'She doesn’t have any answers': The view of Liz Truss in her own back yard

·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·5-min read
Thetford
Pub owner Trevor said Liz Truss doesn't seem to have a plan. (Nadine Batchelor-Hunt)

Liz Truss is continuing to battle into the final week of the Tory party leadership contest, with the victor announced on 5 September.

The foreign secretary is the clear favourite after a campaign that has seen her prove popular with Tory members while being backed by a number of high-profile Conservative MPs and ministers.

However, in her own constituency of South West Norfolk, there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm in their MP's bid to be the country's next prime minister.

Read more: Britons will pay £273 on energy bills before they even use any fuel, says Martin Lewis

Truss has been MP in the ultra-safe Tory seat since 2010, when she secured a 13,000 majority over Labour.

Since then she has steadily become more popular and was untouchable in the 2019 election, winning with a 26,000 margin.

In Thetford, a market town close to the border with Suffolk, businesses on the picturesque high street are anxious about their prospects under a Truss government – with the cost-of-living crisis dominating the agenda.

Soaring energy bills and rising inflation are not only increasing their running costs, but are also leaving customers with less money in their pockets.

Main pedestrianized shopping street in the town of Thetford, Norfolk, England. (Photo by: Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Thetford is the largest town in Liz Truss' constituency. (Getty Images)

"The cost of supplies has rocketed," says Sharon, the 48-year-old owner of Technique's hairdressers in Thetford town centre, which she opened 14 years ago.

"Some customers used to have their hair done every week, now they have it done every fortnight," she tells Yahoo News UK.

"Or they're not going to come in every six weeks, they want to come in every eight or 10."

Read more: Food prices rising at fastest rate since 2008 as inflation surges

Trevor, the 60-year-old owner of The Railway Tavern next to Thetford station, is worried about the rise in the cost of products.

"Cleaning products cost more week to week," he says. "Even stuff for decorating has gone up – we've just opened, so we're still decorating and its become more expensive."

Thetford
Ice cream man Anwar, 59, says he's seeing less people shopping at the market as the cost-of-living crisis bites. (Nadine Batchelor-Hunt)

He fears that he will have to pass the cost on to customers who will be struggling with rising costs, too.

David, 54, owns a small tech accessories store on Thetford's high street. "I've switched this fridge off," he says.

"I know it's only a small shop, but I'm noticing the the rise in running costs – I'm worried about it."

Read more: 'It's a bit smug': Liz Truss attacked as 'supporters say Tory contest is in the bag'

Anwar, a 59-year-old ice cream man in the heart of town, said he's also seeing an impact.

‘There’s a market here... look at that," he gestures to the empty square.

"There’s no one in town… we’re seeing a big drop in footfall."

All the businesses Yahoo News UK spoke to in Thetford said they worry they'll have to close.

So do locals think their MP has a plan?

Thetford
Hairdresser Sharon said she's not been following the leadership contest closely. (Nadine Batchelor-Hunt)

"Liz Truss doesn’t have any answers," says Trevor. "She doesn’t seem to be doing much."

He has seen Truss twice in the constituency, observing that "it seems like she's waiting for the leadership contest to be done." But, he warns, help is needed urgently.

"The government need to do something very, very quickly... energy company profits should be capped, why should they be making such massive profits when people are struggling so much?"

Read more: Cost of living crisis: Liz Truss 'rules out' more direct financial help for all households

Sharon, who did not know Truss was her MP, admits she's not following the contest that closely, but says she does need to act.

“Liz Truss, I don’t seem to like her as much [as Rishi]," she says. “But at the minute, we’re all just waiting for the help to arrive.”

Anwar, like Sharon, hasn't followed the contest closely – and does not know what Truss would do if she wins.

Liz Truss during a hustings event at the Holiday Inn, in Norwich North, Norfolk, as part of her campaign to be leader of the Conservative Party and the next prime minister. Picture date: Thursday August 25, 2022.
Liz Truss is the bookies' favourite to win the Tory leadership contest and become the next prime minister. (PA)

"She’s been round here a few times," he says. "I'll be honest, I've not been following it all that closely. But people want to see this cost of living sorted out."

He adds: ‘Why are [energy companies] messing around with this electric and gas? The government are making billions out of it, the companies are making billions out of it."

And over at the tech shop, David questioned if MPs understand what people are going through.

Read more: Liz Truss: Who is her husband Hugh O'Leary and do they have children?

"I don’t know if MPs all live in the real world," says David.

It seems Truss's promises of driving growth through slashing taxes is yet to cut through with her constituents, whose concerns about the cost of living crisis dominate the conversation.

Unless she manages to persuade the country she is on their side during the crisis, this is a challenge she will continue face nationally when the contest draws to a close on 5 September.

Watch: Truss attacks ‘Treasury orthodoxy’ as she promotes tax-cutting leadership pitch