The Daily Mail’s fury that anyone should dare to “mock” Liz Truss – its front page on Monday made the comedian Joe Lycett public enemy number one for having the temerity to talk sarcastically about her on Laura Kuenssberg’s inaugural political show – was unstartling given how much Paul Dacre adores her.
Just before Christmas 2021, it was love at first fright when the Mail grandee found himself seated beside Truss at a dinner hosted by Lord Ashcroft, the former deputy chairman of the Tory party. It was then – when Johnson was still prime minister – that Dacre clearly decided the malleable foreign secretary would succeed Johnson as PM, albeit with a few stylistic adjustments.
“Is our foreign secretary the new Mrs T, as those photos of her commanding one of our few remaining tanks would have us believe?” Dacre subsequently drooled in the Spectator. “She is clearly a toughie, possessed of a steely self-belief, an imperviousness to the media, a healthy contempt for the male species, a seemingly genuine belief in a low-tax, small-state economy and a disarming habit of asking abrupt questions and dismissing the response as ‘bollocks’ – a tactic clearly designed to gain further elucidation.”
The smitten Dacre admitted he “liked” her and added he saw in her
“a comer”, which is to say he saw in her someone who would do as she was told and recognise that it was the Mail and not the electorate that now calls the shots in this country.