‘Five-year-old on acid’: Liz Truss’s Ten Years to Save the West, digested by John Crace

<span>Illustration: Ben Jennings/The Guardian</span>
Illustration: Ben Jennings/The Guardian

I was impatient to get going. Plans had been made. I picked up my phone. “ChatGPT. Write me a memoir in the style of an excitable five-year-old on acid.”

“We’ve only got 10 years to save the west,” I declared solemnly.

“We’d have had a lot longer than that if you hadn’t become prime minister,” replied my husband, Hugh. My rock, as always.

I was on the way to my audience with the queen, deeply aware of the huge honour I was doing her. There was fog over Aberdeen. Taking no chances, I parachuted into the grounds of Balmoral.

“Good morning, Your Majesty. The Trusster is at your service,” I said.

“We really are scraping the barrel now,” the queen replied. “My first prime minister was Winston. Now it’s come to this.”

I felt overwhelmed by the solemnity of the occasion and will never forget her parting words to me; the last words she ever spoke to a British prime minister. “Don’t forget to close the door behind you.” So typical of her lifetime of service.

Just two days later, I was in the Commons when news reached me that the queen was drawing her last breath. The moment I had thought would never happen was happening. It had never occurred to me that a 96-year-old woman might die. I was overwhelmed with sadness that the queen would never get to see me again. How proud she would have been that I mangled one of the readings at her funeral.

I phoned Buckingham Palace to offer my condolences. I felt a strange camaraderie with the new king. Like him, I was unelected and really had no idea what I was doing. “Why me, why now?” I sobbed, breaking down into floods of tears. Strangely, that was precisely what the rest of the country was thinking.

This isn’t going to be a typical political memoir. Largely because no previous prime minister has screwed up quite so catastrophically and so quickly. So the story of my final days in Downing Street is really that of my whole prime ministerial career. But I don’t regret a thing. I never even wanted to be prime minister which is why I allowed my name to be put forward to become prime minister. Is an editor even reading this drivel before it gets published?

My first ministerial post was in the education department, where I managed to achieve precisely nothing. That was because the coalition government was full of Marxists, such as Nick Clegg, and the civil service acted like an unelected elite lettuce. Woke thinking was very much to the fore, with the emphasis on being nice to foreigners. Meanwhile our schools were turning out children who could barely read or write. People very like me. My next job at the environment department followed a similar pattern. Leftwing net zero diktats against pouring sewage into rivers, banning onshore wind farms, building roads and continuing offshore drilling meant that I again achieved nothing.

In fact, this was the story of almost my entire ministerial career. At the justice department, the bien pensants blocked me from reforming the prisons service. Time and again I was prevented from transporting convicts to Australia. It was this type of group think that reduced my department to inertia. I had had enough of successive, socialist Conservative governments; it was time for a Conservative government.

I achieved more at international trade. Here I negotiated a stunning trade deal with North Macedonia which was worth a staggering 0.00002% growth to GDP over the next 50 years. I had looked the naysayers in the face and had proved them wrong. Largely thanks to me, Brexit was back on track. Here was the bonus I had promised back in 2016 when I had campaigned to keep the UK inside the EU. Not long after, I also landed trade deals with Australia and New Zealand that even my critics had to admit were completely hopeless and would provide no discernible benefits to the UK.

But it was as foreign secretary that I truly excelled. Who can forget my efforts to recolonise the West Indies and east Africa? Or indeed my Instagram account. My efforts at cosplaying Margaret Thatcher riding around in a tank made the front page of the Daily Mail. That showed Russia the UK was not to be taken lightly. Take that, comrade Putin!

All in all, though, my long ministerial career had almost nothing to show for it after the best part of 12 years. So when Boris Johnson resigned unnecessarily, I immediately flew back to the UK from Indonesia, where I was doing nothing, to throw my hat into the ring. Along with other cliches. As Hugh said to me: “We’ve already had three totally useless Tory prime ministers. So I guess another one won’t hurt.”

Why was I standing? I felt compelled to. Destiny called. A last chance to destroy the country. Immediately I activated my leadership campaign. It wouldn’t be easy. Rishi Sunak had had his campaign in place for months and had the support of most of the Conservative MPs who were all closet lefties. But my secret weapon was the Tory party members. They were all just as clinically insane as me.

My leadership launch in Smith Square was almost over before it had begun. I could hear my good friend, Kwasi Kwarteng, making the introductions and calling my name but I was being kept locked out of the room by the communists.

“How do I get in?” I asked Hugh in desperation.

“You could try the door,” he suggested.

“What’s that?”

“That thing with a handle.”

Eventually I fought my way past the Deep State door to give a stunning call to arms. “You can trust me not to deliver,” I said before choosing to exit the room via the first floor window. I wasn’t going to be thwarted by the door again. That’s how determined I was.

The endless hustings were something of a trial. For some reason people expected me to talk in fully formed sentences rather than a valium-fuelled staccato monotone. But I somehow made it through and by the time the Tory members were allowed to vote, I was confident I would win.

“We have no time to lose, Kwasi,” I said, on our first day in Downing Street. “Let’s get some lunch.”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” Hugh replied. “I am afraid Ocado haven’t delivered. They thought it must be a joke that I changed the address to Downing Street. When I assured them that it was for real, they said they might as well deliver to the old address as we would be bound to be back there soon.”

Downing Street wasn’t the most convivial place to live. For one thing, it was infested with fleas. At first I thought they must have come from Dilyn the dog. But we were eventually able to trace the source to a pair of Boris’s soiled underpants that had been given to him by Nadine Dorries as a Christmas present.

But I wasn’t in No 10 to enjoy myself. There was work to be done. The Tory woke establishment may have completely ruined the country, but my job was to finish off the task. Have I mentioned before that everyone but me and the Daily Telegraph are Chinese spies?

“First off, Kwasi,” I said. ‘You’ve got to promise me you will not consult anyone with any expertise for your mini-budget. Not the OBR or the IMF. No one who might actually know what they know what they are doing.”

“You can trust me, Liz. Only yesterday I slashed the NHS budget by sacking all the doctors and nurses. People need more get-up-and-go spirit to perform open heart surgery on themselves.”

“Great. Next we will get rid of all the judges and civil servants. This is going to be the first moronocracy.”

The mini-budget was a triumph. I was ecstatic. The pound plummeting against the dollar. The first prime minister in history to nearly bankrupt a country within days. Hours later I was swamped with messages from mortgage holders who were so grateful that their monthly payments had almost doubled. Previously they had had so much spare cash that they didn’t know how to spend it. Thank God we didn’t listen to the naysayers. Otherwise we might have heard of liability-driven investments.

Alas, it couldn’t last. I had dared to challenge the establishment orthodoxy that wrecking the economy wasn’t a terribly good idea and was to be punished. Everything began to unravel.

“I’m afraid I’ve got to sack you, Kwasi,” I said.

“Why? It was all your idea.”

“Because it might buy me another three days in Downing St.”

“Who are you going to get instead?”

“Jeremy Hunt.”

“But he knows nothing about economics.”

“Neither do you. But he looks plausible. In any case we agreed we weren’t going to have experts.”

Not long after, the game was up and I went back to the palace.

“Ah,” said the king. “I thought you’d be back here fairly swiftly.”





There, there Liz. It’s time for your afternoon medication. There you go, a nice shot of fentanyl. Back to sleep …

Digested read, digested: IT’S A DISGRACE