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Liz Truss: what she said about cheese and pork markets in speech - and does she support PM Boris Johnson?

From being mocked for her outrage about cheese imports to being appointed to one of the great offices of state - Liz Truss’s career explained

Russia will be “punished” if the country pushes ahead with any “destabilising action” in Ukraine, Downing Street has warned.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned Vladimir Putin he must “desist and step back” from war in Ukraine or risk being dragged into a prolonged conflict like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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Speaking at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, she said: “If there is an incursion by Russia into Ukraine, it would come at a massive cost.

“We are prepared to put very severe sanctions in place, we are also working to support Ukraine in terms of defensive capability.”

But who is Liz Truss, and what are her opinions on Boris Johnson’s leadership?

Who is Liz Truss?

Brought up in Yorkshire, the married mother-of-two, whose relationship survived an affair with former Tory MP Mark Field before her election to the Commons, boasts an impressive CV.

Defying her upbringing by left-leaning parents, Truss has held posts such as education minister, environment secretary and justice secretary in previous Conservative governments.

Elected to Parliament in 2010, she previously worked in the energy and telecommunications industry and is a qualified management accountant.

From being mocked for her outrage about cheese imports to being appointed to one of the great offices of state, Truss has made a steady rise up the Cabinet ladder.

She has been rewarded after being seen to have made a success of her international trade secretary post.

Truss underwent a transformation from being pro-Remain to an avid Brexiteer following the referendum in 2016.

While the Government faced tough headlines about deadlock in the negotiations with the European Union during the Brexit transition period, the South West Norfolk MP made a host of trade deals for the UK, ensuring the terms agreed while an EU member were ready to continue after exiting the bloc.

A coveted trade deal with the US eluded her, but Truss won plaudits in the Conservative Party for securing new terms with Japan and Australia, while a New Zealand agreement is said to be nearing completion.

Her Labour critics, however, bemoan that she did not deliver a “single trade deal that we didn’t already have inside the EU”, calling the praise within Government for her performance overblown.

What is her relationship with Boris Johnson?

Boris Johnson and Liz Truss at the Houses of Parliament in June 2019 (Photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Truss has supported Boris Johnson and said “there is no leadership election” amid pressure on him to resign as Prime Minister.

While Tory MPs continue to disagree over his position, Ms Truss told reporters during a visit to Australia that Johnson “100%” has her support and she wants him to “continue as long as possible in his job”.

Speaking at the Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Consultations (Aukmin) in Sydney, she said: “The Prime Minister has my 100% support. He is doing an excellent job. Britain was one of the first countries to roll out the Covid vaccine.

“We’ve had a very successful booster programme. We’re now able to open up our economy again in Britain and we’ve got one of the fastest-growing economies in the G7.

“And the reason that we are here in Australia is working with our very close partners, to advance freedom and democracy around the world, and to protect our country.

“I want the Prime Minister to continue as long as possible in his job. He is doing a fantastic job. There is no leadership election.”

This comes amid more infighting within the Conservative Party as reports suggested rebel Tory MPs are considering publishing a secret recording and text messages linked to allegations of “blackmail” from the Prime Minister’s supporters.

Johnson insisted on Thursday (20 January) he had “seen no evidence” to support the claim made by senior Conservative William Wragg that his critics were facing “intimidation” as part of an effort to prevent him being ousted from office.

Where was she educated?

Truss studied philosophy, politics and economics at Merton College, Oxford, where she became president of the University Liberal Democrats.

Almost half of Johnson’s new Cabinet went to Oxford or Cambridge universities and 60% attended a private school, a social mobility charity has said.

The percentage privately educated is down slightly on the Prime Minister’s previous cabinets, data from the Sutton Trust suggested.

New Foreign Secretary Truss, Housing Secretary Michael Gove and Chancellor Rishi Sunak all attended Oxford University.

The trust said just over a quarter of Cabinet ministers attended both independent schools and Oxbridge.

What has she said about cheese?

Truss - then Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - addresses the Conservative party conference in 2014 (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Away from politics, Truss’s flair for social media has seen her offer an insight into her private life by updating her Instagram account with pictures of her relaxing at the beach, or behind the scenes at official events.

Infamously, the worlds of social media and politics combined in 2014, when her improbably enthusiastic speech about opening pork markets in Beijing went viral, pilloried on satirical programmes such as Have I Got News For You?

She caused further hilarity when telling the Tory Party conference that year: “We import two-thirds of our cheese, that is a disgrace.”

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