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Reviews | Liz Truss, British Prime Minister, wants to break America

Reviews |  Liz Truss, British Prime Minister, wants to break America


Liz Truss was British prime minister for 49 days in 2022, an interregnum between Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak that was so short she survived on a salad. In the annals of British decline, Ms. Truss will be remembered for coming to power just three days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and for her proposed huge and apparently unfunded tax cut, which she abruptly abandoned after a run on the pound.

If this were the 19th century, Mrs. Truss might have exiled herself to a country estate where peacocks roamed the estate or fought her enemies with pistols. (In 1809 the Foreign Secretary, George Canning, was injured in a duel with the Minister of War.) But this is not a moment of penance or honor. Instead, Ms. Truss reinvented herself as a populist and published a new book, Ten years to save the West: Leading the Revolution Against Globalism, Socialism, and the Liberal Establishment, which is part memoir, part speech to the American right: she has seen the deep state up close and knows what needs to be done.

This is not Ms. Truss's first political transformation. She began her career as an anti-monarchical member of the centrist Liberal Democrat party, before morphing into an uneasy tribute act to Margaret Thatcher. She voted to remain in the European Union, then established herself as a champion of Brexit. She survived every government from 2012 until her own. As environment secretary, she achieved memorable angry with cheese We import two thirds of our cheese. That. East. A. Shame, but was never really seen as a likely leader of the Conservative Party until his predecessor, Mr Johnson, almost burned the party down..

When she had her turn and tried to realize her vision of a low-tax, low-regulation, high-growth Britain, it didn't go well. After she announced her economic program, the pound sterling fell, interest rates rose and the Bank of England had to to intervene. Abandoning a central part of the plan was not enough to appease her critics, and she resigned soon after. (Even Mr Canning, who survived his injuries and eventually became Prime Minister, lasted longer. He died of pneumonia after 119 days.)

People deal with public failure in different ways. For Ms. Truss, the method appears to be twofold. First, insist that she was and is right, but was foiled by the deep state. Second, see if America could buy what it's selling.

Last April, she gave the Margaret Thatcher Lecture on Freedom at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, where she described how she was outmaneuvered by the establishment. I simply underestimated the breadth and depth of that resistance and the breadth and depth with which it reached the media and the broader establishment, she said. The anti-growth movement, in which it appears to include President Biden, the IMF, the British Treasury and the Bank of England, among others, focuses on redistributionism, stagnation and the permeation of woke culture in our businesses.

This year, in February, she said At the Maryland Conservative Political Action Conference, the West has been run by the left for too long and we saw it was a complete disaster. (The Conservatives have governed Britain for 14 years.) Real Conservatives, she says, now operate in a hostile environment. We basically need a bigger bazooka to be able to keep our promises. At CPAC, she also spoke to Steve Bannon, whom she invited to come to Britain to sort out the problem in Britain, and told Nigel Farage that she felt safer for the West when Donald Trump was president.

And now here is Ten Years to Save the West, whose title seems aimed squarely at America, but whose content often seems strangely parochial. Mrs Truss writes that she went to Balmoral to accept Elizabeth II's invitation to form a government. Here, Elizabeth II is a soothsayer. She warned me that being Prime Minister is incredibly aging. She also gave me two pieces of advice: pace yourself. Maybe I should have listened.

She's not sure the flat above Downing Street would be well-rated on Airbnb. It was a bit soulless, she writes. It was apparently infested with fleas. And she couldn't sleep because of the noise, including from the clock at the neighboring Horse Guards, which chimed every quarter of an hour. Imagining her flea-bitten and exhausted made me think of a line from Thackerays Vanity Fair. Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?

At the time she took her resignation, she writes, it seemed like just another dramatic moment in a very strange movie in which I had somehow been cast, which, to me, seemed to be the truth.

It is unclear whether Ms. Truss will be able to read an American play better than a British play. In the book, she describes America as Britain's proudest creation, albeit unintentional, and she criticizes Mr Biden, who has called his tax cuts for the rich a mistake. It was total hypocrisy and ignorance, she wrote. She notes, on the other hand, that she was an early fan of The Apprentice and appreciated Mr. Trump's catchphrases and sassy business advice.

But Americans who fear the deep state aren't necessarily those who want a small one, and Ms. Truss is a lousy speaker. I would expect conservative Americans to see her as a curiosity and look to more familiar and charismatic icons. But we never know.

Who is to blame for Liz Truss? Perhaps it was the wind of the story. Or a political system that rewards risk-taking and narcissism. Or maybe it was 14 years of a party in power, at the end of which are the people who held on long enough.

Or it was Boris Johnson, who appointed him foreign minister in his own government. (Mr. Johnson is now a tabloid columnist who writes about his late-night chorizo ​​binges and how much he loves his lawnmowerso he has nothing to laugh about either.)

The Conservative Party is leaving for the desert. Many MPs will not even run in the next elections, which are due to take place by January. And Ms Truss herself could lose her seat, in Norfolk, to James Bagge, who is running as an independent. Mr Bagge is part of a local cohort concerned about issues such as the National Health Service and the cost of living, and unimpressed by Ms Truss's world travels. Truss says she has ten years to save the West, he recently said The Times of London. Well, we have six months to save Norfolk.

I wonder if Mrs. Truss is coming for America because her Norfolk enemies are coming for her. The end of the conservative game is here. The land of opportunity is calling.

Tanya Gold is a British journalist.

Photographs by Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press and RunPhoto, Issaraway Tattong, Cathering Fall Commerical, Flashpop, posteriori and Carl Court/Getty Images

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