Sam Leith Sam Leith

Liz Truss, Brexit and the petulant anger at reality

Liz Truss (Credit: Getty images)

The time it takes to mount a political comeback gets shorter and shorter, doesn’t it? The last prime minister but one barely got his toes in the sand on his first holiday after leaving the post before he was flying home with thoughts of mounting a return to high office. Now his successor, too, is campaigning to get on track to get her old job back. 

The first wallop of Liz Truss’s one-two punch was a long article for the Sunday Telegraph explaining why the mini-Budget that so spectacularly sunk her premiership was, in fact, absolutely the right thing to do; punch number two will be an interview with Spectator TV that goes up this very afternoon. I’m interested, as I expect we all are, to see how she develops there the arguments that her piece for the Telegraph set out.   

The gist of her case there was that, though in hindsight she might have worked on selling the ‘optics’ of her policies better, she was basically right all along. It was only the economic naivety and left-leaning groupthink of the Treasury, the OBR, ‘large parts of the media and wider public’, the parliamentary Conservative party, almost every academic economist and the international money markets that did her down. My colleague Kate Andrews has elegantly dissected that article in more detail and with more economic expertise than I could aspire to – but it strikes me as worth pulling focus a little to look at the general shape of the thing.  

Here is an argument of the form that the theory was right, and that the real failure was that of reality to conform to it. That’s an odd thing to see coming from a Tory. It’s a shape of argument that traditionally belongs to the utopian left – communism, as was ruefully remarked, being the ‘right idea, wrong species’.

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