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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Liz Truss Doubts Slowing Down Would Have Saved Her From "Establishment Forces"

Liz Truss has rejected criticism of her short-lived time as Prime Minister saying she would pursue the same policies again (Alamy)

5 min read

Former prime minister Liz Truss has been left wondering whether she should have bothered enacting her radical economic reforms, because she believes that even if she had taken more time over it, the "fundamental forces" of the establishment would have found a way of derailing her.

When she succeeded Boris Johnson as Conservative leader in 2022, Truss became the UK's shortest serving prime minister, lasting just 49 days before being forced to resign over the impact of her economic policy. The controversial "mini-budget" which she devised with Kwasi Kwarteng caused major fluctuations in the value of the pound, and a significant drop in the value of UK government bonds. The Bank of England was forced to make several major interventions to shore up pension funds.

Truss recounts those days in a new book published this week, 10 Years To Save The West, where she recalls the Queen telling her to “pace yourself” when they met at Balmoral to formalise Truss's appointment as prime minister. 

But Truss told PoliticsHome podcast The Rundown that she blames the refusal of the economic establishment to embrace her growth strategy for her dramatic downfall, rather than the speed with which she enacted it. 

"Maybe there's somebody who can tell me I'm wrong on this," she said. 

"I genuinely don't think that taking longer would have made any difference to the fundamental forces, which were an economic establishment that didn't want to do this, and a Conservative Party who probably weren't strongly enough in favour of it. 

"The question for me is, 'should I even have tried in the first place?' rather than, 'could I have done it differently?'.”

Since leaving high office Truss has remained defiant in her defence of the basic principles of what she was trying to achieve, and has vowed to remain in politics in order to fight for what she considers to be true Conservatism. "I haven't heard anybody who's actually been in Government saying there was a different way of doing it," she said. 

Truss plans to run again to be the MP for South West Norfolk when an election is called this year, and dismisses claims that she lacks credibility to continue pushing her brand of radical economics. 

“There are plenty of people sitting around on armchairs saying ‘oh, it's all extremely easy, all you needed to do is tell the Bank of England what to do’ or whatever, but they haven't actually been there,” she said.

Across the political divide Truss has become synonymous with political recklessness, with Labour in particular seeking to draw attention to the fallout from her time in Downing Street. The current opposition is widely expected to win the next election having held significant poll leads since Truss's premiership. But she accuses her detractors of "making lazy personal attacks” simply because “they don't have any better solution”.

Truss says Downing Street is guilty of the “classic establishment view of who has the right to talk and who doesn’t”, and that there has been a capture of institutions which prevent politicians on the right from making the changes they want to. 

“I think there's a bit of a conspiracy of silence of ministers, because no one really wants to admit they don't actually have the power to do things," she explained. 

“That is one of the things that I want to expose in the book about what's happened in Britain. Ministers are less able to get things done.”

Liz Truss Kwasi Kwarteng
Liz Truss sacked Kwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor after his failed mini Budget (Alamy)

She has argued that the UK, the US and others have lost their way and stopped focusing on economic growth, and calls for conservatives to be “brave” in rolling back policies on net zero and so-called “woke” ideology. She has also backed calls from the Conservative right for Britain to remove itself from the European Convention in Human Rights (ECHR) as a means to curb immigration.

But Truss, who campaigned to stay in the EU in 2016, said simply leaving the ECHR is “not enough” and that that the lesson from Brexit is that “you need to change the institutions themselves”.

She felt the Conservatives' "absolute biggest mistake" on entering office in 2010 was that David Cameron's new government was too quick to retain policy from the previous Labour government and that "somehow we should seek to be ‘the heir to Blair’." 

Liz Truss speaks to PoliticsHome
Liz Truss spoke to PoliticsHome as she launches her book, 10 Years to Save the West

In 10 Years To Save The West she compares herself to the football manager Brian Clough, who was famously sacked by Leeds United after just 44 days in charge after trying to tear up their title-winning team’s tactics. Truss hopes to be reelected as the MP for South West Norfolk, but unlike Clough – who recovered and went on to great success and winning back-to-back European Cups with Nottingham Forest – she's unsure about whether she’ll get a second act.

“With this book I am probably baring my soul more than I have before,” she said. 

“I'm putting it out there with a view to seeing what discussion I can provoke. I think Britain has been in a sort of political consensus for the last two and a half decades, and it isn't leading to high levels of economic growth and opportunity, it isn't propelling our country in the right way. I think we need to question that.”

It seems unlikely, however, that Truss will be seeking post-prime ministerial advice from any other former occupants of Downing Street. Of the small talk at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday where she gathered alongside Tony Blair and Gordon Brown she had just one word: “Limited.”


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