19 December 2021

Liz Truss consolidates control of foreign policy with Brexit portfolio

19 December 2021

Just months into her new role as Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss has secured another major portfolio.

Promoted by the Prime Minister to one of the great offices of state during his top-team reshuffle in September, Ms Truss has again been rewarded – this time with the portfolio of Brexit minister previously handled by David Frost

However, some have suggested the move may in fact be an attempt by Boris Johnson to land a potential future leadership contender with a poison chalice.

Lord Frost resigned from the role with immediate effect on Saturday, citing disagreements with the Government’s stance on lockdown restrictions, taxation and regulation.

A remainer in 2016, Ms Truss, 46, has been richly rewarded for embracing Brexit in the wake of the referendum result.

Liz Truss was a Remainer in 2016 (Leon Neal/PA) (PA Wire)

She has gone from being mocked about her outrage over cheese imports to being the most popular cabinet minister with the Tory Party membership – and a future contender for leader of the party.

While the Government faced tough headlines about deadlock in the negotiations with the European Union during the Brexit transition period, Ms Truss made steady work of rolling over a host of trade deals for the UK, ensuring the terms agreed while an EU member were ready to continue after exiting the bloc.

A much-coveted trade deal with the US might have eluded her, but she won plaudits in the Conservative Party for securing new terms with Japan and Australia, while a New Zealand agreement is said to be nearing completion.

To secure the terms with Canberra, Ms Truss’s free-trade beliefs were said to have won out against the protectionism instincts of other ministers, such as Environment Secretary George Eustice, especially when it came to food imports.

Her Labour critics, however, say the Cabinet minister did not deliver a “single trade deal that we didn’t already have inside the EU”, calling the praise within Government for her performance overblown.

With Dominic Raab removed from the Foreign Office after his botched handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, Boris Johnson has turned to a trusted ally in his latest reshuffle.

Ms Truss was an early backer of Mr Johnson during the Tory leadership race in 2019, a decision that helped her snare a promotion from chief secretary to the Treasury to heading up the Department for International Trade.

A vocal Remainer during the EU referendum, reports suggest No 10 has been impressed with the way she has embraced post-Brexit opportunities and trade reforms.

Liz Truss Truss was an early backer of Boris Johnson during the Tory leadership race (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

The married mother-of-two, whose relationship survived an affair with former Tory MP Mark Field before her election to the Commons, boasts an impressive CV, defying her upbringing by left-leaning parents to hold posts such as education minister, environment secretary and justice secretary in previous Conservative governments.

Away from politics, Ms Truss’s flair for social media has seen her offer an insight into the woman behind the politician by updating her Instagram account with pictures of her relaxing at the beach, or behind the scenes at official events.

Infamously, the worlds of social media and politics combined in 2014, when her improbably enthusiastic speech about opening pork markets in Beijing went viral, pilloried on satirical programmes such as Have I Got News For You?

She caused further hilarity when telling the Tory Party conference that year: “We import two-thirds of our cheese, that is a disgrace.”

Brought up in Yorkshire, Ms Truss studied philosophy, politics and economics at Merton College, Oxford, where she became president of the University Liberal Democrats.

Elected to Parliament in 2010, she previously worked in the energy and telecommunications industry and is a qualified management accountant.

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