This has been an extraordinary week for me.
Last Friday (October 14) I got a text message saying ‘this is Liz Truss can you call me?’ I ignored it because I assumed it was a hoax. When I finally did speak to the prime minister I was astonished to find myself being asked to be Chancellor of the Exchequer.
It is normally one of the most sought-after jobs in politics but right now – for obvious reasons – not an easy wicket. But public service is about doing your duty in good times and bad, as my late father would have no doubt said. Thank you to many, many local residents for your kind letters and emails of congratulations.
You will know the scale of the economic challenges we face. There were some mistakes in the mini-budget, but that is actually only a small part of the overall pressure created by two once-in-a-lifetime events: the pandemic and a European war.
We now have to balance the books – and it is not just about keeping accountants happy. When I entered the cabinet in 2010, David Cameron’s government took difficult decisions to bring down the deficit. Because of that we were able to give record funding to the NHS, fund the furlough scheme and subsidise energy bills this winter.
We now need to embark on a similar challenging journey and my job is to take the tough and difficult decisions to allow us to do so.
But I won’t forget my constituents and the things I have been campaigning for to improve life locally.
The campaign for a new cancer and surgical innovation centre for the Royal Surrey continues apace with more than £200,000 now raised and many more exciting fundraising initiatives coming up over the next few months including afternoon teas and a summer ball.
I’ll be talking more about these and provide more details in due course. In the meantime anyone wanting more information on the new centre can contact the hospital’s fundraising team or visit www.royalsurreycharity.org.uk/Appeal/surgerycancerappeal
Nor will I stop my determination to protect our local green spaces – and continue to press my new government colleagues on the need for the Surrey Hills AONB to become a national park.
I will not use my position to seek special favours and my campaigning will be necessarily less public – but I will remain determined to make progress.
I also want to stop sewage pollution in the River Wey, something I spoke about in a parliamentary debate before I became chancellor. Nearly 2,000 of you have signed my petition to Thames Water and Southern Water to cease sewage overspills into our rivers and I will be holding a public meeting on this important matter in November.
I may not be able to write a column for the Herald every week but I will continue to keep you updated on these issues and remain focused on important constituency work alongside my national responsibilities.
Thank you for giving me the privilege to serve my country at this difficult time by sending me to Westminster.