Liz Truss: What were the key moments of her first week as Prime Minister?

Liz Truss has spent her first week as Prime Minister and it has been anything but a quiet one.

The former foreign secretary won the leadership contest on Monday, met the Queen on Tuesday, took to the podium for her first Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, then announced an energy bills freeze on the Thursday.

That the latter took place in the backdrop of the Queen passing away makes hers a start like no other.

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Here are the key moments from her week, and what they suggest about the manner of her premiership.

Liz Truss has a chaotic start to her premiership with a week that started with her winning the Tory leadership and ended with the death of the Queen.
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Winning the Tory leadership race

Ms Truss won the race to replace Boris Johnson on Monday, defeating rival and former chancellor Rishi Sunak with 81,326 votes to 60,399.

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The scale of the win was considerably smaller than her team expected, and a lower margin than the past three Tory leadership elections.

Her victory allowed her to be Prime Minister, but with Mr Sunak having more MPs backing him, the scale of the win was not the resounding vote of support she had expected.

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Then there was her speech, which focused on praising her “friend” – outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson – and in which she used the word “deliver” ten times.

It also featured an awkward moment when she told Mr Johnson he was admired “from Kyiv to Carlisle”, only to stand in silence after waiting for applause.

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The statement notably drew an imaginary line in the north of England and was a seeming admission of Mr Johnson’s lack of popularity in Scotland.

Watching in the room, the atmosphere felt flat, and there were notable comments of derision from Tory MPs who did not seek to hide their displeasure.

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When Ms Truss finished speaking, one was heard remarking “we are absolutely f****d”, while another called her win “the biggest stitch-up since the Bayeux Tapestry”.

Her speech was short, simple and repeated the priorities already outlined during her campaign.

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There was also praise for Mr Sunak, which hinted at an interest in party unity that would not be seen in her Cabinet appointments.

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Liz Truss hails 'dignity and grace' of Queen Elizabeth II as politicians pay tri...
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Downing Street speech

After meeting the Queen to be confirmed as the new Prime Minister, Ms Truss returned to Downing Street on a wet and windy Tuesday in Westminster.

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The lectern for her speech was removed and brought back several times, at one point covered with a bin bag. But ultimately Ms Truss did speak outside Number 10.

Making her maiden speech as Prime Minister, Ms Truss claimed Britain could “ride out the storm” of the energy crisis.

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She said her Government would have “three early priorities”, which were growing the economy, helping with energy bills, and getting the UK working.

Ms Truss added: “I’m confident that together we can ride out the storm, we can rebuild our economy and we can become the modern brilliant Britain that I know we can be.

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“This is our vital mission to ensure opportunity and prosperity for all people and future generations. I’m determined to deliver.”

The speech lacked any real pronouncements, but was also short on jokes and business-like, offering clear blue water between her rhetoric and that of Mr Johnson.

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Earlier in the day Mr Johnson had hinted at a comeback and made jokes about how unfair it all was.

Focusing on promising to fix the issues was more stately than her predecessor, and set the tone for how she would perform at PMQs.

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Appointing Cabinet

Her next task was to appoint a Cabinet, in which she retained nine of those who served under Mr Johnson.

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Despite some of her own supporters hoping for ministers from across the party, Ms Truss removed everyone who had backed Mr Sunak and made a Cabinet of loyalists.

There was notably no place for Mr Sunak after a vicious campaign between the two, suggesting it is a Cabinet based on loyalty, rather than unity.

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Dominic Raab, Grant Shapps and Steve Barclay were all ousted, while former levelling-up secretary Michael Gove had already accepted his frontbench career was over.

Her close friend and neighbour Kwasi Kwarteng was appointed Chancellor, James Cleverly as foreign secretary, Suella Braverman as home secretary and Therese Coffey given the all-important health brief.

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There is already some controversy over the appointments, with both Ms Coffey and the new business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg having less-than-stellar records on abortion.

The new health secretary voted no to making telemedicine permanent earlier this year, no on four votes relating to decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland, no to decriminalising abortion in Britain, and yes to banning sex-selective abortion.

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Mr Rees-Mogg meanwhile has previously said abortion after rape meant “committing a second wrong”.

These are important issues and, while Ms Coffey has insisted she is a “democrat”, women’s rights groups are already furious.

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This dominance of Ms Truss’s campaign supporters around the top table is already annoying some Tory MPs and yet could cause trouble later on.

Given the numerous big beasts of the party Ms Truss declined to give a role, she will need a united Cabinet to stay strong in the face of dissenting voices.

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The most interesting reaction came from the wife of sacked minister Johnny Mercer.

Felicity Cornelius-Mercer said the system "stinks" and "treats people appallingly" after Mr Mercer was removed as veterans’ affairs minister, including a picture mocking Ms Truss as a character from The Muppets television show.

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PMQs

Ms Truss made a confident debut at PMQs where she was more focused on policy differences with the Labour party than jokes about it.

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Mr Johnson had made the whole affair more theatrical, but Ms Truss instead stressed that both main parties wanted to act on the energy crisis, they just had different approaches on it.

She accused Labour of always wanting more taxes, a line that would hold more weight if her party had not overseen the highest tax burden in 70 years.

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Hers was a more business-like performance than usual, which seems more Prime Ministerial, but may suit details-focused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

There was just one joke at his expense, with the Prime Minister pointing out Labour’s difficulty in finding a woman leader or one who does not hail from north London.

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She and Sir Keir also walked out together afterwards, with the Labour leader appearing to say “well done”, suggesting it will be a more personable relationship than the combative one he shared with Mr Johnson.

Regardless, Ms Truss’s performance was very different to what came before, and could make PMQs an actual debate after years of shouting.

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Support package

Thursday saw Ms Truss announce a support package that freezes energy bills at £2,500, coming into effect from October 1.

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The price cap will last for two years for households, with a six-month equivalent scheme for businesses.

Downing Street has refused to put a cost on the programme, previously estimated to be up to £150 billion.

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Ms Truss was criticised during the leadership campaign for not sharing details of her plan, something she doubled down on during the parliamentary session.

Announcements such as these are normally done during ministerial statements, allowing opposition parties the chance to extensively debate them.

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Instead, it was made during a general debate about the cost-of-living crisis, infuriating Labour MPs who felt the Government dodged scrutiny.

Speaking to one after, they suggested it was the “same old tactics” of Mr Johnson, with the Prime Minister hiding behind parliamentary procedure.

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Ms Truss’s announcement went further than most expected and showed a flexibility on policy, but the lack of transparency was noteworthy.

Death of the Queen

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Thursday also saw Ms Truss hail the “dignity and grace” of Queen Elizabeth II as the monarch passed away at Balmoral – where the new Prime Minister had been received just 48 hours earlier – aged 96.

MPs appeared to find out during the debate over energy bills, with a note passed around during the session.

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The Prime Minister made an address outside Downing Street shortly after the Queen’s passing was confirmed, and praised her sense of duty.

She said: “It’s an extraordinary achievement to have presided with such dignity and grace for 70 years. Her life of service stretched beyond most of our living memories.”

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This was then followed on Friday with more tributes in the Commons, where MPs came together to laud the Queen.

The Prime Minister said the Queen had fulfilled her promised to “dedicate her life to service”.

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Ms Truss added: “Her devotion to duty remains an example to us all. She carried out thousands of engagements, she took a red box everyday, she gave her assent to countless pieces of legislation and was at the heart of our national life for seven decades.”

It was perhaps the most historic event any Prime Minister has had to deal with, and a speech that will have been watched all over the world.

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With more tributes to come and the succession plan, Ms Truss’s start as Prime Minister shows no sign of getting any easier.

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