Liz Truss U-turns: All the times her policies have been ‘misinterpreted’

The Tory frontrunner has performed many U-turns, big and small

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Tuesday 09 August 2022 05:45 BST
<p>Liz Truss said she would ignore Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Jacob King/PA)</p>

Liz Truss said she would ignore Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Jacob King/PA)

Liz Truss's team has again claimed her policies have been "misinterpreted", opening the doors to another U-turn.

The Tory leadership favourite has form, with a theme that policies are put forward and then ditched after their implications become clear.

Ms Truss has been called out for flip-flopping on a range of policies from Brexit to abolishing the monarchy. Here we take a closer look at where she stands.

'Handouts' to address the cost of living

Bills will rise by £693 for millions of households from April (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The latest U-turn comes after Ms Truss said she would not be giving people "handouts" to help with soaring energy bills.

She said she would try to help families, but focus on tax cuts, telling the Financial Times: "The way I would do things is in a Conservative way of lowering the tax burden, not giving out handouts."

Critics pointing out that tax cuts would not help those most in need because many on the lowest incomes already pay little tax.

Following this, Penny Mordaunt, one of her most prominent supporters, went on television to say her remarks had been "misinterpreted".

Ms Mordaunt said the would-be prime minister was making a "general point about the merits of enabling people to keep more of what they earn".

"She's not ruled out all future help. In fact, part of her the reason for her putting an emergency budget forward is to really address some of these issues," Ms Mordaunt told Sky News.

Cutting wages outside of London

The Tory contender wanted to cut wages outside the South East of England (PA)

The change of approach comes just a week after Ms Truss was forced into an elaborate U-turn on her plans to cut public sector wages outside of London.

Her campaign team had press-released political journalists to say she would introduce "regional pay boards" to bring down wages of public sector workers outside London.

This would save money that could be used to fund tax cuts, she argued. The frontrunner also argued the wage cuts could be beneficial because the private sector found it hard to compete with public sector wages.

She claimed the figure would save £8.8 billion in wages – a figure that could only be attained by cutting wages across the public sector including for nurses and teachers, rather than only civil servants.

Ms Truss went on television herself to say her policy had been "misrepresented" and that it had only intended to apply to civil servants. She said she would not be going ahead with the plan.

Protecting Britain's steel industry

The UK’s largest steel works in Port Talbot, South Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

Such U-turns aren't limited to Liz Truss's leadership campaign: she has a history of having to reverse on policies once the implications become clear.

As international trade secretary she planned a major reduction in trade barriers, wanting to drop tariffs on some types of imported steel.

But the UK steel industry warned that the approach cost thousands of jobs and mean £100m of lost sales, running down the domestic industry.

The then trade secretary backed away from the plans after losing out during a Cabinet split with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who favoured the tougher protections.

Abolishing the monarchy

A younger Liz Truss wanted to do away with the monarchy

The Tory favourite has changed her mind about some quite fundamental issues. Ms Truss previously argued for the abolition of the monarchy.

A video emerged recently of the 19-year-old activist telling her audience: “We do not believe people are born to rule.”

But she apparently now does believe this: in July this year she said she "almost immediately" regretted her speech.

Interestingly, she made her original comments at Liberal Democrat party conference, having previously been an active member for the party before switching to the Tories.


Liz Truss at an event hosted by the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign in 2016

Liz Truss campaigned for Britain to stay in the EU in 2016, but now says she regrets her Remain vote.

Far from simply regretting the result of the referendum, she now says she disagrees with her previous position.

"I fully embraced the choice that the people of Britain have made," she told the BBC during the Tory leadership contest.

"I was wrong and I am prepared to admit I was wrong. Some of the portents of doom didn't happen and instead we have actually unleashed new opportunities."

A U-turn of another sort

Liz Truss arrives at the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting before her swift departure

As Boris Johnson's Cabinet was rocked by a series of resignation Liz Truss was preparing to fly out to Indonesia to attend a G20 summit.

But as the prime minister's future started to looked sealed, Truss performed a very physical U-turn and flew back to London early.

Her decision to head home and canvass support for her leadership bid reportedly raised eyebrows among some diplomats at the meeting – but seems to have paid off, as she is likely to become the next prime minister.

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