A week is a long time in politics, as the old cliche goes. We never know what could be just around the corner, and I have very bad form in that regard.
My previous two columns in July and September have failed to predict Boris Johnson’s resignation and the death of the Queen. Thankfully, Liz Truss resigned a week before my copy deadline, so the UK now has its third Prime Minister in as many months, chosen under a system which makes China look like a democracy.
Who knows what could happen between me finishing this piece and it actually appearing in print? I suppose it is possible for a minister to be sacked for a severe security breach and to be back in cabinet seven days later but, of course, that’s hardly likely to actually happen, is it? After all, the new government has publicly promised to be boring, which certainly tears up the previous script.
For someone with no apparent sense of humour, Liz Truss’s term in Downing Street proved to be a laugh-a-minute for forty-five days on end. Everyone already knew that she’d be out of her depth working behind the customer services counter in Morrison’s. However, I don’t think anyone could have predicted she’d be quite so shit, quite so quickly. It’s a shame it only lasted six weeks. I was just beginning to enjoy the fun.
With the country already teetering on the brink of disaster, Truss and her bunch of half-witted zealots were determined to finish off the job in double-quick time. Like all great comic actors, Truss didn’t play for laughs but delivered the lines as if she actually believed them. Her appointments of Kwasi Kwarteng, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Therese Coffey to the cabinet were a master stroke in taking the piss. An economically-illiterate Chancellor of the Exchequer, a climate-change denier in charge of the environment and a health secretary who looked one drag of her cigar away from a fatal coronary.
When it came to self-destruction, Mogadon Lettuce Liz’s government certainly hit the ground running. Her time in office may have been shorter than the shelf life of an iceberg lettuce, and she spent most of that time hiding under her desk. But in a little over a month, she managed to tank the economy, give the opposition a thirty-point lead in the polls, send the England football team plunging out of the top tier in Europe, made Michael Gove appear reasonable and killed the Queen.
If you think that last claim is far-fetched, just consider the facts. The last time Elizabeth II was photographed in public, she was shaking hands with Liz Truss. Two days later, she kicked the bucket. This was someone many considered indestructible – someone who lived through World War II, survived seventy years of marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh, and who even walked away unharmed after being thrown out of a helicopter at the start of the London Olympics. Who would have thought it would only take one handshake from Grim Reaper Truss to see her off?
Of course, in a previous life as a student Lib Dem, Elizabeth Truss (as she called herself at the time) made a speech to their party conference in favour of abolishing the monarchy. It is, therefore, possible she was playing the long game, biding her time for twenty odd years so she could pick the Royal Family off one by one. However, it would appear that the King has survived the handshake treatment, after she went to Buckingham Palace to resign. Or at least he had, at the time of writing. Maybe the curse of this column will strike again.
Of course, if Prime Ministers keep resigning at the rate of one a month, King Charles is in grave danger of actually having to work for a living. His mother only had to deal with the paperwork of appointing a new PM fifteen times in seventy years. He’s having to sift through the applications on a daily basis at present.
So how will the new ‘boring’ government shape up? Sunak did appear to be utterly bored with the sound of his own voice when he stood in Downing Street on day one. But it looks like Rishi is going to keep some of the best gags in his script for Number Ten: The Farcical Years. While Kwarteng and Rees-Mogg have been consigned to the dustbin of history, Coffey has been moved sideways to be in charge of the environment. Really? If toxic waste could take on human form, I’m pretty sure it would look very much like Therese Coffey.
And, of course, he has brought back Suella Braverman who apparently only very slightly breached the Ministerial Code. Right now, she is doubtless sitting in the Home Office, hatching more crackpot plans, such as making tofu a Class A drug. Boring? Watch this space.