Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (2024)

ByAndy Trigg & Laurence Cawley,BBC News, in Thetford

Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (1)Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (2)Andy Trigg/BBC

Psychotherapist Karys Matthams says she has only once spotted her former MP Liz Truss in the Norfolk town of Thetford.

"It was on a billboard," the 47-year-old resident says. "She may as well have been wearing an invisibility cloak."

Two years ago, for 49 days, Ms Truss was the nation's prime minister. Today, she is no longer an MP after losing what was once considered a Tory stronghold to Labour.

The result has surprised Ms Matthams who thought Ms Truss would scrape through and hold her seat.

"I think it is really good news," she says. "I think it is time that she went - I don't see anything that she has done positive for the locality."

When a political commentator joked that Ms Truss had "roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce" when she became PM and oversaw a 'mini budget' that spooked the financial markets, British newspaper the Daily Star responded by testing the theory on a live webcam feed.

Thousands watched "lettuce-cam" showing a 60p Tesco lettuce in a blonde wig next to a framed photo of the prime minister. And when Ms Truss announced her resignation, nearly 20,000 people tuned in to congratulate the lettuce on outlasting her.

The stunt, says Ms Matthams, was something that has lingered in the minds of Ms Truss's former constituents.

"Anybody who doesn't last as long as a lettuce is going to make an awfully big impression on people," says Ms Mattham. "And the fact she wasn't remotely sorry for the mistakes she made or the damage she caused, I think people will notice and remember that."

Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (3)Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (4)Andy Trigg/BBC

Butcher Dee Hilton says she sees the result as hugely positive for Reform UK, whose candidate Toby McKenzie came in third - just 1,259 votes behind Ms Truss.

Like Ms Matthams, Ms Hilton says Ms Truss was not often seen in the town.

"You didn't see her, she didn't come here," says Ms Hilton. "If she went through the town she ran at speed with security guards."

Ms Hilton says she feels the Tories gave Labour the seat and Reform should be proud of its performance in the constituency.

She believes had there been more time, the newly formed party might have clinched South West Norfolk.

As for Ms Truss, Ms Hilton says: "I think she brought it on herself. She made so many mistakes."

At Friday morning's election count, a slow clap rang around the room before Ms Truss arrived on stage seconds before the declaration was made, having left her fellow candidates waiting.

Speaking at the count, she told the BBC, before leaving swiftly: "I think the issue we faced as Conservatives is we haven't delivered sufficiently on the policies people want and that means keeping taxes low but also particularly on reducing immigration."

She added: "I think that's been a crucial issue here in South West Norfolk."

Asked what her immediate future holds, she said: "I've got a lot to think about."

Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (5)Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (6)Andy Trigg/BBC

Thetford retail worker Sasha Biggin, 19, says she is pleased with the result.

"I think it is better for us. She [Ms Truss] didn't really do much for us.

"A lot of people living around here are working class, me included," she says.

"She didn't do great for our economy and I do think it is better for her not to be in power any more.

"I think it was upsetting to see a woman be prime minister and then throw it down the drain."

Asked what she wanted to see from her new MP Terry Jermy and the new Labour government, Ms Biggin says: "We want better working conditions and more chances to get a property.

"Not being able to get a property was one of my biggest fears.

"There's a rise in mental illness and it would be nice to see somebody trying to do something about it rather than pushing it to the side."

She would also like to see "more respect for young people", adding: "We do matter, we are the future."

Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (7)Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (8)PA Media

The South West Norfolk result in full:

  • Terry Jermy, Labour, 11,847
  • Liz Truss, Conservative, 11,217
  • Toby McKenzie, Reform UK, 9,958
  • James Bagge, Independent, 6,282
  • Josie Ratcliffe, Liberal Democrat, 2,618
  • Pallavi Devulapalli, Green, 1838
  • Earl Elvis Of East Anglia, Monster Raving Loony Party, 338
  • Gary Conway, Heritage Party, 160
  • Lorraine Douglas, Communist Party of Britain, 77

Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (9)Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (10)

Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (11)Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (12)Andy Trigg/BBC

Store manager Chris Durkin, 38, thinks the South West Norfolk result "is a good thing for us".

"It was definitely time for a change.

"She's been here a long time. She didn't do very well being prime minister and the Tories just haven't done what they said they were going to be.

"The Labour candidate was a lot more visible and does a lot more for the town."

Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (13)Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (14)Andy Trigg/BBC

He says he did not feel Ms Truss had done much for Thetford.

"If you look, there are shops closing left, right and centre. Hopefully there will be a change now.

"We need to get the economy going again both locally and nationally."

Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (15)Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (16)Andy Trigg/BBC

Like Ms Matthams, the main image retail worker Blair Murdoch, 20, has of Ms Truss relates to lettuce.

"I remember when she didn't last as long as a lettuce," he says.

"She's gone. The last few years have been a bit rough.

"We're hoping for a good change and good things to come now.

"Let's hope for the best."

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Liz Truss

Thetford

General election 2024

Liz Truss: South West Norfolk voters respond to election ousting (2024)

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