I don’t doubt for a second that Liz Truss, standing to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister, had Maggie Thatcher in mind when she gave what she calculated to be a hard-nosed-but-frank opinion of Donald Trump. Specifically, she said Trump said lots of things that “proved to be true.”
The foreign secretary said she, like Trump, wanted the G7 group of leading democracies to be turned into an “economic Nato” that can defend itself better against Chinese global influence. She conveniently neglected to mention that Trump wished to do so by reconvening G7 as G8, so he could get his buddy Vladimir Putin back into the fight. Russia was key — and quite probably the only key — for that particular political utterance. Russia’s need to assert supremacy over China was behind that idea. G7 would have none of it, of course.
Remembering where she was and who she was talking about, Truss then hastened to add that “There are also things [Trump has] said that haven’t proved to be true.” She also understands how much Trump is hated here. Nevertheless, she just couldn’t help invoking his name, particularly because she understands it gets headlines. And so it has, right on schedule.
Some politicians just can’t stay away from controversial utterances, and I suspect Liz Truss may be one of those. You know the type, they begin sentences with things such as, “say what you like about Hitler, but …”. There’s something unmistakably false about Ms. Truss that makes her my number two in the current list of very bad choices.
My first bad choice is former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. He is now, surprisingly, trailing Ms. Truss in the current balloting to replace Boris. Sunak is a billionaire, and as such is somewhat more out of touch with the common voter than his mere millionaire Tory colleagues.
But Sunak appears to be the only candidate who understands that you cannot tax-cut your way out of an inflationary economy. Post-pandemic Britain is going to have to endure some pain in order to recover. Taking money away from the National Health Service and giving it to Britain’s middle and upper class isn’t the way to do it. But it’s a popular position among Tories nonetheless, and Sunak’s more successful opponent Liz Truss is going with what’s popular, not with what’s true.
If Truss becomes the next Prime Minister of Britain it will be the third time in history that the United Kingdom had a woman in that role. It’s unfortunate that all three of them were Conservatives, but it’s still a victory for women, and a grim reminder that America could have saved itself a lot of trouble if it had had just one woman President.
As to saying that Trump said “lots of things that were true,” so what? So did Hitler. So did every monster who ever lived. You cannot tell lies 100% of the time and survive on the planet to adulthood. It’s a stupid, stupid thing to say. It’s particularly stupid when everyone who isn’t a moron knows that Donald Trump was and remains a pathological liar.
It’s one of those “little known facts” kind of things that the drunk at the end of the bar likes to say because he knows it will provoke controversy. But in the end, does it matter? At the end of all of this one of them, Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, will become prime minister. In the words of Simon and Garfunkel, “Every way you look at it you lose.” And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.