Liz Truss says 'sorry' for market turmoil but vows to lead Tories …
Well, if she had been hiding under a desk for much of the day, at least the Prime Minister eventually emerged.
Sure, Liz Truss was nowhere to be seen in the immediate wake of her new chancellor’s televised demolition job on her entire economic vision but, at last, the lady did turn up on Monday afternoon to witness Jeremy Hunt deliver the final hammer blows.
And did she succeed? We’ll let you make your own judgement. But, to guide you along, we’ve highlighted some of the more excruciating aspects of the interview.
‘I’ve made a mistake’
On the one hand, we take our hat off to the PM for actually using the words “sorry” and showing signs of contrition during her Q&A with Mason.
However, when the interviewer questioned Truss on the trashing of her disastrous mini-budget in favour of the economic policies she used to deride, she responded: “I recognise that we did act too fast, and that’s why I’ve adjusted what we’re doing,” adding: “I do think it is the mark of an honest politician who does say ‘Yes, I’ve made a mistake. I’ve addressed that mistake.’”
When you’ve tanked the economy, had to sack your chancellor after little more than a month in office, and led businesses and families along with empty promises, it’s probably worth noting that you’ve made more than “a” single mistake.
In all fairness, she did at other points admit that “mistakes were made” but this is yet another favourite politician’s party trick: using the passive voice so you don’t have to outright say: “I’ve made a load of embarrassing f***-ups.”
‘I couldn’t deliver everything I wanted’
Asked whether the former former-Chancellor Rishi Sunak was “right all along” when he warned about the catastrophic implications of Truss’s fiscal and spending plans during the Tory leadership election, Truss insisted she had “delivered” at least some things for the British people.
“We’ve already reversed the national insurance increase, which is important for families. We’ve also delivered on the energy price guarantee,” she argued, before admitting: “Yes, Chris. I couldn’t deliver everything I wanted.”
But the presenter was quick to point out: “Well, not everything, I mean most of it’s been junked”, in reference to Hunt’s scrapping of almost all of her plans.
Mason then observed that the aforementioned energy price guarantee which had been her “crutch” since the start of her premiership had “shrivelled”, too, and “hadn’t survived contact with the new Chancellor”.
So yes, the PM hasn’t delivered even close to “everything” she’d wanted.
'Do you accept that you have made it worse?'
No one’s denying that the global economy is in turmoil and that Russia’s war in Ukraine is causing all kinds of issues, but you’ll be hard-pushed to find anyone who doesn’t think that the mini-budget plunged the UK’s finances into a whole new dimension of chaos.
Sure, Truss apologised for mistakes “being made”, but when you’re a politician –and particularly when you’re the Prime Minister, you never want to explicitly admit that your actions have made life harder for your electorate.
So when Mason asked whether she had made things “worse” for British families, making it harder for them to pay their bills, there was a particularly awkward pregnant pause.
She then finally came out with: “Well, first of all I have said sorry for the fact that we did act too far. We went too far and too fast.”
What she should remember is that listeners and viewers don’t want to receive apologies for a “fact” they want to receive apologies directly to them.
'What do you say to people who say that you are now a Prime Minister in name only?'
As speculation continues to mount as to when – not if – Truss will be booted out of office, this elephant-in-the-room question was always going to crop up.
But watching the PM’s reaction to it – a stony shadow cast across her face – you can see exactly how she felt about it.
“Can you convince our listener and viewer that you have credibility still as Prime Minister?”
When tackling a question like this, you want to be bold and defiant to show that you’re a powerful unassailable leader. Instead, Truss’s response unravelled from the stronger: “I want us to be a country that has higher growth, where people can benefit from more opportunities across the country” to a wishy-washy use of “we”.
“We did go too far and too fast,” she continued, “But we are delivering, you know.”
Liz, are you the sole Prime Minister or what?
'I will deliver the Conservatives into the next general election'
Even Truss seemed to find this statement funny, even as she was saying it.
After she made the defiant announcement, Mason asked simply: "Definitely?" This then prompted her to break out into gasps of laughter, saying: “Well, look, yeah. I’m not focused on internal debates within the Conservative Party.”
The problem is, as Mason pointed out, that she kind of needs to be focused on the machinations of her party if she wants to stay in office.
But she retorted: "The important thing is that I’ve been elected to this position to deliver for the country."
We would suggest she avoids using the word "elected" – it will only act as a reminder that she wasn't selected for the top job by the British people via a general election, but was chosen by a small number of Conservative Party members. And the reality of that still grates with much of the population.
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