Support 100 years of independent journalism.

It’s out with the old – as toadying Tories try to get in with the new

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

“Fizz with Liz”, the regular networking sessions held by Liz Truss, is transforming from cosy drinks with MPs to a spume of policy announcements. The new PM’s closest confidants believe she has weeks, not 100 days, to make a favourable impression on the British people. Meanwhile, relations with Boris Johnson’s team aren’t as chummy as a continuity cabinet might suggest. Take her Greenwich neighbour and supporter Kwasi Kwarteng. A Johnson-era No 10 insider briefed that Kwarteng was no Stakhanovite, quipping it was ironic that he was, with Truss, a co-author of the infamous Britannia Unchained, which labelled Britons “among the worst idlers in the world”. One former minister also claimed the name of another Truss favourite, James “not very” Cleverly, is a breach of the Trade Descriptions Act.

Johnson was advised by a senior Tory parliamentarian that leaving the Commons is his best hope of avoiding a Privileges Committee finding that he knowingly lied to MPs. The hearing, the toppled PM was informed, might be dropped if he stood down in Uxbridge. I’m told Johnson was silent and looked hurt. The deluded former leader really does think his party might beg him to return to save them.

Fewer than half of Tory MPs backed Truss, yet all wanted her mobile number to text congratulations. One with the magic number grumbled that he was so sick of sycophants asking for it that he started pretending he didn’t know. The split in Conservative ranks is between those able to suck up without texting a sign-off – because Truss already had their number in her phone – and those who had to stick a name and constituency on the message.

[See also: Liz Truss is ready for Prime Minister’s Questions – as long as they’re from Vogue]

Rishi Sunak’s defeat was also a loss for Gavin Williamson, who viewed himself as a kingmaker. I hear Michelle Donelan was rated a better education secretary than Williamson in the Johnson years, even though she lasted only 36 hours. “Unlike Gavin, she never had time to screw everything up,” sneered a snout.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Parliament’s most energetic picketer is the SNP’s Chris Stephens, a one-time Unison activist who is to burning braziers what Truss is to Thatcher tribute poses on Instagram. The Glasgow campaigner was surprised to read his name in the Metro newspaper on a list of disobedient Labour MPs. “Chris is too left-wing for Starmer,” mused a comrade. “He’d be carpeted so often the rug would be worn bare.”

Content from our partners
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs
Flooding is a major risk for our homes

Fears are growing that the exodus of Johnson special advisers could swamp the vetters at the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, the body that evaluates the suitability of post-government jobs for those on No 10’s payroll. My informant said dozens are touting for work with PR and lobbying firms because they don’t ask many questions about Covid lockdown fines.

[See also: The Lib Dems name their price for a deal with Labour]

Topics in this article: , ,

This article appears in the 07 Sep 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Liz Truss Unchained