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20 under 40: Elizabeth Truss

Age: 36
Conservative, South-West Norfolk

As a student at Oxford, Liz Truss was an active Liberal Democrat, but most of her Tory colleagues have since forgiven the indiscretion. Also mostly forgotten is the kerfuffle around her selection in South-West Norfolk, where an old extramarital affair was dredged up by reactionary local Tories (aka "the Turnip Taliban") in a failed attempt to block her candidacy. Before joining parliament, Truss was deputy director of Reform, a centre-right think tank. She is much admired for her energy, intelligence and liberalism in the select group of MPs who claim to be authentic, ideological Cameroons. If their reign lasts, she will go far.

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This article first appeared in the 19 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Meet the next Prime Minister