The City of London does not rate the new
Conservative leader. Skilled analysts have
examined her economic policies - lower taxes and
much higher public spending - and regard them as
reckless and irresponsible.
They do not believe that she is up to the
task of governing Britain, and nor do many
others who have worked with her. She is said to
be intolerant of criticism. She does not listen
to serious arguments.
To give one example, her Foreign Office
told her not to go to
Russia in February. She ignored this advice
and was duly eaten
alive by the Russian foreign minister,
Sergei Lavrov. But Liz Truss got what she wanted
most - photographs of
herself in Moscow’s Red Square, just like the
late British Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher with
Mikhail Gorbachev, who died last
week, during the heady days of perestroika in
the late 1980s.
In another homage to Maggie Thatcher, Truss
was photographed in
a tank in Estonia in November 2021. She has used
the Foreign Office not to engage with serious
issues of substance but to promote her personal
image as Thatcher’s political successor.
Like her or not, Thatcher was a genuinely
substantial political figure with a mind of her
own, deep integrity and raw courage. None of
can be said about Truss. She’s shrewd enough
to make it to Downing Street, but has only done
this by abandoning every
political belief she’s ever held.
Once a Liberal Democrat who
supported the European Union and wanted the
monarchy to be abolished, today Truss is a
hard-right Tory. She is a very modern
phenomenon: the triumph of style over substance.
Ideas don’t truly matter to her - what matters
is gaining power.
Look at her recent declaration that she would
examine shifting the British embassy to
Jerusalem. Such a move would be a gross betrayal of
British obligations to the Palestinian people,
as entrenched in the Balfour Declaration of
It is also against the British government’s
position, reaffirmed as
recently as December 2021, that the UK “opposes
unilateral action in Jerusalem absent a final
status settlement and remains supportive of the
historic status quo”.
Significantly, she made the statement in a letter to
an influential lobby group, the Conservative
Friends of Israel.
One can see the short-term political
advantages which accrue from opportunistic ploys
like Truss’s photo opportunity in Moscow or her
remarks about Jerusalem. But they threaten
long-term damage to Britain itself. The deadly
charge against Truss is that she, like her
Boris Johnson, is ready to sacrifice
national interests in order to further her own
Boris 'in a dress'
Johnson leaves office today as the most
incompetent prime minister in British history.
There is no reason to suppose that Truss will be
any better. When Johnson was deposed as Tory
leader and prime minister after being caught
misleading MPs, I naively imagined that his
successor would seek to restore the decency and
integrity which Johnson had abandoned during his
But Truss has not sought to do that. She told
the Tory membership that Johnson did not deserve
to be removed from office.
When I wrote to Truss
and her leadership rival Rishi Sunak asking her
to pledge to correct the many lies and
falsehoods uttered by Johnson on the floor of
the House of Commons, she did not answer.
Her own leadership bid, too, has been
littered with similar
deceptions. Britain used to be famed for the
integrity of our national institutions. Truss
has made quite clear that she has no intention
of undoing the damage inflicted on our national
reputation by her shamed predecessor.
There’s a reason for this. She herself relies
on the forces which took Johnson to power three
years ago: Tory party donors, the right-wing
press (above all the Daily Mail), and the
approximately 150,000 Tory members - including a
large number of elderly who hold bigoted
views and formerly belonged to Nigel
Farage’s UKIP, a right-wing, populist party.
It reflects extremely poorly on Truss that in
order to win the Tory party leadership she
pandered to this unrepresentative selection of
the British population, with pledges to trigger Article
16 to tear up the Northern Irish protocol and challenge British
membership of the European Court of Human
Now she faces the task of governing
for the British nation as a whole. Having boxed
herself in during the Tory leadership campaign,
she will find it impossible. If she reaches out
to the British people, as she promised in her
leadership address today, she will instantly be
accused of betrayal by her backers on the Tory
That is why I believe that the Tory
party may well split under Truss's leadership.
It’s not just that she stands little chance of
great electoral triumph in 2019, when he
forged an historic coalition between
working-class voters in the North of England and
the southern middle classes.
Equally important, she is
not liked by many Tory MPs. If she does not
revive the Tory party’s standing in the polls,
some will despair of the party itself.
The Conservative Party has now been
in power for 12 years of
austerity and economic failure. It has lost
its way, as the election of Truss shows. Expect
a series of defections to Labour in the short
two years which run up to the general election.
Truss’s defeated rival Rishi Sunak
has already made
plain his despair at the shallowness and
irresponsibility of her economic policy. He may
emerge as the leader of a group of disenchanted
MPs upset by her methods of government.
An even more
deadly threat may be Johnson himself,
considering his undignified reaction to his
defenestration nearly two months ago. Johnson
and his allies will not be able to restrain
themselves from scheming against Truss once she
runs into trouble.
And she will run into trouble.
Her premiership is destined to
fail. She will bring down the Conservative Party
with her. None of this matters very much, except
that I worry very much about the damage
inflicted on Britain as a nation.
Over the coming months Britain will
enter, along with much of the rest of the world,
an economic and social crisis on a scale not
seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It
is hard to think of a national leader less
equipped to deal with the traumatic months ahead
than shallow, vapid, empty, self-admiring Liz
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