LONDON — A member of the U.K. government took a sideswipe at Liz Truss after the prime minister saw her first weeks in the job descend into chaos.
Trade Minister Conor Burns suggested Truss prioritized presentation over substance in her time as trade department chief, as he tipped one of her former leadership rivals as a future Conservative saviour.
He made the comments after Truss was forced into a humiliating U-turn over a controversial tax cut for the richest in Britain that was a centerpiece of her government’s mini-budget.
Speaking at a fringe event during the Conservative conference in Birmingham, Burns said there was “not a huge amount of good news that is going to be emanating from the government in the coming months. The one department that will have some good news is the Department for International Trade.”
And as he praised new international trade chief Kemi Badenoch he also took more direct aim at Truss, who became famous for her optimistic social media presence during her time as trade secretary under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Some officials took to labeling the Department for International Trade the “Department for Instagramming Truss” during her tenure.
“Kemi totally gets that trade needs to move beyond Instagram posts about free trade agreements and needs to actually focus on delivering for companies the support to unleash the potential that the free trade agreements open up,” he said.
Badenoch ran an insurgent campaign during the recent Tory leadership contest and came fourth overall. Truss appointed her as international trade secretary after the race. Burns said Badenoch was “the future of our party,” amid speculation about whether Truss will survive as prime minister for long.
He added that he was “not a big fan of talking about bigger cakes” — after Truss repeatedly said she was focused on growing the size of the U.K.’s economic “pie” rather than redistributing it. However Burns did insist the trade agenda was a crucial element of growing the economy.
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