Liz Truss cites Iran diplomacy as qualification for UK PM job

Foreign secretary launches her bid with call to make Britain a high-growth economy

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UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss pointed on Thursday to the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and another British hostage from prison in Iran as a demonstration of her leadership skills, as she launched her bid for prime minister.

Speaking to The Spectator magazine, she responded to a jibe about her “hand grenade” style with a point about her effectiveness in high office.

“What they say about the 'human hand grenade', which I think was first aired in The Spectator in a particularly appalling cartoon of me, I take it as a backhanded compliment in that I do get stuff done,” she said.

“Since I’ve been at the Foreign Office, we have secured the release of Nazanin [Zaghari-Ratcliffe] and Anoosheh [Ashoori] from Iran. We’ve refocused on foreign policy, on the network of liberty, and are taking a much tougher stand on both Russia and China.”

At a launch event on Thursday, she is expected to stress her economic agenda and her experience serving in the government since 2010.

“I am ready to be prime minister on day one,” she will say. “I can lead, make tough decisions and rise to the moment.

“My mission in politics is to give every child, every person, the best opportunity to succeed and for their success in life to depend solely on their hard work and talents, not their background or where they are from.”

The mantle of economic reformist is one she has sought to burnish with comparisons to Margaret Thatcher, the idol of the conservative right and prime minister from 1979-1990.

“I have a plan to make Britain a high-growth economy through bold supply-side reform.”

Liz Truss

Ministerial experience: Current Foreign Secretary.
What did she do before politics? Worked as an economist for Shell and Cable and Wireless and was then a deputy director for right-of-centre think tank Reform.
What does she say on tax? She has pledged to "start cutting taxes from day one", reversing April's rise in National Insurance and promising to keep "corporation tax competitive".

Allies of departing leader Boris Johnson, including Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, came out in support of Ms Truss moments after leaving a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Rees-Mogg went on to argue that the foreign secretary is “fiscally on the right side of the argument” and that she “opposed the endless tax rises of [rival Rishi Sunak], which I think have been economically damaging; I also was opposed to in cabinet”.

“I think that's important that you have somebody who's fiscally on the right side of the argument, who doesn't believe that higher taxation is the right answer to every question.”

He also said Ms Truss — who voted Remain in the 2016 European Union referendum — is more willing to take advantage of Brexit than Leave-voting Mr Sunak.

Mr Rees-Mogg claimed she is more “supportive about getting rid of the supremacy of EU law, and having a sunset on EU law” than Mr Sunak's Treasury.

Liz Truss

“I think you have to judge people by what they do currently,” he said.

Ms Truss said her 2016 vote was dictated by her instincts of personal loyalty and pointed to her role as foreign secretary in which she has stated her readiness to defy the EU by scrapping the Northern Ireland Protocol as well as her support for trade deals around the world post-Brexit.

“If I could vote now, I would vote to leave the European Union,” she told The Spectator.

“I was a reluctant Remainer. I was loyal to the prime minister at the time, David Cameron, but since the referendum, I’ve put my shoulder to the wheel in terms of delivering the opportunities of Brexit.

“As trade secretary, I negotiated a lot of trade deals, and we went much further than the European Union was ever prepared to in our deal with Australia.”

Updated: July 13, 2022, 11:34 PM
Liz Truss

Ministerial experience: Current Foreign Secretary.
What did she do before politics? Worked as an economist for Shell and Cable and Wireless and was then a deputy director for right-of-centre think tank Reform.
What does she say on tax? She has pledged to "start cutting taxes from day one", reversing April's rise in National Insurance and promising to keep "corporation tax competitive".

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