Who Is Liz Truss?
Oxford-born Liz Truss began her political rise as a Conservative MP from South West Norfolk in 2010. She became the youngest female cabinet member in British history in 2014, the first female lord chancellor in 2016 and the first female Conservative foreign secretary in 2021. Truss won her party's race to replace U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in September 2022, but her tenure was marred by ill-fated economic proposals. She announced her resignation just six weeks later.
How Old Is Liz Truss?
Mary Elizabeth Truss was born in Oxford, England, on July 26, 1975.
Early Years and Education
The oldest of four children born to dad John, a mathematics professor, and mom Priscilla, a nurse and teacher, Truss spent a year in Poland before moving with her family at age four to Paisley, Scotland. There, she attended West Primary School and began taking part in political demonstrations with her mother, a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Following another year abroad in British Columbia, Canada, Truss returned to England to attend the comprehensive Roundhay School in Leeds. Although she later criticized her educational experience at Roundhay, her sterling grades resulted in acceptance to the University of Oxford's Merton College.
An ardent member and eventual president of Oxford's Liberal Democrats, Truss advocated for the legalization of cannabis and famously denounced the monarchy in one speech. She also was involved with Oxford's Hayek Society, which celebrated the work of Austrian-British economist Friedrich Hayek, before graduating in 1996 with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics.
Truss joined Shell as a graduate trainee in 1996 and settled in as a commercial manager for the energy giant. She then moved on to the telecommunications company Cable & Wireless, where she served as economics director until her departure in 2005.
Her political ambitions crystalizing, Truss became deputy director of the public services think tank Reform from 2008-10, during which time she contributed to papers about educational and economic policy.
Member of Parliament
After switching to the Conservative Party in 1996, Truss unsuccessfully ran for the House of Commons as a candidate from Hemsworth in 2001 and Calder Valley in 2005. She became a councillor for Eltham South in 2006 and finally won a coveted MP seat from South West Norfolk in 2010 after weathering reports of her affair with a political mentor.
Truss soon formed the Free Enterprise Group among like-minded MPs, who caused a stir with a 2012 publication, Britannia Unchained, that accused British workers of being "among the worst idlers in the world." Around that time, she was appointed under secretary of state for education and childcare and further boosted her profile with a publicized trip to Shanghai in early 2014 to investigate how Chinese children performed so well in math and science.
In July 2014, the 38-year-old Truss became the youngest female cabinet member in British history with her appointment as secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs. Although she sought to draw more tech-minded employees to the food industry, she perhaps was best known during this time for emphatically declaring the U.K.'s importing of cheese to be a "disgrace." Truss also used her platform to push for the U.K. to "remain" in the European Union, before later changing sides to champion the Brexit cause.
Truss broke down another barrier by becoming the first official female lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice in July 2016. However, her time in the department was short-lived after struggling to defend the judiciary from tabloid attacks. Moving on to chief secretary to the treasury the following year, she found a better home for her free-market ideals and cultivated a regular presence on social media.
Named the secretary of state for international trade and president of the Board of Trade in August 2019, Truss successfully negotiated post-Brexit deals with more than five dozen countries. She also became the minister for women and equalities during this time, though she was accused of both shirking the responsibilities of the position and a disregard for transgender rights.
Another cabinet shuffle in September 2021 made Truss the first female member of her party to hold the post of secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs. Along with taking a tough stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Truss negotiated the safe return of British-Iranian nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori to their families, but also threatened upheaval with her stated desire to revisit the Northern Ireland protocol.
Three days after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation on July 7, 2022, Truss threw her hat into the ring to become the Conservative Party leader and new prime minister until the next general election. Although she consistently trailed former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak after several rounds of voting among Conservative MPs, 57 percent of the party's rank-and-file favored the foreign secretary, and on September 5, 2022, Truss was declared the winner of the race.
Shortly after formally accepting the prime minister role in what turned out to be Queen Elizabeth II's final royal engagement, Truss drew praise for her public composure as the world mourned the death of the longest-serving British monarch.
From there, things rapidly went downhill for the new premier. Following her promise to cap household energy bills for two years, the tax cuts presented in Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng's "mini-budget" spooked investors to the point where the Bank of England stepped in to steady skyrocketing interest rates and the plummeting British pound.
Truss subsequently scrapped the planned tax cuts for top earners and corporations and forced Kwarteng to resign in mid-October. However, new Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt further gutted her agenda by eliminating the basic income tax rate reduction and shortening the energy-bill freeze from two years to six months.
The chaos continued when Home Secretary Suella Braverman admitted to using a personal email for official correspondence and tendered her resignation on October 19. Later that day, a motion to vote on a government fracking bill in the House of Commons reportedly resulted in Conservative MPs bullying colleagues to support the measure.
On October 20, 2022, Truss announced that she was stepping down as leader of the Conservative Party and would relinquish her role as prime minister when a replacement was chosen.
Acknowledging her missteps "at a time of great economic and international instability," she declared she "cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party."
Truss's resignation announcement came on her 45th day in office, giving her the shortest tenure of any UK prime minister.
Husband and Children
Truss met accountant Hugh O'Leary at a Conservative Party conference in 1997. They survived an awkward first date in which he sprained his ankle and were married in 2000, their union producing daughters Liberty and Frances.
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