Some see echoes of the Iron Lady — as Margaret Thatcher was known — in Liz Truss’ vision of a “network of liberty” binding democracies around the world.
As a child, Liz Truss had marched in demonstrations against Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
As an adult, she came to admire Britain’s first female leader — and now she is about to enter No. 10 Downing Street with a Thatcherite zeal to transform the UK.
Truss, Britain’s foreign secretary, was named winner Monday in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and the country’s prime minister.
The party said Truss won the votes of around 57 percent of Conservative members, compared with about 43 percent for ex-Treasury chief Rishi Sunak.
Truss, 47, will become Britain’s third female prime minister, after Thatcher, who governed from 1979 to 1990, and Theresa May, who held office from 2016 to 2019.
Conservative Party members have embraced Truss’ vows to slash taxes and red tape and keep up Britain’s staunch support for Ukraine.
But to critics, Truss is an inflexible ideologue whose right-wing policies won’t help Britain weather the economic turmoil set off by the pandemic, Brexit and Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.
Rise to Britain’s top diplomat
Born in Oxford in 1975, Mary Elizabeth Truss is the daughter of a math professor and a nurse. In a 2018 speech, she said she began developing her own political views early, “arguing against my socialist parents in our left-wing household.”
Truss went to Oxford University, where she studied philosophy, politics and economics — the degree of choice for many aspiring politicians — and was president of the university branch of the Liberal Democratic Party.
She served as a local councilor in London and ran unsuccessfully for Parliament twice before being elected to represent the eastern England seat of Southwest Norfolk in 2010.
Truss got her first Cabinet job as food and environment secretary in 2014, making her biggest impression with a much-mocked speech in which she thundered that it was “a disgrace” that Britain imports two-thirds of its cheese.
In Britain’s 2016 referendum on whether to leave the European Union, Truss backed the losing “remain” side, though she says she was always a natural euroskeptic. Since the vote, she has won over Brexiteers with her uncompromising approach to the EU.
She became justice secretary, but she was demoted to a more junior role in the Treasury by May in 2017.
When Boris Johnson replaced May, he made Truss trade secretary, a role in which she Instagrammed her way around the world signing post-Brexit trade deals and raising her profile.
In September 2021, she was appointed foreign secretary, Britain’s top diplomat.
READ MORE: UK’s Sunak, Truss spar over tax, China
Her performance has drawn mixed reviews.
Many praise her firm response to the Russia-Ukraine war, and she secured the release of two British citizens jailed in Iran, where her predecessors had failed.
But EU leaders and officials who hoped she would bring a softer tone to Britain’s relations with the bloc have been disappointed.
Amid trade wrangling, Truss introduced legislation to rip up parts of the binding UK-EU divorce agreement signed by both sides. The 27-nation bloc is taking legal action against Britain in return.
Conservatives have embraced Truss’ optimistic message of liberation through less government but the wider British electorate is likely to prove a harder audience to win over.
READ MORE: Truss pledges to ditch all EU laws by 2023