In Liz we Trusst?
Britain has a new Prime Minister, and with all new Prime Ministers comes a new cabinet of ministers. In Teresa May’s re-shuffle a few weeks ago, we have seen Michael Gove leave the position as Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor. Many in the legal sector feared a return of Chris Grayling, whose reforms to courts and prisons had proved controversial. Instead however Liz Truss, former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has been appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor. She will be the first woman in history to hold either post (in the case of the post of Lord Chancellor, the first woman since 1066).
Who is Liz Truss?
Liz Truss is the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk. She studied Politics, Economics and Philosophy at university, has a working background in sales and economics and has a known passion for education reform, specifically focusing on mathematics.
In 2012 she was appointed to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education, as part of the coalition government. During her tenure she attempted to push reform of A-Levels, childcare, childcare qualifications, and choice of quality education and care for parents.
In 2014 she was appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, becoming the youngest female cabinet minister in British history. Whilst in office Liz was responsible for bee and pollinator strategy to try and reverse the trend of falling bee populations.
Liz’s time in politics has not been without its controversies. In 2015 she allowed for a limited temporary lifting of an EU ban on the use of two neonicotinoid pesticides, drawing criticisms from many due to their link to negative effects on bees. More famously, in 2014 her comments “we import two-thirds of our cheese”, and “opening up new pork markets” during a trip to Beijing went viral and were widely mocked on social media.
What does this mean for the law?
The policies of Michael Gove during his time as Justice Secretary have broadly been regarded as a positive change in attitude towards legal aid and prison reforms following the coalition government. With Gove now gone the question is raised as to whether Liz will continue in a similar vein, or will revert to policies similar to those of Chris Grayling.
Whilst being another example of a Justice Secretary with no legal background, she was a member of the justice select committee prior to her appointment as government minister. She has been vocal regarding the scrapping of the Human Rights Act 1998 in lieu of a British Bill of rights, and she has a track record of voting for restrictions to legal aid. Liz also, whilst campaigning for Britain to remain
Shortly after Liz was appointed on Thursday 14th July, she tweeted;
‘Delighted to be appointed Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. Looking forward to getting stuck in.’
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Joe Beet – OULS News Reporter