Kate Andrews Kate Andrews

Trussonomics: a beginner’s guide

[Illustration: Natasha Lawson]

When polls started to show Liz Truss miles ahead of Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership contest, her team adopted a cautious campaign strategy. Why gamble on another interview with Nick Robinson when last time she had struggled to name a single economist who backed her economic plans? Eventually she landed on Professor Patrick Minford, an academic at Cardiff Business School and a bullish Brexiteer. Minford went on the record calling for interest rates to rise to 7 per cent, which Truss then had to defend and deflect.

But that moment in the Robinson interview, widely reported as a humiliation, turned out to be one of the most helpful points in her campaign. Within days, like-minded economists were grouping together to praise her tax-cutting agenda. She went from seemingly having no support for her economic vision to having the endorsement of established and respected economists. The phrase ‘Trussonomics’ was first used as a dig at the Foreign Secretary’s eternal optimism and radical economic ideology. Now, since it’s likely to be Britain’s new economic strategy in the days to come, there are more serious attempts to work out what it might mean.

So far, the details have been a mystery even to her supporters because she’s been running a closed campaign. ‘There’s an iron wall around the inner circle,’ says one frustrated MP who is backing Truss. ‘They don’t want policy suggestions from us.’ The big political and economic decisions have instead been hashed out by a small number of her advisers. But while MPs struggle to get their economic advice heard, outside advice is funnelling through. Minford, Gerard Lyons and Julian Jessop make up the trio of economists closest to the Truss campaign (although they are not officially part of the team).

All three men have long-standing Westminster connections. Lyons, the former chief economist at Standard Chartered Bank, offered up economic advice to Boris Johnson over the years.

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