Motorway speed limits could be axed if Liz Truss becomes PM

·2-min read
Liz Truss is the front runner in the leadership race  (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Liz Truss is the front runner in the leadership race (Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

The Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, who is expected to win the race against former chancellor Rishi Sunak to become the UK’s next prime minister, hinted at the prospect of speed-limit-free motorways last night.

She also said she would end smart motorways – labelling them an experiment that has failed.

Speaking at the final hustings of the Conservative leadership campaign on Wednesday evening, Ms Truss refused to answer whether or not she would change speed limits from mandatory to advisory but said she would “look at” the issue.

In 2021 there were 1,560 reported deaths on all roads in Great Britain, a 13 per cent reduction on the 2017 to 2019 average, Government figures show. The current speed limit on British motorways is 70mph, although the limit can sometimes be lower.

She told Conservative Party members at the LBC event in Wembley: “I absolutely think that we need to review them [smart motorways] and stop them if they’re not working as soon as possible, and all the evidence I have agrees with the point you’re making on smart motorways.

“On speed limits, again, I’d be prepared to look at that. I can’t give you a precise answer on the points but I do believe that the smart motorways experiment hasn’t worked.”

Asked to clarify if she would stop smart motorways, Ms Truss replied: “Yes.”

The original question from a man in the audience criticised smart motorways and said they can impose “very low speed limits, mandatory ones, much lower than necessary”. He also suggested hard shoulders should be restored to all motorways and the speed limit should be made advisory.

Campaigners believe people should be allowed to choose what speed they think is safe to drive at on motorways, which would in turn improve traffic flow.

National Highways has tested 60mph limits in an effort to reduce air pollution, while road-safety experts do not want people driving faster.

When will the next Tory leader and prime minister be announced?

The winner of the Tory leadership campaign is due to be announced on Monday September 5 at 12.30pm in Parliament in front of MPs and peers.