ANALYSIS: To replace a failing prime minister hopefuls like Liz Truss will need a solid plan
PUBLISHED: 10:20 01 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:47 01 April 2019
Despite Liz Truss’ denial she was after the prime minister’s job in this newspaper two weeks ago, it’s been difficult to ignore the South West Norfolk MP’s presence in the national papers and on Radio since.
With big profile pieces in The Times and the Telegraph, where Ms Truss has set out what could be key policies, and appearances on Radio 4 amongst others, a leadership bid could be in the offing.
Ms Truss is not alone - plenty of Tory heavyweights seem to have their eye on the job - but she was first out of the blocks as she called for the Conservative party to “remodernise”.
Ms Truss, who backed Remain in the referendum and was previously in charge at the Ministry of Justice and Defra, picked out cutting taxes for businesses and stamp duty for young home buyers as key policies.
She also appeared to be keen to show that she has a sense of humour, joking about a 2014 speech in which she branded Britain’s cheese trade deficit a “disgrace” that led her to be ridiculed online.
She told The Times: “Sometimes politics can be in danger of being managerial. The Conservative Party needs to remodernise. We need to be optimistic, aspirational. We need to participate in the battle of ideas. We haven’t been doing.”
So could Ms Truss be the next Tory leader?
Perhaps, but her remainer past could hurt her - even though she was soon to change her mind to back leave after the referendum.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling has suggested that the current political climate means the next leader must be a Brexiteer through and through, and he may be right.
But then the Conservative Party is so split it may be that they cannot agree on a majority (sound familiar?) and Ms Truss could pull ahead from behind with second preferences.
What is clear is Mrs May’s time will soon be up, and if history teaches us anything a strong leader is needed to turn fortunes around.
Take December 1916, when David Lloyd George replaced the failing Herbert Asquith with a new plan for winning the war.
Or May 1940, when Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain with a new purpose to take war to Germany.
While in 1957 Harold Macmillan replaced Anthony Eden after Suez, with a plan for national recovery.
The problem now, in 2019, is do any of these leadership candidates have the support to find consensus.
And more to the point, do they have a plan?