Short of installing a walk-in fridge, it’s difficult to see what else TV-interview-dodger Liz Truss could do to signal she’d be just as unaccountable in No 10 as her slippery hero, Boris Johnson. Pulling out of a forensic BBC interview with Nick Robinson was straight out of the Johnson playbook, reminiscent of the time he blanked Andrew Neil in 2019. Excited Truss aides gush there is one publication certain to be granted an audience by their Instagram-posing boss: Vogue. The fashion mag is already chasing Truss, they smirked, after Nicola Sturgeon mocked her desperation to appear. Snubbed Robinson could have secured his interview with a photocall and a chat about her favourite designer, rather than burning questions about energy bills and the soaring cost of living.
Rather than turning up the thermostat, Theresa May could always keep warm this winter by wearing the £470 designer jumper and £450 raincoat she sported in her own American Vogue appearance in 2017. The £74,000 fee she registered over the summer for a speech to Deutsche Bank in London suggests, however, the former PM won’t be choosing between heating and eating. Sturgeon, by the way, wasn’t as nonchalant during her two Vogue bookings as she had suggested. A Scottish snout growled she had omitted to mention her office ringing the publication to ask if she’d be on the front of the magazine. “The cover story? No. Who does she think she is, Kate Moss?” was the brutal response.
Sulking Sunak is struggling to appear cheerful ahead of the likely announcement on 5 September that the Conservative cult has preferred to parachute Truss into No 10. Having to vote for a “fairy tale” emergency Budget will be the final humiliation. Friends increasingly believe he’ll quit parliament at the next election as well as refuse to serve in her cabinet. The Truss Tory party in Westminster promises to be as poisonous as Labour under Corbyn.
How to avoid being overshadowed by the voracious, insatiable ego of Johnson is troubling Truss. The plan, I’m informed, is to appoint somebody on her team specifically to deal with him, so he “doesn’t become another Prince Harry and Meghan Markle”. Truss, a notoriously poor public speaker, does not know yet whether Johnson will be appearing at October’s Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. Her nightmare is that he steals the show.
The snooty Carlton Club is still smarting that Johnson’s toppling was triggered on its St James’s Street premises by Chris Pincher’s drunken rampage. “The worst bit,” sniffed a fully paid-up bore, “is Chris isn’t even a member of our club.” Saves demanding a resignation or expelling him, I suppose.
This article appears in the 31 Aug 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The Liz Truss Doctrine