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Truss is no Thatcher, but she could be a Merkel

Truss: she might surprise us. Leon Neal/Getty Images

Leaders prosper by “eliciting respect or love”, says Sebastian Mallaby in The Washington Post. Liz Truss has it tough on both fronts. She is “far less loved and respected” among her colleagues than Rishi Sunak, who secured more votes from Tory MPs in the first stage of the leadership race. And it doesn’t help that unlike her hero, Margaret Thatcher, Truss is not a “conviction politician”. Her U-turns – notably from staunch Remainer to “firm foe of Europe” – make her appear “too opportunistic” to command respect from ideologues. As for inspiring love, Truss is simply “not charming enough”. In Monday’s victory speech, “the punchlines were so flat” that even the diehard Tory audience didn’t know when to clap.

But Truss has her strengths: she is “driven rather than lazy, a fighter rather than a narcissistic prince”. In this respect, she is much like Angela Merkel. The “steely German pragmatist” was neither “charismatic nor particularly principled”. Yet she managed to dominate German politics for 15 years – proof that hard-working, practical leaders can “generate enduring political success”. Truss was canny enough to land Cabinet roles under the last three PMs “despite the bitter divisions among them”. She has now grafted her way to a job few thought she could ever get. She might be “unlikely to win the hearts of Britain’s voters” and is certainly not the Thatcher she aspires to be. “But, by dint of determination and sound political instinct, she might still surprise.”