Liz Truss policies: New prime minister’s campaign promises

The new prime minister’s campaign promises on tax, healthcare, climate, Brexit and Ukraine

Joe Sommerlad
Tuesday 06 September 2022 07:29 BST
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Liz Truss refuses to commit to extra payments to help with energy bills

Liz Truss has been confirmed as Britain’s next prime minister.

The foreign secretary saw off a Tory leadership challenge from former chancellor Rishi Sunak to win the race to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and the UK’s next PM.

The road to Downing Street also saw Ms Truss fend off rivals such as Penny Mordaunt, Kemi Badenoch, Tom Tugendhat, Suella Braverman, Nadhim Zahawi and Jeremy Hunt over the course of a gruelling and often bitter eight-week contest that has been allowed to rumble on while the country’s many, many problems go unaddressed by the perennially-on-holiday Mr Johnson.

She will now have to unite the party and hit the ground running if she is to rein in the cost of living crisis and make a success of her tenure.

Ms Truss has faced a good deal of criticism over her refusal to give details about how exactly she plans to approach the economic recovery – and for dodging scrutiny altogether by ducking out of interviews – but this is what she has said about key areas of public policy.

Tax, spending and the cost of living

Speaking at her leadership launch, for which she arrived late and then left by the wrong door, Ms Truss pledged to cancel out the rise in National Insurance that was announced by Mr Sunak and came into effect in April, in order to put more money in citizens’ pockets.

While she has since been cagey indeed about tackling the cost of living crisis, Ms Truss has promised help with energy bills within a week of taking office (apparently signalling a U-turn on her earlier stated opposition to “handouts”) and to hold an emergency budget as soon as possible, with the country facing runaway inflation in double-digits and soaring costs while wages stagnate.

Ms Truss also pledged at the outset to scrap Mr Sunak’s planned rise in corporation tax, due to increase from 19 per cent to 23 per cent in 2023 and promised £30bn worth of tax cuts, which she insisted was the only way to revive the ailing British economy but which the former chancellor said was reckless, a short-term “sugar rush” paid for “with the country’s credit card” that amounted to nothing more than “fairytale” politics, a pragmatic message his party was apparently unwilling to hear.

Liz Truss during a hustings event at the Culloden Hotel on the outskirts of Belfast
Liz Truss during a hustings event at the Culloden Hotel on the outskirts of Belfast (PA Wire)

Ms Truss has suggested she will pay for this, in part, by spreading out the repayment of the national debt accumulated over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic over a longer period.

Other economic policies she has proposed include suspending the “green levy” on energy bills (used to pay for renewable energy projects), altering tax obligations to make it easier for people to stay at home as carers, introducing “low-tax and low-regulation zones” to create hubs for innovation and enterprise around the country and to boost defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030.

Healthcare

On the NHS – once more on its knees with autumn flu season approaching and a fresh wave of Covid far from unlikely –  Ms Truss has backed shifting a greater proportion of healthcare spending towards social care and bringing more doctors out of retirement to help out (surely a sticking plaster if ever there was one).

She has also said that making GP’s surgeries more accessible is key to relieving some of the strain on the UK’s hospitals, which are currently battling dangerously long waiting times and treatment backlogs while starved of resources.

Improved mental health facilities in schools are also a priority, the former education minister has said.

Brexit

Despite having supported Remain and spoken out at the time about the importance of ready access to Europe, Ms Truss now casts herself not just as the reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher but also as the Brexiteer’s Brexiteer, even more so than Mr Sunak, who actually voted to leave the bloc.

Like Mr Johnson, she has threatened to risk the fragile peace at home by tampering with the Northern Ireland Protocol, insisting that trade between Great Britain and the region must be “free-flowing” and left up to UK courts to legislate, while also pledging to scrap or replace any EU regulations that she views as holding back Britain’s economic recovery.

Climate

Apparently still not a matter of much concern to many Tories despite a summer of record temperatures, drought and associated transport chaos, Ms Truss, also a former environment secretary, has at least said she intends to honour the UK’s pledge to hit net zero by 2050 and promised protections for wildlife and biodiversity.

That said, she has also called for a review into the ban on harmful fracking in pursuit of shale gas, encouraged more nuclear power stations and labelled solar farms “a blight on the landscape”.

Housing

Potentially placing the new PM in further conflict with the environment is her pledge to see 300,000 new homes built in the UK every year.

Elsewhere, she has also said she hopes to help first-time buyers by incorporating rental payments into mortgage assessments.

Education

In a vague nod to Conservative “Levelling Up” principles, once talked up mightily but rarely mentioned during August’s hustings events, Ms Truss has said every pupil must be entitled to “the best opportunity to succeed” regardless of their background, an aspiration drawing on her own supposedly gritty origins at a Leeds comprehensive.

Ms Truss has otherwise said she would like to expand academically-successful academies, introduce more free schools and reform university admission procedures so that places in higher education are offered only based on actual, not predicted, grades while making Oxbridge places available automatically to anyone with the right results.

In a gesture to those on the right of the party’s passion for “anti-woke” politics, typified by fallen leadership rivals and possible Truss cabinet appointees Ms Badenoch and Ms Braverman, she says she will insist on single-sex toilets in schools.

Ukraine

Ms Truss has moved to reassure Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that Britain’s support for his country in the face of Russian aggression will be unwavering, six months into an increasingly brutal and costly war that Mr Johnson did much to involve himself with, securing the admiration of Mr Zelensky and his people in the process.

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