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Liz Truss, the pub bore

The humiliated ex-PM has nothing worthwhile to say - and she says it loudly

Liz Truss speaks at the launch of the 'Popular Conservatives' movement (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Liz Truss certainly has a unique style of communication. Where others might have tried to reclaim some dignity after a disastrously short tenure as prime minister, Truss has chosen to launch her new book with extracts from her book revealing her immediate reaction to the queen’s death was “why me?” and moaning that her premiership was plagued with flea bites from the flat above No 10.

Then, in a sit-down interview with the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson to promote Ten Years To Save The West, Truss brought the same kind of insight and dignity to her policy positions as she brings to everything else. In it, she said Donald Trump should be judged “on his actions rather than all of the rhetoric” and claimed the world was “safer” under him. 

Had Truss’s ministerial experience been in British-facing roles – home secretary and health, say – this could be shrugged off as merely clueless. But this is a woman who was international trade secretary while Trump was president, and foreign secretary after he lost the 2020 election.
Truss claimed that the Biden administration had “shown weakness on Iran, and that has led to the situation we’ve seen in the Middle East.” The implication was that Teheran would not dare strike US allies under Trump.

Yet during his presidency, Iran felt sufficiently emboldened to directly strike two US military bases – and undermined the Iran deal Obama and Europe had worked so hard to secure.

Trump also destabilised the NATO alliance on multiple occasions, and withdrew from long-term trade deals. 

Trump’s presidency saw the US weaken its alliances, grow more distant from its rivals, and destabilise the international order. Biden may have been the one to reap what Trump sowed, especially with Ukraine, but only a fool would sincerely believe Trump actually made the world safer.

A cynic, of course, might spot that Truss has been spending a lot of time in America and its big-money pro-Trump institutions. If you’re looking to get on the US speaker circuit and stay in with the money behind Trump, you can’t hedge your bets – it’s Trump or bust. Might this have occurred to the former PM as she answered that question?

There was little in the rest of the wide-ranging discussion with Nelson to require the suspension of cynicism. Asked about the suspension of former deputy chair Lee Anderson from the Conservatives – which led to his defection to Reform – Truss said it “would be better” if he were still a member.

Truss was not forced to address the implications of what that would mean, as the reasons for Anderson’s suspension were barely addressed. In reality, Lee Anderson has said that “Islamists” had “got control” of Sadiq Khan, one of the country’s most senior and visible Muslim politicians – who is a two-term mayor of a liberal city, who has attended and supported LGBT events and spoken out repeatedly against antisemitism.

Saying Anderson should not have been suspended only lends legitimacy to more anti-Islamic hatred in British politics and greater malice. But that’s not Liz Truss’s problem, because while she may be still drawing an MP’s salary, she is as checked out of actual politics as it is possible to be.

But the lowest point was still to come. Truss, a former Lord chancellor, said she “wish[ed] for a world where the Supreme Court no longer exists”. The UK is not the US: our Supreme Court is not politically appointed, and it has no written constitution upon which to draw to vastly extend its power. In the UK, parliament is sovereign.

Checks and balances are an essential part of any democracy, but Truss acts as if she doesn’t know or believe that. Her premiership was as short as it was because she ignored every safety rail that existed to prevent disaster – she fired the Treasury permanent secretary, ignored the Office for Budget Responsibility, and barely consulted the Bank of England before ploughing on with her idiotic budget.

She is still asking why she didn’t know about some of the consequences of her own actions – why wasn’t she warned? – despite surely knowing she wasn’t because she made sure no-one could warn her.

Despite her best attempts to convince us all that she’s an idiot, Liz Truss knows something about how governments work. As well as foreign secretary and international trade secretary, she has been chief secretary to the Treasury, justice secretary and lord chancellor, and environment secretary. She was in the cabinet for nine years before becoming prime minister. 

As such, Truss must know on some level that what she’s saying in interviews like this one is nonsense. For all that she convinced herself it would be possible to do things faster as PM, it wasn’t. She knows government is slow, and hard, and she knows that no-one is going to scrap the Supreme Court.

Instead, she’s just self-indulgently boosting her own image with her imagined fanbase. Other serving MPs in the governing party might wonder if it would make Rishi Sunak’s life harder to be making these remarks, but such concerns are below Truss.

Truss has decided her future is best served by chasing the big bucks from the lunatic US right, and attempting to get some public appeal by leaning on the most basic kind of populist vibe – the same boring act that Sunak, Suella Braverman and Priti Patel engaged in every time they lean overly hard on “stop the boats”.

Liz Truss is the pub bore ex-PM. She’s not saying anything interesting or constructive, and she’s not trying to. She’s railing against her enemies, real and imagined, explaining why her failings aren’t her fault, and failing to notice when she’s lost the room.

Dealing with a pub bore isn’t hard: they are always best ignored. Liz Truss has no more political power, influence or future in the UK than any other pub bore. There is no need, then, for us to deal with her any differently. 

Sure, Liz, whatever. I need to get back to my table now.

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