Are bizarre claims falsely linking Liz Truss to the ousted BP chief a crude bid to halt her comeback?
By Glen Owen POLITICAL EDITOR
dmg media (UK)
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IT WAS an extraordinary claim, even by the febrile standards of life in Westminster. It was also completely unfounded. But that didn’t stop former Prime Minister Liz Truss being bizarrely linked to last week’s turmoil at the top of oil giant BP, as chief executive Bernard Looney was forced out for failing to be ‘fully transparent’ with the company over his past personal relationships. In the Commons, senior Ministers were claiming, with apparent seriousness, that happily married Ms Truss was one of the Mr Looney’s ‘undeclared relationships’. She told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I don’t believe I have ever met him.’ A spokesman for Mr Looney made a similar denial. Baseless rumours are nothing new in Westminster, and are seen by politicians as a regrettable but inevitable part of the landscape. However, friends of Ms Truss believe more is at play in this case: an ingrained cultural misogyny, for starters, but also an attempt by her political rivals to discredit her as she mounts a political comeback. Tomorrow Ms Truss will use a speech at the Institute For Government to make what is being billed as her first significant intervention about the economy since leaving office. It comes almost exactly a year after her mini-Budget crashed the markets and lit the fuse for the end of her premiership. In what will be seen as criticism of Rishi Sunak’s economic policies, she will argue that, had she remained PM, public spending would have been £35.5billion lower this financial year. Ms Truss admitted in last week’s MoS that she still struggles to compute what happened during her time in No10. She also announced she was writing a book, Ten Years To Save The West, which will tell the inside story of her 49 days as PM and argue that the main causes of her downfall were a lack of ‘support for Conservative ideas’ and too much power on the ‘global Left’. Mr Looney resigned as chief executive of BP after less than four years. In a statement, BP announced his departure following an investigation into his conduct and personal relationships with colleagues. His ex-wife, Jacqueline Hurst, has said that he ended their marriage by text message. In her self-help book How To Do You, Ms Hurst wrote: ‘When my husband ended our marriage suddenly and without warning via a WhatsApp message, I was naturally devastated. I learned later that he had only married me because he wanted to get to the next level of seniority in the company he worked at, and he had to be seen to be married in order to be given the promotion’. In a BP review, Mr Looney ‘disclosed a small number of historical relationships with colleagues prior to becoming CEO’, but the company said that it had received ‘further allegations of a similar nature’ more recently. The statement added that Mr Looney ‘did not provide details of all relationships and accepts he was obligated to make more complete disclosure’.