Liz Truss has been reminded of a rather embarrassing tweet about Jimmy Savile on social media this week.
The foreign secretary and newly-appointed Brexit secretary is in the running to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister in the event that he stands down or gets pushed out of the party.
Times correspondent Charlotte Edwardes says among the Tory faithful there is only one candidate they keep talking about.
She was dubbed the ‘new Iron Lady’ in the piece and the “most powerful woman in politics” having taken up both the foreign secretary and Brexit secretary briefs.
But there is one tweet that she may want to bury if she stands a chance of walking in Maggie Thatcher’s shoes.
Posting on the day Jimmy Savile died, she fondly recollected how she used to see the sex offender at a restaurant in Leeds, saying he was “always in good spirits”.
Of course, Thatcher was the one who lobbied for Savile to get knighted in 1990 – despite warnings
Newly released documents show the ex-prime minister pushed officials for recognition of Savile’s charity work.
Heavily redacted papers show that Lady Thatcher first wrote to Sir Robert Armstrong, the most senior civil servant in the country at the time and chair of the honours committee, about the issue of a knighthood for Savile in 1983.
Sir Robert vetoed the idea, saying it was too soon after “unfortunate revelations” in which the entertainer had boasted to the media of having sex with women he met while running charity marathons.
The prime minister raised the matter again just months later but Sir Robert said “lurid details” were unlikely to be have been forgotten and it “would be best if Mr Savile were to wait a little longer”.
“We remain worried,” he added. “Fears have been expressed that Mr Savile might not be able to refrain from exploiting a knighthood in a way which brought the honours system into disrepute.”
“All the great work he did”
After further requests were also turned down, the prime minister’s private secretary Nigel Wicks wrote to Sir Robert in 1986 saying that she was “most disappointed that Mr Savile’s name has not been recommended”.
He added: “She [Thatcher] wonders how many more times his name is to be pushed aside, especially in view of all the great work he had done for Stoke Mandeville [hospital].”
Savile, a friend of the former PM, was ultimately knighted in 1990.
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