Rishi Sunak v. Liz Truss: What to know about the candidates to be the next U.K. prime minister


Truss, 46, is Britain’s first Tory female foreign secretary. She has generally won applause in Britain for her handling of the Ukraine war — and has been a target of criticism from Russia.

If she wins, she would be Britain’s third female prime minister — all of them from the Conservative Party. Although it is Sunak who has claimed to be the heir to Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, Truss has elicited comparisons, too. When she showed up at a televised leadership debate wearing a black jacket and white pussy-bow blouse that looked uncannily like Thatcher’s outfit during a 1979 election broadcast, social media brimmed with side-by-side images. Truss asserted: “I am my own person.” But she also talks about how she admires Thatcher’s boldness — especially her willingness to “challenge the groupthink” on the economy. Truss wants voters to think of her and her economic plan as bold, too. She has pledged to slash $36 billion in taxes, to be paid for through borrowing.

Truss entered Parliament in 2010 and previously served as minister for women and equalities, as well as working in the ministries overseeing education, the environment and justice. She has been a foot soldier in the “war against woke” attitudes about race, gender and sexuality.

Sunak and his supporters have tried to portray Truss as lacking conviction. She was a somewhat of a latecomer to the Conservative Party, having grown up in a left-wing family. Truss also opposed the Brexit referendum in 2016, but has since said she regrets that vote. She has been a prominent voice for the argument that Britain needs to rewrite the provisions on Northern Ireland in its post-Brexit trade agreement. As prime minister, she probably wouldn’t offer the European Union the improved relationship for which its leaders are hoping.

Adela Suliman and Annabelle Timsit in London and Adam Taylor in Washington contributed to this report.

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