Liz Truss, a new Margaret Thatcher to replace Boris Johnson?

NIKLAS HALLE’N / AFP (FILES) In this file photo taken on June 07, 2022 Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrives to attend a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London. – After a gruelling nationwide tour, a dozen hustings and three televised debates, Liz Truss appears poised to take over as the UK’s next prime minister heading into the close of voting by Conservative party members on Friday. (Photo by Niklas HALLE’N / AFP)


Liz Truss is the favorite to replace Boris Johnson in Downing Street on September 5, 2022.

UNITED KINGDOM – The time for succession has arrived. This Monday, September 5, Boris Johnson will know the name of his replacement at 10 Downing Street after his forced resignation in early July caused by the cascading departures of ministers exasperated by his repeated scandals. Barring a dramatic change, Liz Truss, current Minister of Foreign Affairs, should be chosen by members of the Conservative Party to replace him.

Hardened by a rich political career, Liz Truss has emerged as the great favorite in the race for Downing Street against Rishi Sunak, ex-finance minister who was one of the first to resign and remained prisoner of his image of wealthy technocrat banker.

The vote ended on Friday and the results will be known this Monday at midday. “It will be a very, very big surprise if she does not win”explains to AFP John Curtice, political scientist at the University of Strathclyde, noting the ability of the minister to “politically seduce conservative adherents and articulate a clear message for them”.

Rallying to conservatism and Brexit late in the day, the 47-year-old minister won over the base of the ruling party, 160,000 members, especially elderly and white men on the far right, who decide between the finalists to succeed Boris Johnson. His regular references to Margaret Thatcher have a lot to do with it.

Against Brexit in 2016

Liz Truss has a sometimes tortuous political career behind her. Born July 26, 1975 into a very left-wing family, she was first active in the centrist Liberal-Democrat party before joining the Conservatives in 1996, for whom she became an MP in 2010, for the constituency of South West Norfolk (east of England).

Since 2012, she has chained positions in ministries (Education, Environment, Justice then Chief Secretary of the Treasury). She has known defeats and setbacks: she almost lost the legislative nomination due to an extramarital affair and was demoted by Theresa May after a difficult passage in Justice.

She could also have paid for her vote against Brexit in 2016. But she became one of its most fervent supporters, negotiating and touting new free trade agreements at the Department for International Trade.

Margaret Thatcher, a model

Appointed in 2021 at the head of British diplomacy – a way for Boris Johnson to control his ambitions -, she is intransigent against the European Union on Northern Ireland, and embodies with Boris Johnson the firmness against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. A position contrary to that of Emmanuel Macron, a supporter of dialogue with Vladimir Putin.

She feeds comparisons with Margaret Thatcher, ultra-popular in the majority and pleases the conservatives with her harsh speech towards the unions. Sometimes considered stiff, she appeared more relaxed in recent weeks, while her allies described her as a bon vivant who loves cheese and karaoke. She is also considered loyal, since she is one of the few who did not resign from her post last July.

“In a party that has evolved towards populism, she has been able to present herself in a more authentic, more ordinary way than Rishi Sunak who finds himself easily assimilated into the globalized elite”also notes Tim Bale, professor at Queen Mary University of London. “Like Boris Johnson, she defends the idea of ​​an elite that must be countered and presents herself as outside the establishment, despite having been in government for eight years”he adds.

Liz Truss promises to lower taxes

To please her electorate, she pledged to cut taxes to spur growth and reduce bureaucracy. If elected, she “will focus on energy prices for consumers and how to revive the UK economy” and assured to have “a bold project that will grow the economy”.

But the pressure will be considerable to act quickly. The cost of living crisis has taken a dramatic turn in the UK, with the announcement of an 80% rise in household energy bills in October which could push inflation, already above 10 %, up to 22% according to the most alarmist forecasts.

Many households are already wondering how they will be able to pay their bills this winter. Numerous strikes and demonstrations in all trades have shaken the country for several weeks for wage increases. The “don’t pay UK” movement, whose members refuse to pay energy bills in the face of soaring costs, has also been launched.

The tension between France and the United Kingdom is not going to fall

On the international side, its tough positions, particularly on Brexit, risk straining the United Kingdom’s relationship with Europe and France even more. For Elvire Fabry, researcher specializing in Brexit interviewed by the JDD, “Liz Truss wants to be the reincarnation of Thatcher and intends to reconnect with the traditional liberalism of the Conservative Party. She will want to be tougher than Johnson and take up the sword in a very personal confrontation.

Liz Truss thus surprised when she refused to say if Emmanuel Macron was “friend or foe” during the campaign. She said she would judge the French president “on his deeds”. “The jury is still deliberating”she added, making the room laugh.

Invited to react to the ambiguous response of Liz Truss, Emmanuel Macron allowed himself a small warning a few hours later: “It’s never good to lose your bearings too much in life. If I was asked the question, regardless of the person to be considered, I do not wonder for a single second: the United Kingdom is a friend of France. We live in a complicated world, if we are not able, between French and British, to say if we are friend or enemy – the term is not neutral – we are heading for serious problems. »

Not a good omen for the many litigation files that exist between France and the United Kingdom. Among them, the management of post-Brexit issues, whether fishing or Northern Ireland, the question of the crossings of migrants from the North of France to England, or even waste water discharges not handled by British companies in the Channel.

See also also on The HuffPost: “Hasta la Vista, baby”: Boris Johnson plays the “Terminator” for his last show in the House

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Liz Truss, a new Margaret Thatcher to replace Boris Johnson?

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