July 13, 2024

Undeterred ex-PM Truss to launch new UK Tory grouping

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Liz Truss, despite her short-lived tenure as UK prime minister, emerges onto the political stage once again this week, unveiling a new movement aimed at steering the ruling Conservatives towards a more rightward trajectory.

Truss’s time in office lasted a mere 49 days, abruptly ending in October 2022 following a tumultuous period marked by a botched mini-budget that rattled financial markets and weakened the pound. Her departure garnered attention, famously likened to the brief lifespan of a lettuce by one of Britain’s tabloid newspapers.

Unfazed by her past setbacks, Truss continues to exert influence, now challenging her successor Rishi Sunak as the United Kingdom braces for an upcoming general election, where polling suggests Sunak’s leadership may be in jeopardy. The launch of “Popular Conservatism,” or “PopCons,” on Tuesday marks Truss’s latest endeavor within the faction-ridden Conservative Party. Notable figures such as former Tory vice-chairman Lee Anderson and staunch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg have thrown their support behind the movement, advocating for hardline stances on immigration and tax policies.

Political analyst Tim Bale of London’s Queen Mary University observes Truss’s unorthodox strategy, drawing parallels to Margaret Thatcher’s confrontations with her successor in the 1990s. Bale notes Truss’s rapid transition from a failed leader to a vocal critic, aligning herself with free-market ideologues. Since leaving office, Truss has advocated for tax cuts, questioned environmental commitments, and opposed Sunak’s proposed smoking ban, asserting her conservative principles.

At the heart of the “PopCons” agenda lies a push for drastic policy shifts, including withdrawal from international courts, abandonment of certain human rights commitments, and repeal of anti-discrimination laws. The movement also intends to engage in divisive “culture war” issues, such as transgender rights. Despite these bold initiatives, Truss refrains from calling for Sunak’s ousting, recognizing the Tories’ history of leadership turnover.

However, Truss’s political aspirations face obstacles within her own party, where she remains a polarizing figure. Public sentiment towards Truss remains overwhelmingly negative, exacerbated by ongoing economic challenges attributed to her previous policies. A recent survey by polling firm Savanta revealed Truss’s net favorability rating to be the lowest among all politicians polled.

While some speculate on Truss’s motivations, with doubts cast on her ambition for a return to the top leadership position, others view her actions as strategic maneuvers to shape the Conservative Party’s future trajectory and potentially salvage her own reputation. A source close to Truss affirms her commitment to parliamentary engagement, indicating her intention to seek re-election and actively participate in shaping the party’s agenda leading up to the forthcoming election.

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