Kwasi Kwarteng defends Liz Truss's changing political views
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Sources have said that the Foreign Secretary will choose the current Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, described as “a close friend” who backed her from the start of the contest, to steer her economic policy and bring in tax cuts if she becomes Prime Minister. It comes as polls of Tory members suggest she is well ahead of her rival – the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the race to replace Boris Johnson. The bold move would make Ms Coffey Britain”s first female Chancellor.
With expectations mounting that Ms Truss will be the next Prime Minister, MPs are already trying to work out who will be in her top team.
Ms Truss is said to be close to Ms Coffey, the 50-year-old Suffolk Coastal MP and karaoke fanatic, who was a Boris Johnson loyalist, like her.
But the choice has split Tory MPs with some horrified by the prospect of Ms Cofffey in the Treasury despite her holding the difficult Department for Work and Pensions steady during the pandemic.
Ms Truss’ chief backers in the European Research Group (ERG), who helped her get to the final two, are pushing for Sir John Redwood to be given the post.
Sir John served as Sir John Major’s Welsh Secretary, but more importantly, was a key figure in Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit, is a Fellow of an Oxford College and is seen as one of the best brains on the right of the party.
The other two choices on the list are Jacob Rees-Mogg, currently the minister for Brexit Opportunities and another key backer of the Foreign Secretary.
The final option could be Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, another long-time friend who also introduced her officially at her campaign launch.
One senior MP told Express.co.uk: “The word is that Therese Coffey is a certainty for the job whether people like it or not.”
Another added: “Liz had problems initially getting people around her and appreciates those who backed her from the beginning.
“Therese is an obvious choice for her and the two are close.”
A third said: “The untold story of lockdown is that the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) is a disaster and has been allowed to drift under Coffey.
“She shouldn’t be in Government let alone running economic policy, but Prime Minister’s want their friends and allies around them.”
However, a former Downing Street insider described Ms Coffey as “seriously underrated and always valued by the boss (Boris Johnson).”
A senior member of the ERG meanwhile insisted that Ms Truss needed to stick to an agreement to have senior people from the right of the party in key positions.
The veteran Brexiteer MP said: “The problem with Boris [Johnson] was that he reneged on his deal to have sound people around him.
“Instead, he went with his friends in Cabinet and people like Dominic Cummings as his chief of staff.
“It is important that Liz does not make the same mistake and appoints strong characters around her who can help her take the Government in the right direction.”
The source added: “There is no doubt that John Redwood is the best qualified person to be Chancellor and would be a superb choice.
“He would certainly be able to deliver the economic policy that Liz has been proposing in this contest.”
Both Ms Truss and Mr Sunak have insisted that they have not promised anybody a job during the campaign.
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If confirmed, Ms Coffey would make history.
Since Eustace of Fauconberg, the Bishop of London, was appointed as the first Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1221 only men have held the role making it one of the last great offices of state for a woman to attain.
So if Ms Truss becomes Britain’s third female Prime Minister the expectation is that she will also appoint Britain’s first female Chancellor.
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