Liz Truss was grilled by BBC Breakfast’s Sally Nugent and was accused of creating a “politically charged” picture while in a tank that mirrored former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The image, taken towards the end of November in Estonia, caused widespread ridicule of the Foreign Secretary including from foreign media who branded her the “new Iron Lady”. Ms Truss batted back the attacks and said she was only thinking of the troops on the ground when she was photographed.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Ms Nugent quizzed Ms Truss about her trip to Estonia and wondered what was the reason she was pictured in a tank.
The presenter said: “You were recently pictured, that famous photo opportunity, you’re pictured in a tank on a foreign trip.
“Were you aware when that photograph was taken? Had you thought through how politically charged that image might be?
“[It is] very, very similar to a picture of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in a similar situation? Had you thought through what that image might mean?”
Ms Truss claimed the move was not done to win over any political favour and replied: “The reason I was in that tank is I was with our troops in Estonia, showing support for our troops.
“And the work they’re doing protecting freedom on the borders with Russia and it’s so important there.
“Our allies in the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, understand the UK supporting them and that’s what I was thinking about when I was visiting the troops.
“I was showing our strong support for freedom and democracy in Eastern Europe and that’s what I’m focused on in my job.
“We face real threats to our way of life. We face aggressive regimes, trying to undermine freedom and democracy and frankly, that is a much bigger issue that we face as a country and that is my focus as Foreign Secretary.”
Political commentators noted the similarities between Ms Truss’ photo and an image of Margaret Thatcher taken in 1986 during her visit to Germany.
But the Tory frontbencher was ridiculed by people in the UK and even from Russian broadcaster Channel 1 over the image.
A presenter by the name of Anatoly Kuzichev said: “There is a new Iron Lady in British politics.
“UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss had a ride on a tank in Estonia.
“During joint drills in the Baltics, Truss claimed she wants a world where democracies proper – not just survive.
“Apparently a tank ride, even (in Estonia), promotes prosperity.”
Ms Truss appeared on BBC Breakfast and other broadcasters to show her support to Boris Johnson as the awaited Sue Grey inquiry is due to be released this week.
The minister told Sky News that Downing Street had not received the report as of Wednesday early morning but the publishing of the report may be delayed due to “security issues”.
Ms Truss said the Prime Minister had her “100 percent support”.