Minister defends Liz Truss' achievements in government: 'She reintroduced beavers'

Thérèse Coffey was asked to list a specific achievement by Liz Truss and said: 'She was the first person to reintroduce beavers.' (PA)
Therese Coffey was asked to list specific achievements by Liz Truss and said: 'She was the first person to reintroduce beavers.' (PA)

One of Liz Truss’ closest allies has said one of the Tory leadership frontrunner’s key achievements was “reintroducing beavers”.

Therese Coffey, who has been tipped to become home secretary should Truss become prime minister, was asked on LBC about the “specific things” Truss has delivered.

Coffey said she “got a grip” of public finances and was able to “unlock potential” as chief secretary to the Treasury between 2017 and 2019.

Told it sounded “rather vague”, Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, was pressed again for “specific things” Truss has done.

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And she said: “For people who suddenly care about the environment, that was an important part of her agenda. She was the first person to reintroduce beavers.”

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Asked if that was Truss’ big achievement from eight years in the cabinet, Coffey said it was an “example of something she initiated”.

It appears Coffey was referring to Truss’ time as environment secretary between 2014 and 2016. In a 2018 tweet, Truss said beavers are “admirably industrious creatures” and that she approved a trial for their reintroduction.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 19: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey leaves Downing Street after attending the weekly cabinet meeting in London, United Kingdom on July 19, 2022. (Photo by Radid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Therese Coffey is tipped to become home secretary if Liz Truss becomes prime minister. (Getty Images)

Beavers, labelled “ecosystem engineers”, can help restore natural habitats and reduce the risk of flooding through dam building.

They were hunted to extinction in Britain in the 16th century but are now found living in the wild on a number of rivers in Scotland and England, through official trials as well as illegal releases or escapes. They have also been introduced into enclosures in a number of English counties.

Moving on from beavers, Coffey added of Truss' record: “A lot of things in government do take time to come through but it’s about having that agenda, making changes.

“When she was justice secretary, handling what had been some of the worst [prison] riots that had been happening when she came into power... so it is about making sure that processes… it’s not always a very exciting, glamorous part of being in government.”