Liz Truss is a 'freedom-loving Thatcherite' says Kirsty Buchanan
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Ms Truss has stepped into the public and media spotlight as Foreign Secretary, fuelling speculation over a stab at party leadership with current Prime Minister Boris Johnson on increasingly shaky ground. Joseph Robertson, director of the Orthodox Conservatives think tank, told Express.co.uk the emerging image of the Foreign Secretary is one carefully crafted to mount a leadership challenge.
He said Ms Truss is “certainly” thinking about a bid for the Tory leadership, commenting: “You don’t get in a tank and wave flags around unless you’re preparing a stint at something ministerial or above.”
He added that the Foreign Secretary is attempting to cultivate a new, popular persona that moves away from the voting patterns she has exhibited in the past.
He said: “She’s trying to display a patriotic alternative to the voter base that might cater for that Brexit majority, and make them think that she’s the new Thatcher figure the party needs.
“The reality is that Liz Truss has a lot of liberal tendencies and has voted in the past in what some may perceive as a Liberal Democrat tendency.
“So, this is a new character we are seeing formed for Truss.
“This is something that is going to bring her into the public limelight in a new way, and create a new level of spin for her.”
Mr Robertson compared the Foreign Secretary’s ascendency to the rebranding that current Prime Minister – and ex-Foreign Secretary – Boris Johnson underwent to galvanise his leadership standing.
He claimed Truss’s transformation was similar to the “way that Johnson got on board with the Brexit agenda, and reinvented himself from being a metropolitan elite that was very London-based to somebody who could connect with the rest of the country.
“It’s an image makeover with a tilt at the leadership in mind.”
Leadership speculation has been heightened by increasing calls for Boris Johnson’s resignation, as the anticipation builds around the release of civil servant Sue Gray’s investigation into alleged lockdown parties at Downing Street.
Ms Truss has been vocal in her support of the current leader, adding she backed the Prime Minister “100 percent”.
She told Sky News: “The Prime Minister has appeared before Parliament, he has apologised for what has happened.
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“He’s admitted that mistakes were made and I 100 percent support him, and want him to continue as Prime Minister”.
But as candidates for next Tory leader start to move behind the scenes, the Foreign Secretary’s behaviour continues to draw comparisons with former Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher – not least in her attitude towards Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
Ahead of an arranged visit to the Kremlin in February, Ms Truss addressed a G7 congregation in Sydney to denounce the “massive strategic mistake” that Russia would be making if they were to invade Ukraine.
The Foreign Secretary issued a number of warnings to Mr Putin that harked back to the hardline rhetoric of ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher against the Soviet Union.
The Foreign Secretary warned Mr Putin that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would result in a comparable loss of life to when the USSR took over Afghanistan during the Eighties.
Ms Truss then accused Mr Putin of trying to glue back together the collapsed Soviet Union.
Ms Truss cautioned the Kremlin to learn “the lessons of history” adding: “They dream of recreating the Soviet Union, or a kind of greater Russia, carving up territory based on ethnicity and language.
“They claim they want stability while they work to threaten and destabilise others.”
Confrontational rhetoric was familiar to the Prime Minister known as the Iron Lady – a nickname attributed to the Conservative leader by a Soviet publication in a jab intended to be a criticism.
Like Ms Truss has proven to be of today’s Russia, Mrs Thatcher was a steadfast critic of the Soviet Union and the Kremlin’s domination in eastern Europe.
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