Elizabeth Truss

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The Right Honourable
Liz Truss
Elizabeth Truss 2016.jpg
Secretary of State for Justice
Lord Chancellor
Assumed office
14 July 2016
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by Michael Gove
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
15 July 2014 – 14 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Owen Paterson
Succeeded by Andrea Leadsom
Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare
In office
4 September 2012 – 15 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Sarah Teather (Minister of State for Schools and Families)
Succeeded by Nick Gibb
Member of Parliament
for South West Norfolk
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Christopher Fraser
Majority 13,861 (27.7%)
Personal details
Born Mary Elizabeth Truss[1]
(1975-07-26) 26 July 1975 (age 40)
Oxford, England, UK
Political party Liberal Democrats (Before 1996)
Conservative (1996–present)
Spouse(s) Hugh O'Leary
Children 2 daughters
Alma mater Merton College, Oxford
Website Official website

Mary Elizabeth "Liz" Truss[2] (born 26 July 1975) is a British Conservative Party politician who was appointed Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor in 2016. She is the first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role. She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for South West Norfolk since 2010.

After graduating from the University of Oxford in 1996, Truss worked in sales, as an economist, and was deputy director at the think-tank Reform, before becoming a member of parliament at the 2010 general election. As a backbencher, she called for reform in a number of policy areas, including childcare, maths education, and the economy.[3] She founded the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs, and authored or co-authored a number of papers and books, including After the Coalition (2011) and Britannia Unchained (2012).

Truss was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State from 2012 to 2014, with responsibility for education and childcare in the Department for Education.[4] She was the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2014 to 2016. On 14 July 2016, she was appointed Justice Secretary by Theresa May, succeeding Michael Gove.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

Truss was born in Oxford, England. She was raised in a northern, left-wing household; her father, John Truss, is a professor of pure mathematics at the University of Leeds; her mother was a nurse, teacher, and member of the CND.[7] Truss has described both as being "to the left of Labour".[3] When Truss later ran for election to Parliament, her mother agreed to campaign for her and her father declined to do so.[3][8]

Truss attended a state primary school in Paisley, in Scotland,[3] followed by Roundhay School, a comprehensive school in north-east Leeds. She lived in Canada for a year, and contrasts the competitive attitude in schooling there with the "trendy" education she received in Leeds.[3] She read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Merton College, Oxford.

After graduating in 1996, Truss worked for Shell as a commercial manager and Cable & Wireless as economics director, and became a qualified management accountant.[9] Truss became the deputy director of Reform in January 2008,[10] where she advocated more rigorous academic standards in schools, a greater focus on tackling serious and organised crime, and urgent action to deal with Britain's falling competitiveness. She co-authored The Value of Mathematics[11] and A New Level[12] amongst other reports.

Truss was President of Oxford University Liberal Democrats and expressed republican sentiments at the 1994 Liberal Democrats conference.[13][14] Truss joined the Conservative Party in 1996.[15] She served as the chairman of the Lewisham Deptford Conservative Association from 1998 to 2000.[15] She was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Greenwich in 2006, standing down in 2010, shortly before the end of her term of office.

Candidacy and deselection attempt[edit]

She had previously unsuccessfully fought the parliamentary seats of Hemsworth in 2001 and Calder Valley in 2005.[16]

She was added to the Conservative Party's controversial 'A List' and, in October 2009, she was selected for the South West Norfolk seat by members of the constituency Conservative Association. She won over 50% of the vote in the first round of the final against five other candidates, one of whom was local to the county.[17][18]

Shortly after her selection, some members of the constituency Association objected to Truss's selection, claiming that information about her extramarital affair with Conservative MP Mark Field (reported to have taken place over an 18 month period, from 2004 to 2005) had been withheld from the members.[19][20] A motion was proposed to terminate Truss's candidature, but this was defeated by 132 votes to 37 at a general meeting of the Association's members three weeks later.[21]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Following her election to the House of Commons on 6 May 2010, Truss campaigned for issues including the retention of the RAF Tornado base at RAF Marham in her constituency;[22] over seven months she asked 13 questions in the Commons about RAF Marham, secured a special debate on the subject, wrote dozens of letters to ministers and collected signatures on a petition which was delivered to Downing Street.[23] She also successfully lobbied for the dualling of the A11 west of Thetford.[24] With an eye on the Thetford Forest, in her constituency, she spoke out against the proposal to sell off forests[25] and played a leading role in preventing a waste incinerator being built in West Norfolk.[23] Her work to campaign for design improvements to road junctions in her constituency, notably the A47, led to her being named Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month by road safety charity Brake in January 2013.[26]

In March 2011, she wrote a paper for the liberal think-tank CentreForum in which she argued for an end to bias against serious academic subjects in the education system so that social mobility can be improved.[27] Truss wrote a further paper for the same think-tank in May 2012, in which she argued for change in the structure of the childcare market in Britain.[28]

In October 2011, she founded the Free Enterprise Group, which has been supported by over 40 other Conservative MPs.[29] In September 2011, together with four other members of the Free Enterprise Group, she had co-authored After the Coalition, a book which sought to challenge the consensus that Britain's economic decline is inevitable by arguing for the return of a more entrepreneurial and meritocratic culture.[30] A further volume by the same authors, Britannia Unchained, billed as "an insightful and critical assessment of Britain's challenges in the face of future uncertainty", was published in September 2012.[31] As part of a serialisation in The Daily Telegraph, Truss wrote an article previewing her chapter on the importance of science in education.[32] The piece was praised by the physicist Brian Cox as an "excellent article".[33]

Truss has championed Britain following Germany's lead in allowing people to have tax-free and less-heavily regulated "mini-jobs".[34] Since Truss published a paper on the policy for the Free Enterprise Group in February 2012, the policy has been examined by the Treasury as a policy to promote growth.[35][36]

Truss has campaigned for improved teaching of more rigorous school subjects, especially mathematics. She has publicised that only 20% of British students study maths to 18,[37] and called for maths classes to be compulsory for all of those in full-time education.[38] Truss herself studied double A-level maths.[37] She has argued that comprehensive school pupils are being "mis-sold" easy, low-value subjects to boost school results: with comprehensive school pupils six times as likely to take media studies at A-level as privately educated pupils.[39] Truss has also criticised the over-reliance on calculators to the detriment of mental arithmetic.[40]

From March 2011, she was a Member of the Justice Select Committee[41] remaining on the committee until her appointment as a government minister.

Junior Minister in the Department for Education[edit]

Truss at the think-tank Policy Exchange in 2013

On 4 September 2012, Truss was appointed as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education, with responsibility for childcare and early learning, assessment, qualifications and curriculum reform, behaviour and attendance, and school food review.[42] In this role, she developed some of the policy areas that she had pursued as a backbencher.

In January 2013, she announced proposals to reform A-Levels, by concentrating examinations at the end of two-year courses.[43] She sought to improve British standards in maths for fear that children are falling behind those in Asian countries,[44] and led a fact-finding visit to visit schools and teacher-training centres in Shanghai in February 2014 to see how children there have become the best in the world at maths.[45]

Truss also outlined plans to reform childcare, intended to overhaul childcare qualifications, and provide more choice of quality education and care for parents.[46] The proposed reforms were broadly welcomed by some organisations such as the charity 4Children,[47] the Confederation of British Industry[48] and the College of West Anglia.[49] However, the proposals met opposition from others. The TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady and the then Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg were among those criticising the reforms,[50] echoed by some parents and childcare bodies, such as the charity National Day Nurseries Association.[51]

The columnist Polly Toynbee was highly critical of the minister's plans,[52] and challenged Truss to demonstrate how to care for two babies alongside four toddlers on her own. Truss responded to Toynbee's challenge by saying that being an early educator was a very demanding job, requiring great and specialist expertise, for which she was not trained.[53] In the event, aspects of the reforms relating to relaxation of childcare ratios were blocked by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.[54]

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs[edit]

In a 15 July 2014 cabinet reshuffle, Truss was appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, replacing Owen Paterson, and becoming the youngest female cabinet minister in British history.[55][56] In apparent contrast to her predecessor,[57] Truss declared that she fully believed that climate change is happening,[58] and that "human beings have contributed to that."[59]

In November 2014, Truss launched a new 10-year bee and pollinator strategy to try and reverse the trend of falling bee populations,[60] including a strategy to revive traditional meadows which provide the most fertile habitat for pollinators. In July 2015, she approved the limited temporary lifting of an EU ban on the use of two neonicotinoid pesticides, enabling their use for 120 days on about 5% of England’s oil seed rape crop to ward off the cabbage stem flea beetle;[61] campaigners have warned that pesticides have been shown to harm bees by damaging their renowned ability to navigate home.[62] Liz Truss' 2014 remarks that "we import two-thirds of our cheese", and "opening up new pork markets" in Beijing were widely mocked on social media and on the satirical current affairs programme, Have I Got News For You?[63][64][65]

Truss cut taxpayer subsidies for solar panels on agricultural land, as her view was that the land could be better used to grow crops, food and vegetables.[66] She described farming and food as "hotbeds of innovation"[67] and promoted the production and export of British food, including cheese, pork pies and apples.[68]

In March 2015 she was one of only two Cabinet Ministers to vote against the government's proposals to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, in what was technically a free vote.[69]


Critics who have attempted to engage with her, according to George Monbiot in The Guardian,[70] have said that she is "indissolubly wedded to a set of theories about how the world should be, that are impervious to argument, facts or experience. She was among the first ministers to put her own department on the block in the latest spending review, volunteering massive cuts. She seems determined to dismantle the protections that secure our quality of life: the rules and agencies defending the places and wildlife we love."[70]

Secretary of State for Justice[edit]

On 14 July 2016, Truss was appointed as Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor in Theresa May's first ministry. Truss is the first woman to hold either position. The decision to appoint her was criticised by the then Minister of State for Justice Edward Faulks, Baron Faulks who resigned from the government saying "I have nothing against Ms Truss personally, but is she going to have the clout to be able to stand up to the prime minister when necessary, on behalf of the judges? Is she going to be able to stand up, come the moment, to the prime minister, for the rule of law and for the judiciary . . . without fear of damaging her career? It is a big ask."[71]



  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59418. p. 8744. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  3. ^ a b c d e Asthana, Anushka (9 June 2012). "The lady's for turning, right from CND to Conservative". The Times. Retrieved 30 July 2012-07-30.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "Elizabeth Truss MP". Department for Education. 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  5. ^ News, B. B. C. "Theresa May's new cabinet: Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan axed". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-07-14. 
  6. ^ Louis Gerber (2010-05-06). "Liz Truss is the new Secretary of Justice". Cosmopolis.ch. Retrieved 2016-07-17. 
  7. ^ "Profile: Elizabeth Truss". The Sunday Times. 8 November 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  8. ^ Forsyth, James (23 June 2012). "Next right". The Spectator. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  9. ^ "Biography", Elizabeth Truss' official website
  10. ^ "Guardian contributor page". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  11. ^ "The value of mathematics", Reform, June 2008
  12. ^ "A new level", Reform, June 2009
  13. ^ Truss flirted with Lib Dems before embracing Tories, The Times, 17 July 2014
  14. ^ Liberal Democrat conference: the spirit of Roy Jenkins lives on, The Guardian, 4 September 2012
  15. ^ a b "Elizabeth Truss MP". BBC Democracy Live (BBC). Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  16. ^ "Electoral History and Profile", The Guardian
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  18. ^ "Iain Dale's EDP column", Eastern Daily Press, 31 October 2009
  19. ^ “Tory's affair details 'withheld at meeting'”, "Eastern Daily Press" 30 October 2009
  20. ^ "A field day for the Tory old guard", by Andy McSmith, The Independent, 16 November 2009
  21. ^ "Tory woman wins selection battle", BBC News, 17 November 2009
  22. ^ "Campaign aim to keep Tornado base at RAF Marham", BBC News, 13 November 2010
  23. ^ a b "Elizabeth Truss joins the cabinet table in reshuffle", BBC News, 18 July 2014
  24. ^ "Former minister’s regret over A11 dualling", EDP, 17 March 2011
  25. ^ "Government urged to grant heritage status to Thetford Forest", EDP, 2 February 2011
  26. ^ "Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month", Brake, January 2013
  27. ^ "Academic rigour and social mobility: how low income students are being kept out of top jobs", CentreForum, 15 March 2011
  28. ^ "Affordable quality: new approaches to childcare", CentreForum, May 2012
  29. ^ "Free Enterprise Group", FEG website
  30. ^ "After the Coalition", Biteback Publishing, 16 September 2011
  31. ^ "Britannia Unchained", Palgrave Macmillan
  32. ^ "We must shift science out of the geek ghetto", The Daily Telegraph, 4 September 2012
  33. ^ "Brian Cox tweet", Twitter, 4 September 2012
  34. ^ Jowit, Juliette (19 August 2012). "Treasury considers bid to boost employment with tax-free 'mini-jobs'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-09-08. 
  35. ^ Cooper, Rachel (20 August 2012). "Treasury 'considers tax-free mini-jobs to spur employment'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-09-08. 
  36. ^ Warrell, Helen; Bryant, Chris (19 August 2012). "Treasury weighs German 'mini jobs' scheme". Financial Times. Retrieved 2012-09-08. 
  37. ^ a b McGurran, Deborah (28 March 2012). "Norfolk MP calls for cash for maths". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  38. ^ Coughlan, Sean (21 June 2012). "Maths should be compulsory until 18, says MP report". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  39. ^ Paton, Graeme (15 June 2011). "Comprehensive school pupils 'mis-sold' soft A-level courses". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  40. ^ McGurran, Deborah (1 December 2011). "Elizabeth Truss in a calculated move on maths". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  41. ^ "Justice committee – membership", UK Parliament, March 2011
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  48. ^ "Coalition promises 'More Great Childcare' amid growing anxiety in the nursery sector", daynurseries.co.uk, 29 January 2013
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  50. ^ "Childcare plans will hit standards, Labour warns", Channel 4 News, 29 January 2013
  51. ^ "Quality of early education must not be sacrificed if we want More Great Childcare says national charity", NDNA, 29 January 2013
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  54. ^ "Childcare Ratio Shake-Up Blocked By Clegg", Sky News, 6 June 2013
  55. ^ Ridge, Sophy. "Cameron's reshuffle: gender isn't the only thing women MPs have to offer". The Telegraph. The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  56. ^ "Biography", gov.uk. Retrieved 18 July 2014
  57. ^ "Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to deliver keynote speech at climate-sceptic organisation's lecture", Independent, 18 July 2014
  58. ^ "Environment Secretary Liz Truss says climate change 'is happening'", Western Morning News, 9 January 2015
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  60. ^ "Liz Truss: leave lawnmower in the shed to protect UK’s bees", The Guardian, 4 November 2014
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  62. ^ "Pesticides linked to honeybee decline", The Guardian, 29 March 2012
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  65. ^ "This Tory Minister Is More Excited About Pork Than Anyone Has Ever Been". BuzzFeed.
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  67. ^ "Environment Secretary Liz Truss flies the flag for British apples", Western Daily Press, 25 September 2014
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  69. ^ "Cigarettes to be sold in plain packets by 2016", The Times, 12 March 2015
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  71. ^ Gibb, Frances (19 July 2016). "Justice minister quits with blast at ‘novice’ lord chancellor". The Times. Retrieved 19 July 2016. (subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Christopher Fraser
Member of Parliament
for South West Norfolk

Political offices
Preceded by
Owen Paterson
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Succeeded by
Andrea Leadsom
Preceded by
Michael Gove
Secretary of State for Justice
Lord Chancellor
Order of precedence in England and Wales
Preceded by
The Dowager Countess of Harewood
as Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
Theresa May
as Prime Minister