Newyork

Liz Truss Is Coming for America

Liz Truss was the prime minister of Britain for 49 days in 2022, an interregnum between Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak that was so short it was outlasted by a lettuce. In the annals of British decline, Ms. Truss will be remembered for being in office just 3 days when Queen Elizabeth II died, and her plan for an enormous and apparently unfunded tax cut, which she abruptly dropped after a run on the pound.

If this were the 19th century, Ms. Truss would have perhaps exiled herself to a country estate where peacocks roamed the grounds or fought her enemies with pistols. (In 1809 the foreign secretary, George Canning, was wounded in a duel with the war minister.) But this is not a time of penance or honor. Instead, Ms. Truss has reinvented herself as a populist and has a new book, “Ten Years to Save the West: Leading the Revolution Against Globalism, Socialism, and the Liberal Establishment,” which is part memoir, part pitch 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-monarchy member of the centrist Liberal Democrats, before transmogrifying into an uneasy Margaret Thatcher tribute act. She voted to remain in the European Union and then remade herself as a champion of Brexit. She survived every government from 2012 until her own. As environment secretary she got memorably angry about cheese — “We import two-thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace” — but was never really considered a likely leader of the Conservative Party until her predecessor Mr. Johnson almost burned the party down.

When she did get her turn and tried to execute her vision of a low-tax, low-regulation, high-growth Britain, it did not go well. After she announced her economic program, the pound sank, interest rates shot up and the Bank of England had to intervene. Abandoning a central plank of the plan was not enough to mollify her critics, and she resigned soon after. (Even Mr. Canning, who survived his wounds 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 seems to be twofold. First, to insist that she was and is right but was foiled by the deep state. Second, to see if America might buy what she’s selling.

Last April she gave the Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she sketched out how she was foiled by the establishment. “I simply underestimated the scale and depth of this resistance and the scale and depth to which it reached into the media and into the broader establishment,” she said. The anti-growth movement, in which she seems to include President Biden, the I.M.F., the British Treasury and the Bank of England, among others, is “focused on redistributionism, on stagnation and on the imbuing of woke culture into our businesses.”

Back to top button