Liz Truss threw down the gauntlet by advising Rishi Sunak, her successor as prime minister, to maintain the anticipated increase in defence spending and to “be bold.” Seneca, a Roman philosopher, once said: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” In her final speech outside No. 10 on Tuesday, Truss displayed no trace of regret for the upheaval that consumed her 50-day premiership.
Before being driven off in a car to Buckingham Palace to formally present her resignation to the king, Truss wished Sunak “every success” while being flanked by her advisers and supporters on one side and her husband and two children on the other.
As she announced her resignation, the outgoing prime minister said she was “more persuaded than ever we need to be courageous and confront the issues we face” and that she still supported cutting taxes and bolstering the country’s defences.
Those remarks will be viewed as a challenge to Sunak, who initiated the national insurance increase that she later reversed and has noticeably not vowed to increase defence expenditure to 3% of GDP by the end of the decade.
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Truss admitted that her time in office was “short,” but she boasted of her accomplishments, which included making it easier for millions of people to pay their energy bills, preventing the bankruptcy of thousands of businesses, and taking steps to increase energy resilience.
She reaffirmed her support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia and said it had been an honour to lead the country in mourning Queen Elizabeth’s passing and celebrating King Charles III’s accession. Truss stated that she was “looking forward to spending more time in my seat” in South West Norfolk when asked about her plans for the future after leaving Downing Street.
Truss ended her comments by evoking the unwavering optimism that served as a pillar of her leadership campaign during the summer and said, “Our country continues to battle through a storm, but I believe in Britain, I believe in the British people, and I know brighter days are ahead.”
There was little indication of Truss’s emotional state throughout the address, which was barely over three minutes long. This was in stark contrast to Theresa May’s and Boris Johnson’s speeches, in which they both attacked the “herd mentality” of the Conservative Party.