like Thatcher in public. Attire should not be considered as outer decoration only, as it often reveals one’s personality. Characteristically, she had her own views and strong opinions on everything, like Thatcher, from the very beginning of her political career. Her father, John Truss, is an Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University of Leeds, who believes in Leftist Politics. As a young girl, Liz had marched with her family against Thatcher’s Nuclear Weapons Policy. Later, she was so inspired by Thatcher’s ideology that it had a negative impact on her relationship with her father. Classmates at her school in Leeds and also at the University of Oxford are of the opinion that the energetic Liz has always been quite a determined character. During her university days, the student of Philosophy, History and Economics had taken a leading role in various movements, including protests against the use of cannabis and an end to the Monarchy. At that period of time, Truss was an active member of the Liberal Democrat Party. A couple of years later, she joined the Conservative Party. Today, she is the first (Conservative) Prime Minister to serve under King Charles III. Truss, herself, has called the political philosophy of early life an indiscretion.
Truss’ tendency to change her (political) position has also prompted analysts to criticise her. They believe that she is not fit to bring political stability that Britain needs right now. Initially, Truss wanted Britain to remain in the European Union (EU). Later, she backed Brexit, as well. Analysts also believe that Truss’ opportunistic politics has helped her defeat Rishi Sunak in the final round of the recent race for Conservative leadership. During her campaign, she reportedly said that she would reduce taxes, and emphasise on the development of private sectors, etc. According to analysts, Truss made those promises only to get votes from Conservative members. Earlier, French President Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron stressed that Truss was “playing to the gallery“.
Meanwhile, her supporters have claimed that Truss is not an opportunist, and that she makes decisions in accordance with the situation. They have further claimed that she is not rigid, but liberal. Britain needs a liberal leader now.
As Truss loves to win, she creates favourable conditions for her victory. Her political rise is proof of that. At the beginning of the millennium, Truss had shown the courage to contest elections from a stronghold of the Labour Party. Although she lost the election, she narrowed the margin of votes. Then, she strengthened her position in the party due to her cordial relationship with the top Conservative leadership. However, Truss has rubbished this allegation by winning elections. Within a couple of years of becoming a Member of Parliament, she got a ministry. She served as the Minister of Education, Child Welfare, Rural Development, Environment, and Law in the Cabinets of David Cameron and Theresa May. She also became a close confidant of Boris Johnson, and held key responsibilities of the Trade and Foreign Ministries. She stood by Johnson until the end of his Prime Ministership. It seems that she managed to defeat Sunak in the leadership election due to this loyalty (to the PM).
Many have opined that the Truss Administration would be like the Johnson Administration. Britain is currently not in a situation to afford Directionless Administration or Thatcherian revolutionary changes in policy matters. Brexit and the COVID-19 Pandemic have hit the British Economy hard. The rate of inflation, too, has increased in Britain in recent times. Postal, railway, port and sanitation workers have called strikes, as they are unable to cope with the tax burden. Brexit has not only hit imports and exports, but has also created a shortage of skilled workers. The demand for electricity has also increased because of the ongoing heatwave. Hence, the electricity costs are going out of control.
In such a situation, the Opposition Labour Party will closely monitor each and every move of Truss. The Global Community, too, is waiting to see whether Truss can bring stability in Britain.
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