Liz Truss faces criticism over leadership video

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss during a meeting with EU post-Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic at Cheven

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss during a meeting with EU post-Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic at Chevening in Kent. Picture date: Thursday January 13, 2022. - Credit: PA

Norfolk MP Liz Truss is facing criticism over claims she used taxpayer-funded footage in the video which launched her campaign to become Britain’s next prime minister.

The clip was released on Monday morning, when the foreign secretary announced that she was joining the race to succeed Boris Johnson.

It shows Ms Truss, who is also the MP for South West Norfolk, meeting a series of dignitaries from around the world, in footage which was first used in videos thought to have been produced by Foreign Office officials - and therefore funded by the taxpayer.

Questions have also been raised over the propriety of using government resources for a political campaign.

Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who chairs the Commons Committee on Standards, said: “It’s very disturbing that the foreign secretary doesn’t seem to understand the difference between the national interest and her personal interest.

Labour former minister Chris BryantPhoto: PA

Chris Bryant, chair of the Commons Committee on Standards, said Ms Truss "seems to have used her office solely to further her own career". - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

“It’s equally disturbing that she seems to have used her office solely to further her own career.”

The ministerial code, which provides guidelines for ministers, states: “Official facilities paid for out of public funds should be used for government publicity and advertising but may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political.”

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The Foreign Office was repeatedly approached for comment on whether Ms Truss’s campaign team asked permission to use the clips, but the department did not respond. 

Neither they - nor Ms Truss's office - responded to questions about the propriety of using the footage in a campaign video. 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss meeting European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic for talks in c

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss meeting European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic for talks in central London on the Northern Ireland Protocol. Picture date: Friday February 11, 2022. - Credit: PA

But in comments to the Sunday Times journalist Tim Shipman, Ms Truss’s team pointed out that Jeremy Hunt’s 2019 campaign video to become party leader also had footage of him meeting foreign officials, filmed by foreign office.

“I don’t remember them making a fuss then”, one of them reportedly said. 

Mr Shipman later tweeted: "The permanent secretary at the foreign office has now approved Liz Truss’s launch video. One uppity ambassador is blamed for the controversy."

Ms Truss, who represents constituents across Thetford, Downham Market and Swaffham, has served as foreign secretary since September 2021, and international trade secretary before that.

She used the video to emphasise her experience on the world stage, showing her at meetings in India, the Persian Gulf and other locations.

Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith (pictured) has given her backing to fellow Norfolk MP Liz Truss to become leader of the Conservative party - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

The MP has so far won the support of Norwich North MP Chloe Smith in her bid to become leader, along with 14 other parliamentary colleagues.