Liz Truss says Boris Johnson has the 'bravery' needed to deliver Brexit
PUBLISHED: 11:11 02 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:42 02 June 2019
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It was a "mistake" for the government to take a no-deal Brexit off the table, Elizabeth Truss has said.
The South West Norfolk MP said the Conservatives had "already lost a lot of public trust" over the UK's delayed departure from the EU and that leaving by the latest deadline of October 31 was now vital.
She said this urgency was a primary reason behind her decision to back frontrunner Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race, a choice revealed in an article for the Mail on Sunday.
Speaking to this newspaper on Sunday, Ms Truss said: "It is absolutely vital that we leave by October 31. I think we have already lost a lot of public trust and we have seen that reflected in the way that people voted in the European and local elections.
"From speaking to constituents across Norfolk I know how concerned they are that the government has not delivered on what they said they would. That is a big issue for me and Boris has said he will leave by October 31."
Ms Truss had already ruled herself out of the running for the top job, which she says is partly due to her supporting remain in the EU referendum campaign in 2016.
"One reason I didn't put myself forward is I have not always been a Brexit supporter and I feel given the situation that is what we need now," she said.
"If circumstances had been different, if we had delivered Brexit already it would be a much more open situation. It is the public's huge priority and I think we need someone who has the oomph to do it. It requires bravery - there will be a lot of people saying you cannot do this and you cannot do that."
Ms Truss, who was appointed as chief secretary to the Treasury in June 2017 and has also served as environment and justice secretary since being elected in 2010, said she would not speculate about her potential role in a Boris Johnson-led cabinet.
However, she said she supported his stance on business issues.
"Boris is a free enterprise Conservative. He believes in business, he wants to help businesses be successful, particularly small businesses. That is very important for getting our economy growing," she said.
"I will be working with him on those pro-business policies and policies to improve infrastructure, which is something I have campaigned for as a local MP.
"The delay [to Brexit] is really affecting business. People want to know what is happening and the business meetings I have had locally have suggested that.
"Taking no deal off the table was a mistake. I think we need to have it on the table and be prepared for no deal."
When questioned about the upcoming government spending review, Ms Truss said it would be down to the new prime minister and their government to decide what was prioritised.
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She added: "In terms of my role in the Boris campaign, I think areas like infrastructure, education and keeping taxes low for families are really important."
Who is running for Conservative leader?
So far 13 MPs have announced their candidacy in the Conservative leadership race, due to start after Theresa May steps down on June 7.
James Cleverly, Brexit minister and Braintree MP
Michael Gove, environment secretary and leadership candidate in the 2016 race
Sam Gyimah, former universities and science minister, backing a second referendum as part of his leadership bid
Matt Hancock, health secretary and West Suffolk MP
Mark Harper, former Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions minister, has not taken no-deal Brexit off the table
Jeremy Hunt, foreign secretary and former health secretary, remainer-turned-Brexiteer
Sajid Javid, home secretary, remain campaigner but doesn't hide his Euro-scepticism
Boris Johnson, former foreign secretary and Mayor of London, firm favourite in the race
Andrea Leadsom, former House of Commons leader and prominent Brexiteer, abandoned leadership bid in 2016
Kit Malthouse, housing minister who put a so-called Brexit compromise plan - named after himself - to the Commons
Esther McVey, former work and pensions secretary and Brexit supporter
Dominic Raab, former Brexit secretary and staunch Brexiteer
Rory Stewart, international development secretary