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Does Liz Truss know she’s a joke?

Her new book shows why she was so poorly equipped to be prime minister.

By Freddie Hayward

Liz Truss is fatally self-aware. She has spent her time out of office recording her flaws with painstaking accuracy. Extracts from her book Ten Years to Save the West, which is published today, establish why she succumbed sooner than a lettuce.

To understand why Truss was so poorly equipped to reside in No 10, remember that the prime minister must command a majority in the House of Commons. When she became PM, the Tory party was fractious and bitter. Removing leaders had become a habit. Some Conservative MPs made it known that Truss was anathema to them. They viewed her as fringe and crazed. As John Rentoul reminds us, Rishi Sunak won the most support from MPs. But it was the Conservative Party members who elevated Truss to the top job. That made bringing her MPs onboard as soon as possible central to her survival.

And yet, Truss – the impaler of the pound – describes herself this way: “I’m gregarious and I like people, but even my best friends wouldn’t describe me as a great people manager.” Not a great people manager? Well, good luck herding 360 of the unruliest people in the country. Examples such as these show a piercing ability to identify why she was so bad at the job. Here’s another example about her decision to cut welfare in real terms:

“It seemed to me wrong that somebody on welfare would get a bigger rise than someone in work. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why Conservatives were opposing it.”

She did not have the capacity to put herself in their position in order to understand their actions. It took David Cameron’s buddy and Dutch PM Mark Rutte to tell Truss that he was worried about what was happening in Britain for her to think – in her words – “maybe I’m in some serious trouble”. She has repeatedly refused to deny that she is considering a comeback despite publishing this catalogue of errors.

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Why, then, does she persist? The Sun’s Harry Cole greeted Truss in one of her many interviews to promote the book with, “What are we saving the West from… not Liz Truss?” To which Truss replied with amusement: “Ha-ha.” She knows she’s a joke. She even seems to take part in it. But she does not care.

This piece first appeared in the Morning Call newsletter; receive it every morning by subscribing on Substack here.

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