Express & Star

Can Liz Truss succeed with her bulldozer politics?

Liz Truss imagined that after a bruising, self-indulgent scrap with Rishi Sunak, she’d breeze into Number 10 and begin to blaze a trail.

Liz Truss’s in-tray is overflowing

The sad death of Queen Elizabeth II put an end to that, of course, but the white heat of politics is returning, and the new Prime Minister’s in-tray is overflowing.

She’s been schooled in diplomacy during the past week or so by King Charles III, who has helped to created a Kingdom United, rather than the Disunited Kingdom that Boris Johnson presided over.

While King Charles wore a kilt to meet Nicola Sturgeon, Liz Truss said she would ignore the First Minister. Our new monarch has been humble, realising the strength of the Royal Family relies on consensual support. Truss appears to have been taking notes from the Johnson/Trump playbook, which never ends well.

King Charles III receives Prime Minister Liz Truss in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace in London

The Tories were elected on a promise to do two things: Firstly, they said they’d get Brexit done. It hasn’t gone well. Businesses are suffering, we’re getting middling deals with far-flung nations while being unable to work with our closest friends and allies because of the mountain of red tape that has been reintroduced.

The second was Levelling Up, a policy that in practice doesn’t seem to exist. While Boris Johnson paid it lip-service, Liz Truss has so far shown little sign she cares about inequality or the need to invest in such economically deprived areas as the Black Country.

The Red Wall that turned Blue has – it seems – been sold down the river.

The relationship between Truss and King Charles will be critical. While Queen Elizabeth II seldom expressed a view – with the possible exception of her love for Scotland and desire to see our United Kingdom remain precisely that – the new King has taken a different path.

Since the 1970s, he’s been an advocate of environmentalism, frequently being viewed as potty when, in fact, he was simply ahead of his time.

With views aligned to those of a true national treasure, Sir David Attenborough, King Charles told Cop 26 in Glasgow that world leaders should be on a war footing to tackle climate change because time had quite literally run out.

His views, therefore, on the appointment of climate change sceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg as Business Secretary can easily be discerned. Truss herself has thrown the baby out with the bathwater, looking to scrap green levies on energy bills and speaking out against solar panels in rural areas.

Instead, she’s moved to support the divisive issue of fracking, which it is claimed brings the risk of earthquakes, and water and air pollution. She wants to drill for more gas and oil in the North Sea, even though much of it won’t be available for decades, by which time the earth will have warmed further and the opportunity to switch to cleaner, greener technologies will have been missed.

King Charles has shown that the future of the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remains as close to his heart as it was to his mother’s. Truss plans to rip up the Northern Ireland protocol and her relations with Scotland and Wales are as frosty as a January morning.

The new king has also spoken about his concerns over the spiralling cost of living. In contrast, Truss hit her campaign trail saying no to handouts – before making one of a series of regular U-turns.

Rather than focusing on levelling up and helping those who literally can’t afford to heat or eat, she’s focusing on bankers’ bonuses.

The champagne corks will be popping in Canary Wharf, while Labour will rub its hands gleefully at her political own goal, which creates a clear us-and-them narrative. Her vision of Brexit – as a former Remainer – is to pursue a path of deregulation, which will likely make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

The only wonder is that anyone ever believed Brexit would benefit either the working or middle classes – that £350 million a week to the ailing NHS never did materialise, did it? And nor did the sunlit uplands. 2008 taught us not to let The City operate as an anything-goes financial centre.

As it stands, it seems that Truss is taking us back to that dystopian era: austerity for the poor and riches for the wealthy.

We’ve been here before – and we know it doesn’t end well.