Liz Truss quoted Seneca in her farewell speech - but Del Boy Trotter would have been more apt (Getty / BBC)
On 6 September Liz Truss stood in front of the famous Downing Street door, under thundery skies, and said in her maiden speech as Prime Minister: “I am confident that, together, we can ride out the storm.”
She didn’t so much ride out the storm as plunge the nation into its epicentre. Today, a mere 50 days after that speech, Truss emerged from the same black door to give her farewell address. The skies above may have been a bit brighter, but she leaves the UK in a worse state than she inherited it, after a farcically short and economically disastrous reign.
Her outgoing address should have been a moment for humility and contrition. An acknowledgement, however tacit, that her policies had caused mortgage rates to spiral out of control, for pension funds to teeter on the brink, and for the cost of living crisis to deepen for everyone in the country. Instead, like a broken record, all we got was another steadfast defence of her low-tax, high-growth ideology.
In a statement of knuckle-headed arrogance that would make even Boris Johnson look like a model of contrite integrity, she said that her government had “acted urgently and decisively on the side of hard working families and businesses”. If it wasn’t for someone outside the Downing Street gates blaring the Kaiser Chiefs song ‘I Predict a Riot’, you’d surely hear the nation collectively laugh - not in appreciation but in incredulity.
Truss is, and always was, a bad joke - and one without a punchline. Her most notable moment before becoming PM was talking about opening up new “pork markets” in Beijing and extolling the virtues of British apples for British people. Her awkward, barely watchable style of delivery improved slightly during the tortuous Tory leadership contest, but reverted back to shop mannequin levels of charisma for this speech.
She attempted to add a degree of Johnsonian rhetoric (that is, garbled, self-delusional references to antiquity) when she quoted the Roman philosopher Seneca. After stumbling over his simple, three-syllable name, she said: “It’s not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it’s because we do not dare, that they are difficult.”
Certainly, Truss could have benefited from that kind of Stoic thinking during her time in office. But a more apt intellectual reference for Truss might have been Del Boy Trotter. “She who dares, Rodney, she who dares.”
Like the Only Fools and Horses favourite, ‘Trussonomics’ was all about brazen, pie-in-the-sky financial capers that come to nothing on contact with reality.
Now though, Truss can drive her rickety Reliant Robin into the sunset, as Rishi Sunak’s sleek limo glides into Downing Street. Those storm clouds, meanwhile, are still gathering on the horizon.