OPINION - Ocado deliveries, Nigel Farage's birthday and the Queen's final advice: key revelations from Liz Truss's book

Liz Truss  (Getty Images)
Liz Truss (Getty Images)

A shaky camera phone tracks to a woman in a bright white room holding two books. ‘The West is in danger,’ she warns earnestly, ‘if we’re gonna win it back we need real conservative values being implemented.’ This is Liz Truss who, 18 months ago, was the head of government in the world’s sixth largest economy, a nuclear-armed power with a permanent seat on the United Nations’ Security Council. Now she is plugging her book, out this week, on X.

In her left hand is the UK edition, titled Ten Years to Save the West: Lessons From the Only Conservative in the Room. In her right, the US edition, with its helpful strap banner reminding readers that the author is ‘Liz Truss, former Prime Minister of Great Britain’. The initial advance for the UK version was a paltry £1,512.88, about 0.29 per cent of the advance Boris Johnson got for his forthcoming book. But that is just further vindication for Truss, who stood at the peak of the British establishment but now scorns it as the ‘deep state’, wallowing in her outsider status.

The Queen with Liz Truss during an audience at Balmoral (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
The Queen with Liz Truss during an audience at Balmoral (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

Of course a fact that may have eluded you — because you were busy laughing at the sheer gall of the title — is that this is really a prime ministerial memoir, and therefore merits a considerable vetting process from the civil service. Pity the poor Whitehall mandarins who have been bogged down with the manuscript, sifting through relevant chapters of the book in search of accidental leaks or national security breaches. ‘At least David Cameron waited a few years,’ says one Whitehall wag whose department was run by Truss in the middle of her 12-year career in government.

Because Truss’ spectacular crash-out from No 10 only happened 18 months ago, any revelations in her book about colleagues still serving in government could easily become big news. The convention, under the so-called Radcliffe Rules that guide post-government memoirs, is to avoid any such compromising material — will Truss the maverick be adhering to such ‘deep state’ mantras? Not likely. To prove her self-appointed title as ‘the only conservative in the room’, Truss will need to blab about what the other people ‘in the room’ were saying, not least her successor, Rishi Sunak. The already embattled PM could do without explosive headlines from the book about what he said in X Cabinet meeting or what his real position was on Y policy. He should be so lucky. Extracts serialised in newspapers over the weekend already provide revelations about everything from the Queen’s final days (she told Truss to “pace yourself”) to the difficulty of ordering a food delivery, lettuce and all, to 10 Downing Street (Ocado thought it was a hoax).

But Truss doesn’t want this book to be important because of the headlines it generates. She wants it to stand on its ideas. This is the tax-cutting, free market dogma she momentarily pioneered in Downing Street before being cast out with the food waste. She hasn’t given up — it was the voters, who gave her the lowest approval rating of any prime minister in history, who were wrong, along with the papers, the markets, the banks, etc.

Despite her humiliation in office, she has been almost admirably restless since leaving Downing Street. Her latest public appearance was at Nigel Farage’s 60th birthday party last week, held at the Boisdale in Canary Wharf, where she reminded fellow attendees to pick up a copy of her forthcoming book. The guest list was interesting but not star-studded — excluding Donald Trump’s pre-recorded appearance to wish Farage the ‘prophetic leader’ a happy birthday, the most famous person there was Holly Valance. But the combined wealth in the room is interesting — there was a clustering of limelight-shy billionaires with fiercely right-wing views who are keen to hear more from the short-serving former PM.

That’s not to say Truss says what she says for the money — that would be an unfair slight on her genuine fanaticism. Rather, Truss and her ideological fellow travellers will need resourceful backers to keep pushing her views despite their unpopularity among the public. A full wallet can be a strong antidote to an empty ballot box.

Actual Tories — lovers of tradition and institutions — are frankly offended by her assumption of the mantle of ‘real conservative values’. This from the woman who decapitated the Treasury, dismissed the pleas of the Bank of England and killed the Queen (joke). They describe her variously as a Jacobin and a fanatic with ‘unparalleled revolutionary zeal’.

Liz Truss & Nigel Farage at CPAC (AP)
Liz Truss & Nigel Farage at CPAC (AP)

But it is in the United States, where she has little baggage, that Truss hopes to thrive; in February, she appeared as a star guest at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a right-wing gathering now dominated by Trump supporters. Her parliamentary register of interests, which she will be obliged to fill out so long as she sits as an MP, reveals the extent of her jet-setting to the States. Truss has enjoyed courtesy use of the VIP lounges at Heathrow and Gatwick airports 15 times in the past year, as she hops back and forth to Washington.

In Britain there is a great gulf between a few people in Westminster who still take Truss seriously and the rest of the country, where she is variously scorned and laughed at. But over in America, the largely unknown former PM might just have a clean slate. The initial advance for the US version of the book, while still puny, was about six times larger than for the UK edition. So don’t be so surprised if Ten Years to Save the West ends up flying off the shelves in Barnes & Noble.