One might think if you’d been involved with the biggest disaster involving an iceberg this side of the Titanic, you might want to keep your head down for a while. Not so for former Prime Minister and future Pointless answer Liz Truss, who was famously outlasted by an iceberg lettuce after sinking the economy with a disastrous ‘mini-budget’ which lasted about as long as James Cameron’s Oscar-winning movie.

This week the MP for South-West Norfolk was back on the scene to tell us that, actually, she’d been right all along but had been thwarted by the ‘economic establishment’ and ‘institutional bureaucracy’, much in the same way Captain Edward Smith’s good name has been sullied by the revisionist history of the not-sailing-into-things elite and the flotation orthodoxy.

But, as future generations watching archive footage of the death of Queen Elizabeth will surely ask, who is Liz Truss?

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Teenage misadventures

Born Mary Elizabeth Truss – she’s always gone by her middle name, preferring it to her given name – the future Prime Minister was born into a family she described as being “to the left of Labour”. Indeed, when she eventually stood as a Conservative candidate Ms Truss’ father refused to campaign alongside her.

At the age of two she moved with her family to Warsaw, Poland but the Eastern Bloc country was too “grim” for the Trusses, who later moved to Paisley. Though she spent just six years in the town, attending West Primary School, Ms Truss’ stay in East Renfrewshire was sufficient for visiting Kilmarnock fans to taunt St Mirren supporters with “she’s one of your own” in the wake of the mini-budget.

The Herald: Liz Truss

The itinerant family would have further stops in Leeds and Canada, before Ms Truss defied her parents’ wishes by attending Oxford University rather than Cambridge. There she studied  philosophy, politics and, in a literary technique known as foreshadowing, economics as well as becoming active in the Liberal Democrat student movement. During this time she advocated for the legalisation of marijuana and the abolition of the monarchy, both of which she would later disavow.

“We all make mistakes, we all had teenage misadventures, and that was mine,” Ms Truss said during a leadership hustings in 2022. “Some people have sex, drugs and rock and roll, I was in the Liberal Democrats.”

Cheesed off

After leaving university Ms Truss worked for fossil fuel giant Shell, among others, and qualified as a chartered accountant but her true passion was always politics. After twice failing to be elected as an MP and following a short stint on Greenwich Council, she was added to the ‘A-List’ of potential Conservative candidates for the 2010 general election by David Cameron and duly elected to the safe seat of South-West Norfolk.

Seen as a rising star of the party, she co-founded the Free Enterprise Group (FEG) - a grouping of over 30 Thatcherite Conservative MPs which included the likes of Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab – and was appointed education under-secretary in 2012. There her controversial plans for childminding were met with opposition from trade unions, childminders themselves and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, but it wouldn’t be until a reshuffle that Ms Truss first came to national attention.

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Having been appointed secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, the future leader of the Conservative Party was roundly mocked for a stilted and, frankly bizarre speech at her party’s 2014 conference which featured lines such as “we import nine-tenths of our cheese… that is a DISGRACE”.

Ms Truss backed remain in the Brexit referendum, but when David Cameron resigned in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union she was handed a plum job in Theresa May’s first cabinet. Despite a lack of legal experience she was appointed as secretary of state for justice, attracting widespread derision for suggesting barking dogs could be used to scare drug-laden drones away from prisons.

Following the 2017 election she was demoted to become chief secretary to the treasury.

Boris backer

Though she considered standing to replace Ms May herself, Ms Truss became the first minister to endorse Boris Johnson in his bid to become Prime Minister in 2019. Made international trade secretary by the new PM, Ms Truss met with a series of American right-wing think tanks to discuss libertarian market ideals, notably deregulation and tax cuts. She also developed a reputation for loose lips, with advisor Dominic Cummings later describing her as being prone to “compulsive pathological leaking”.

The Herald: Liz Truss

That didn’t prevent her from being made foreign secretary in a 2021 reshuffle – at this point it’s tempting to return to the Titanic metaphor and reach for the word “deckchairs” – in the dying days of Mr Johnson’s premiership. One of her first orders of business was to pose in a tank in the frozen Estonian winter as she warned Vladimir Putin against invading Ukraine. Footage was later played on Russian state television accompanied by circus music.

While it would be unfair to say Ms Truss could have done anything to have prevented the machinations of the Kremlin, it doesn’t appear counterpart Sergey Lavrov was intimidated by her tough stance. Following a meeting he described as “a mute and with a deaf”, it was claimed the British foreign secretary had said the UK would never accept “Russian sovereignty over the Voronezh and Rostov regions” – both of which are already in Russia.


Following the undignified defenestration of Boris Johnson, it was widely assumed Rishi Sunak would replace him. Instead it was Ms Truss who swept to power on the promise of tax cuts and economic growth, with almost her first order of business being to deal with the death of Queen Elizabeth.

Appointing Kwasi Kwarteng as her Chancellor, the pair immediately set about putting their free market ideals into practice with a ‘mini-budget’, unscrutinised by the Office for Budget Responsibility – with disastrous results.

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Supply-side economics postulates that by cutting taxes - particularly on the highest earners - and getting rid of regulations, businesses will use their extra capital to hire more staff, and therefore tax revenue to the treasury will actually increase. This is in contrast to demand-side (or Keynesian) economics which holds that consumer spending leads to business expansion, thereby creating more jobs in a virtuous cycle.

It is to the Keynesian faction Ms Truss presumably refers when she declares the “the left-wing economic establishment” brought down her grand schemes, even if it’s debatable that the International Monetary Fund and the Office for Budget Responsibility are committed leftists. When bond agency Moody’s criticised the mini-budget it cited concerns over “risks to the UK's debt affordability”, but perhaps this is industry speak for “workers should have democratic control over the means of production”. The former Prime Minister herself may have been taking cues from Marx, who famously called for the abolition of private property – it’s hard to maintain private property when no-one can afford their mortgage anymore.

To cut a long story short, the international money markets were resolutely unconvinced by Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng’s plans to slash taxes while boosting spending, causing the pound to crash and leading to fears the UK would have to ask the IMF for a bailout.

While the government initially tried to stand by its budget – Ms Truss called skeptics ‘the anti-growth coalition’ – it soon became apparent the grand plan was doomed. Mr Kwarteng was dismissed after just 38 days, with Jeremy Hunt arriving with the air of a disappointed parent to reverse most of the measures. Six days later, Ms Truss announced her own resignation – comfortably outlasted by the Daily Star’s iceberg lettuce.

Since her brief reign, Ms Truss has popped up intermittently to declare, as she did this week, that she was right all along. History seems unlikely to support this view, with Labour promising to increase the responsibility of the OBR if it wins at the next election so "that disaster of a budget" can never be repeated. It must be hoped any such measure will prove as effective as the International Ice Patrol – the body was set up in the aftermath of the Titanic sinking and there hasn’t been a ship lost to an iceberg since.