Liz Truss: A dive into her inaugural Prime Minister’s Questions

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7th September 2022 became a critical day in the UK’s world of politics, as Liz Truss made her debut in the House of Commons as our new Prime Minister. Given the current political and economic climate, all eyes were fixed upon Truss as she began her first Prime Minister’s Questions.  

Straight away Truss’s performance radiated a cool, calm and collected manner as she stood strong in her navy suit. Regardless of the varying personal opinions towards Truss, I found it hard to deny her impressive ability to create a PMQ where we actually got answers. It was incredibly refreshing to witness a female politician, in a position of such power, hold her own and give people the “certainty” we need. In comparison to her previous speech outside 10 Downing Street, which I felt lacked any sort of charisma and character, I found myself being able to view Truss as a little more human and emotive in her dialect. Truss’ speech on 6th September matched the dreary, grey weather covering London and was largely filled with empty headline worthy phrases for the newspapers to grab hold of and an outline of her aims and three major policies. However, this starkly contrasts the impression she left in the House of Commons. Finally, we saw a policy versus policy debate between Truss and Keir Starmer. One where both parties kept level-headed, polite and concise. Perhaps long gone are the days of the PMQs entailing personality performances and attacks on individuals?  

Perhaps long gone are the days of the PMQs entailing personality performances and attacks on individuals?  

Fortunate enough to be in the hub of all the action at Westminster during PMQs, I spied Keir Starmer strolling through Portcullis House and was quick to ask his view on how his attempt at grilling Truss went. Starmer was quick to agree with my opinion of the event being “orderly”, stating that “it was very different to Boris Johnson”. Starmer unveiled to me how his main objective of the PMQ was to discover how Truss was planning on funding the energy price cap, of which she did in fact answer! It is clear Starmer will have to head back to his drawing room and brainstorm some new tactics for facing Truss in future PMQs, as she remains unphased after their first encounter.  

talking to Keir Starmer in Portcullis House. Image: Camilla Tominey

Throughout the questioning, I found Truss remained succinct and direct in her language – at times simply replying “yes”, causing politicians to erupt into laughter at this unheard-of response. Although at times the House of Commons descended into what can only be compared to rowdy schoolboys, Truss maintained her composure and held her own in an attempt to sway the public in her favour, or at least gain some respect. 

Although at times the House of Commons descended into what can only be compared to rowdy schoolboys, Truss maintained her composure and held her own in an attempt to sway the public in her favour, or at least gain some respect

Theresa May also made a surprise appearance as she popped up, unexpectedly, welcoming Truss and shedding light on how “all three female Prime ministers have been Conservative”. In response, Truss praised May on her “fantastic question”, using it to segway into a stab towards the Labour party and their consistent history of leaders from North London. Clearly Truss has done a 180 on her view of Leeds, now using it as a positive that differentiates her from other political leaders, despite recently severely criticising Roundhay School in Leeds. Whilst Truss clearly can’t quite escape the characteristic of hypocrisy that haunts political members, when merely glancing at her appointed Cabinet a flourish of diversity in race and gender is apparent – so some things are heading in the right direction. 

After spending the day surrounded by important figures in politics and finding myself discussing the PMQ in a candid manner with the likes of Andrew Marr, Sir Ian Duncan Smith, and Theresa Villiers, it became clear the general consensus of Truss’s first PMQ was largely positive – a resoundingly solid performance. Despite being considerably less charismatic and boisterous than Boris, perhaps Truss is the calm figure we need to ride out this “storm”. Ultimately, it is essential that the Conservative party unite together to best guide our country through this turbulent economic climate. Time is too precious to be wasted on personal attacks and sending empty, snide remarks flying to one another childishly in the House of Commons. We can only hope this solid start is the beginning of a successful and helpful series of Prime Minister Questions. 

Image: Lauren Hurley / No 10 Downing Street

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