Home Trending ‘Be bold’: Liz Truss lays down gauntlet to Rishi Sunak in final speech as UK prime minister

‘Be bold’: Liz Truss lays down gauntlet to Rishi Sunak in final speech as UK prime minister

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‘Be bold’: Liz Truss lays down gauntlet to Rishi Sunak in final speech as UK prime minister

An unapologetic Liz Truss urged her successor as prime minister to “be bold” as she laid down the gauntlet by suggesting Rishi Sunak should continue cutting taxes and keep the planned rise in defence spending.

In her final speech outside No 10 before going on holiday, Truss showed no sign of contrition for the chaos that engulfed her 50-day premiership.

Instead, she quoted the Roman philosopher Seneca, who said: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

Flanked by her aides and supporters on one side and husband and two daughters on the other, Truss wished Sunak “every success” before she was whisked away in a car to Buckingham Palace to formally tender her resignation to the king.

The outgoing prime minister said she was “more convinced than ever we need to be bold and confront the challenges we face”, saying she still believed in lower taxes and strengthening the UK’s defences.

Those statements will be seen as a challenge to Sunak, who introduced the national insurance rise she reversed and has notably not committed to raising defence spending to 3% of GDP by the end of the decade.

Truss acknowledged she had served for a “short period”, but trumpeted achievements including helping millions be able to afford energy bills, and stopping thousands of businesses from going bankrupt, as well as taking steps to ensure greater energy resilience.

She said it had been an honour to lead the UK in mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth and welcoming the accession of King Charles III, and reiterated her support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Looking ahead to her time after Downing Street, Truss said she was “looking forward to spending more time in my constituency” of South West Norfolk.

Channelling the undimmed optimism that was a key feature of her leadership campaign over the summer, Truss concluded her statement by saying: “Our country continues to battle through a storm, but I believe in Britain, I believe in the British people and I know brighter days lie ahead.”

The speech, which was just over three minutes long, gave little away about Truss’s emotional state – a marked difference from Boris Johnson’s, when he hit out at the Conservative party’s “herd mentality”, and Theresa May’s, when she became teary-eyed in her final moments.

Truss’s final address was met with a collective shrug of the shoulders from most Tory MPs. One said: “I don’t know why she did it at all, to be honest.” Another called it “all right”, and added there was “no need to dance on her grave”.

In the minutes before Truss gave the speech, her deputy prime minister, Thérèse Coffey, had taken a selfie with aides assembled in the corner of Downing Street to clap and cheer her on her way.

A No 10 source said Truss still thought her overall economic plan was the right one, and believed she would “keep making that point from the backbenches”.

After Truss left Buckingham Palace just before midday on Tuesday, she left for her holiday to enjoy some peace after a turbulent time in office, and to give her successor space as he settled into the new job.

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