Former British PM Liz Truss announces new political movement ahead of polls

Ex-PM Liz Truss unveils ‘Popular Conservatism’ movement, urges Conservative Party to shift to the political right.

Britain's former Prime Minister Liz Truss
Britain's former Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks at the official launch event for the 'Popular Conservatism' movement, in London, the United Kingdom [Toby Melville/Reuters]

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss has announced a new movement aiming to push the ruling Conservative Party more toward the right of the political spectrum.

Truss – Britain’s shortest-serving leader, who was in office for only 49 days- announced the “Popular Conservatism” movement on Tuesday alongside former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg.

She said it was time to listen to voters and return to traditional conservative values on issues such as immigration, climate change and state regulation.

“The fundamental issue is that for years and years and years … Conservatives have not taken on the left-wing extremists,” Truss said at the party’s launch.

“And the problem is when we don’t know what we stand for, when we’re not prepared to stand up for conservative values, who is?” she asked.

Truss blamed her colleagues in the party for trying to be “popular at London dinner parties” rather than defending conservative ideals and challenging “wokeism” and climate narratives.

Rees-Mogg attacked human rights legislation, and railed against the “international elite”, adding that the “age of Davos man is over”.

Tory Deputy Party Chairman Lee Anderson, who also attended, argued that Britons care little about hitting net-zero carbon targets.

Truss’s brief stint as prime minister was marred by a damaging mini-budget that sunk the pound and affected financial markets.

Since leaving office, Truss has urged the government to cut taxes, disregard net-zero commitments and increase the retirement age from its current age of 66.

But she remains a deeply unpopular politician among the British public, which faces a cost-of-living crisis that economists say her budget was partly responsible for.

Prime minister, Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during a press conference in Downing Street in London on January 18, 2024 [File: Stefan Rousseau/Pool via Reuters]

The Conservative Party, which has been in power for almost 14 years, is currently lagging behind the opposition Labour Party in the polls ahead of the general election later this year.

The creation of a new conservative group in a party already divided over immigration and Brexit is another obstacle for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his attempts to bring his party together before the election.

Last month, Truss ally MP Simon Clark urged Sunak to step down before the election. However, the new movement has said they are not calling for Sunak to be replaced as Tory leader.

The director of Popular Conservatism, Mark Littlewood, said that the group had not been formed to influence the leadership of the party and wanted Sunak to lead it into the election.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies