The Conservative leadership hopeful made the awkward slip up while setting out her foreign policy stall to Tory members who will soon have to decide on whether to back the Foreign Secretary for Prime Minister. Speaking to the TalkTV hustings in Exeter, Ms Truss said: “I will also continue to stand up for Vladimir Putin!”
Correcting herself, Ms Truss continued: “…to Vladimir Putin. Now I put in place the toughest sanctions regime on Russia.
“I also worked with my colleagues to make sure we were the first European country supplying weapons to Ukriane.
“But we can’t rest on our laurels.”
“We need to make sure that our defence spending is inline with the threat which has increased, so I will raise defence spending to three percent of GDP,” pledged Ms Truss.
The Foreign Secretary used her opening speech at the hustings in Exeter to declare she would “win back Tiverton and Honiton”, which the Lib Dems secured at a by-election after Neil Parish resigned after admitting he had watched pornography twice on his phone in Parliament.
Ms Truss ran through her policies and acknowledged the “difficult times” facing the country, adding: “Now is not the time for business as usual, now we have to be bold, we need a plan for growth, and that is what I will do.”
She namechecked farmers and fishermen in a nod to the southwest members, adding: “I will back our fishermen.
“In 2026, there’s going to be a new negotiation and I will make sure as an independent coastal state we have full control over our fishing waters.”
Ms Truss’s bid to become Britain’s next prime minister got a major boost on Monday when she received the backing of a lawmaker she narrowly defeated to make it to the final two candidates vying to replace Boris Johnson.
Junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt was the last contender to be eliminated in a succession of ballots by lawmakers in the ruling Conservative Party, losing out to Truss by just eight votes.
Party members will now decide whether Truss, who is favourite to succeed Johnson according to opinion polls, or former finance minister Rishi Sunak should be the next Conservative leader and prime minister.
“I came third in this contest and I owe it to all of you to be a signpost, not a weather vane, and so I’ve made my choice,” Mordaunt told a hustings event in southwest England.
“I’ve seen enough to know who the person that I’m going to put my faith in is and that is Liz Truss.”
Ms Mordaunt joins other senior ministers who have backed Truss in recent days, including Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and finance minister Nadhim Zahawi.
Mr Sunak was initially seen as the favourite to replace Johnson when he helped to steer the economy through the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he has struggled to make headway against Truss.
On Sunday he said he would slash the basic rate of income tax by 20 percent by 2029 in a potentially make-or-break throw of the dice.