And the winner is … the lettuce!

British prime minister Liz Truss resigned today, ending the constant speculation about how long she would last. On October 10th, a tabloid newspaper The Daily Star started running a live stream of a head of lettuce named Lizzie Lettuce with a blond wig above the question, “Will Liz Truss still be Prime Minister within the 10 day shelf-life of a lettuce?”. As it turns out, the contest was not even close, with the lettuce winning at a trot, with Truss having the dubious record of possibly being the shortest serving prime minister who did not die in office, just 45 days.

I must say that while I had been amazed at how quickly Truss had thoroughly botched things up since taking over as prime minister, and expected that she would not last long, her resignation today did surprise me. She had given a pretty vigorous defense in the weekly PMQ session yesterday, defiantly declaring “I am a fighter, not a quitter!” which I thought meant that she was going to try and salvage her premiership.

So what happened in less than 24 hours? The resignation/firing (it is not quite sure which) of her home secretary Suella Braverman yesterday was before the PMQ session so could not have been the immediate cause. Braverman has the record having the shortest tenure in that office. It is possible that Kwasi Kwerteng, whom Truss fired as Chancellor of the Exchequer, may also have the record for the shortest term in that office. Unwanted records everywhere.

I suspect that something went down behind the scenes yesterday evening that led to her decision to quit. That information will undoubtedly emerge soon. The fact that she announced that a process had been put in place so that a new leader would take over from her on October 28th means that party leaders had been part of the decision, which likely means that they had pressured her to go, seeing her position as untenable. Under the new rules, any nominations must be received by 2:00 pm on Monday, October 24th and have the support of at least 100 MPs, which limits the number of candidates to at most three. Voting will begin that same day and the process will be completed by Friday, October 28th.

Whoever takes over has the unenviable and challenging task of trying to recover the fortunes of the party, currently trailing by a whopping 30 points in the polls behind the Labour party, before having to call general election in just over two years, unless they call for an early election. Becoming. party leader and prime minister at such a time is to receive very much a poisoned chalice since if the party crashes and burns at the next election, that leader may well have to go too.

So why would anyone with serious intentions of implementing policies want to take the job, given that the next two years will largely be devoted to repairing and damage control and treading water? Politicians tend to be ambitious and arrogant about their ability to control events and there may well be people who think that they can pull off a miraculous return from the dead.

While the proximate cause of this debacle is undoubtedly Truss herself in her over-weening ambition to implement a massive ideologically driven trickle-down budget with little or no analysis of the consequences and thus creating havoc in the financial markets, the ultimate cause may well be Brexit. Ever since that ill-thought out plan was implemented, the country has been mired in problems. I am not saying that it is the only cause but it does seem to have created a tangle of problems that the government could never quite extricate itself from. The former Brexit EU negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted:

It is astonishing that Boris Johnson, the chief architect of the Brexit fiasco, is favored by a plurality of Conservative party members (not MPs) to replace Truss, just weeks after being forced from office in disgrace.

Johnson, narcissist that he is, thinks that the country is crying out for him to return and seems to be wanting to enter the race. Brexit should be a millstone around Boris Johnsons’s neck that which he should never be allowed to remove. The decision to have only the MPs be involved in the selection of the new party leader is being viewed as the party leaders making sure that Johnson does not get the post again, since he does not seem to have the support of 100 MPs.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    I believe I said in these very comment threads just a few days ago -- never write that fucker off. I also said that the parliamentary party would not this time, and quite possibly never again, be so stupid as to allow their members to vote on a leader, given how benightedly dreadful their decision was last time.

    Truss is comfortably the shortest serving PM ever. George Canning was removed from the office of PM by tuberculosis after four months. If you deduct the first dozen or so days from Truss’s tenure that were spent doing practically nothing due to the death of the Queen, she’s only really been doing Prime Ministering for a single month. As I also said before -- the scale of her achievement in incompetence is staggering. Furthermore, the resignation speech -- in which she clearly stated that she was stepping down because she couldn’t deliver what she’d promised, obviously blaming everyone but herself for this state of affairs -- was retch-inducing.

    And so now, having reached the bottom of the barrel with May, scraped the sediment off the bottom of the barrel with Boris, and bored right through the bottom of the barrel with Truss, we can only speculate on the literal heap of human shit that will be shoveled in through the revolving door of No. 10 next week.

    Check this out: (note: this video is from BEFORE the resignation.)

    In particular, look at the bloke six minutes in. He’s a conservative -- he’s using the words “shambles and disgrace” to describe HIS OWN SIDE, and I actually started to feel sorry for him. He comes across like someone who thought he had a grown up job doing grown up things, and he’s come in to work and found his boss, his boss’s boss and the head of the company eating crayons and throwing shit at the walls. It’s absolutely incredible.

  2. xohjoh2n says


    I’m just thinking of the election of the Pirate King from At World’s End. (Though that may well be more orderly and dignified than the current tories can manage.)

  3. sonofrojblake says

    Bozo the Clown returning to office will guarantee a massive Labour victory next elections

    Anyone else taking the job will guarantee an even more massive Labour victory. People like Johnson. You can bitch and moan about them being stupid for doing so -- and believe me I do -- but it’s an incontrovertible fact. Whereas basically every single other Tory MP is that kid from school that everyone hated, who’s grown up with a chip on their shoulder and a determination to have their revenge.

    I wonder what will happen if no one gets 100 supporters for a nomination.

    That’s the sort of thing a party of the Left would do -- something stupid and massively self-sabotaging. Whatever else you say about the Right -- racist, evil, corrupt, self-serving scum that they are -- you have to admit they know how to come together to make sure they hold onto power. They’re NOT stupid, not like most career Lefties are.

    BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning stated that several Tory insider sources were suggesting Johnson might attract as many as 140 nominations. It also pointed out that if he does win, quite a few of his colleagues will step down as MPs. Note that that is a BIG DEAL. It’s not “I resign as Home Secretary (but retain my generous MP’s salary)” style posturing. It’s “I f**king QUIT, AND now you have to find someone else to do my job AND have a by-election with the risk of my job going to the other side.” And it’s not just one or two Tories threatening that. The public like Johnson -- but people who know him, who’ve had to work for or with him -- those people in the main hate him. Not just dislike, either -- actual “I’m quitting my lucrative and prestigious job to avoid having to deal with him” hate.

    What a time to be alive.

  4. cartomancer says

    I think it is similarly short-sighted to trace the problems and horrors we are facing now only as far back as Brexit in 2016. The Tories were wrecking the British economy as soon as they came to power in 2010 with their disastrous “austerity” programme (a nasty euphemism for making the poor suffer all the consequences of an economic instability they didn’t cause with the aim of keeping them poor, making more people poor, and preventing the growth of a comfortable middle class that threatens the hierarchical inequalities that benefit the very rich).

    Of course, you can trace it further still. Thatcher put the country on this path 44 years ago, and Blair and Brown cooperated in perpetuating her miserable neoliberal ideology, albeit in a less severe form.

    On a purely personal level, one of the most frustrating things is the complete lack of joy I am able to take in delivering all the “I told you so”s. And I normally love delivering those. But it’s hard to take joy in the collapse and floundering of one’s class enemies when those enemies have taken everything with them, caused massive suffering that will take decades to fix, and will on an individual level suffer no economic consequences themselves.

    The only hope I can take from this is that, finally, it will convince the vast majority of people in this country who have thought of voting Tory as an acceptable thing to do to reconsider and realise what an evil bunch the party of establishment vested interests are. I don’t hold out much hope on that score, though, because it was obvious to me by the time I was old enough to vote, and if Thatcher, Cameron, Osborne and Boris Johnson didn’t open people’s eyes to the rot then why should what is happening now -- just more of the same.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    I think you’re being slightly harsh. (Can’t believe I’m about to do this, but…)

    The British economy was buggered in 2008 by the credit crunch. That was not the Tories’ fault. It certainly wasn’t Gordon Brown’s fault, but they spun it as if it was. It really wasn’t anyone in the UK’s fault, per se, it was mainly the US that was the problem, but when the US sneezes, the world gets syphilis.

    So there was, I think, some justification for battening down the hatches in 2010, especially as they sought to differentiate themselves from what went before. Any responsible government would have done the same. But a responsible government would have kept that up for one or two years… not ten or twelve.

    The only hope I can take from this is that, finally, it will convince the vast majority of people in this country who have thought of voting Tory as an acceptable thing to do to reconsider

    Don’t bet on it. I’ve met some members of the UK voting public. They’re fucking stupid. They vote based on the most ludicrous, irrelevant issues. They vote based on what Hitler’s favourite newspaper tells them. More and more, I don’t like walking around in public, because I know that probably half the people I see (maybe more, I live in quite a nice place, not some Labour-voting inner city or anything) vote Tory… and I therefore hold them in deep contempt. In some ways I think it must be like being an atheist in the Bible belt, being an intelligent, attention-paying progressive in a country that votes Tory all the time.

  6. says

    If the Tories bring back BoJo, it will be a loud, clear and stark admission that they’re utterly incapable of doing any better or improving themselves in any way. And it will also ensure that BoJo will be able to be as stupid, evil, uncaring, corrupt and incompetent as he wants, and there will never be any serious attempt, or even serious talk, of removing him again. They’d already tried that, and failed in such a way as to thoroughly discredit the whole idea. From that day forward, he will know the Tories CANNOT get rid of him, or do without him in any way; and he’ll be PM pretty much for life.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    Sometimes the system works.
    Bannon gets four months in prison.

  8. sonofrojblake says

    he’ll be PM pretty much for life

    I fear you may be right. Then again… my opinion of the electorate is pretty low right now, but can they really be so thick as to put Johnson back in in 2025? I mean, a week is a long time in politics -- and on Wednedsday of this week I’d have revised that to “an hour is a long time in politics” -- but there’s no realistic way Johnson can turn the Tories’ reputation (to say nothing of his own) round in the next two years. And to a certain extent, I can’t see why he’d bother. He’s 58 now. If he’s leader next Friday, he’s leader until he’s 61 AT LEAST, I think, but the main thing is, he’ll have made his point. He’ll have had, technically, two terms as Prime Minister. I can see him being content to retire to spend more time with his money, sorry, his family families. By 2025, he’s pretty much got the t-shirt. He’s very clearly uninterested in actually governing, he’s only interested in being shown to be in charge and to be right -- and if he’s made leader next week, he definitely will have done that. Time to go back to better paid jobs by then, like his newspaper columns and after-dinner speaking and hunting proles from dragon-back (hang on, forgot for a moment there that his surname isn’t Targaryen, it’s the hair I think).

  9. sonofrojblake says

    @birgerjohannson, 10:

    Sometimes the system works.
    Bannon gets four months in prison.

    Oh yeah? And when does that sentence start, exactly? The system is working like it usually does -- “the judge said he would stay the sentence pending an appeal by Bannon, as long as the legal paperwork is filed promptly”. Sure. Call me back when he’s actually IN a cell.

  10. sonofrojblake says

    If the Tories bring back BoJo, it will be a loud, clear and stark admission that they’re utterly incapable of doing any better

    Sorry, that sentence came back at me.

    The loud, clear and stark admission that they’re utterly incapable of doing better than Johnson WAS TRUSS’S ENTIRE TIME IN OFFICE. We’re far past the bottom of the barrel here, people.

  11. Dunc says

    We’re far past the bottom of the barrel here, people.

    Why do you think they’re so big on fracking? They’re not just past the bottom of the barrel, they’ve reached the limits of conventional drilling.

  12. says

    Oh come on, sonofrojblake, Targaryens have FAR better hair than BoJo. Even post-zombie-war Denarys did better with that ridiculous mess of asymmetrical braids!

  13. sonofrojblake says

    Not all of them. Johnson looks like one of those kids in the fighting pits fathered to a whore by Aegon. Targaryen hair, but a mess and a bastard to boot -- how much more like johnson could you get?

  14. says

    Which kid? The one cowering and crying in a corner until all the other kids kill each other, at which point he steps out alone and says he beat all of them?

  15. KG says

    Truss is comfortably the shortest serving PM ever. George Canning was removed from the office of PM by tuberculosis after four months. -- sonofrojblake@2

    The Duke of Wellington’s second spell as “First Lord of the Treasury” (still part of the PM’s official title, which “Prime Minister” wasn’t until the early 20th century) in November-December 1834 lasted just 23 days, but he had had a previous spell of 2 years 299 days, and he was just filling in until Robert Peel got back from Italy, so a lot of sources don’t count him. The linked article lists a couple of even shorter “disputed” terms.

  16. KG says

    It begins to look likely Johnson can’t get 100 Tory MPs to nominate him, although that could change when the ERG (European Research Group -- ultra-Brexiteer swivel-eyed loon MPs) meets on Monday. At present, Rishi “eat out to kill granny” Sunak, runner-up last time, is way ahead in declared nominations, so it looks as though we could get our first non-white PM.

  17. sonofrojblake says

    our first non-white PM.

    That depends on how prickly-SJW your definition of “white” is this week. For most of 1868 and again from 1874-1880 our PM was a Jew. (And for the tinfoil-hat-conspiracy-theorist-anti-Semites (I’m looking at YOU, Jeremy Corbyn), per Wikipedia that Jew “played a central role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party”, so y’know, ALL THEIR FAULT wake up sheeple etc. etc. ad nauseam).

    More significantly I think, we could get our first billionaire PM(‘s wife).

    I’m reminded of Stewart Lee’s assertion that Theresa May was palate cleanser PM, a foul smelling liquid that you swill around your gums before being forced to eat actual human shit. Funny at the time, now seems actually mild compared to what happened.

  18. KG says

    That depends on how prickly-SJW your definition of “white” is this week. -- sonofrojblake@20

    No, it really doesn’t. You do come out with the most ridiculous tosh. Of course, “races” are social categories with a partial phenotypic basis, and Victorian concepts of “race” were rather different from ours, giving less prominence to skin colour, and dividing Europeans into different “races”, so the Irish, the “Anglo-Saxons”, the French, as well as the Jews, could all be referred to as races.

    Disraeli was a Jew (by ethnic origin, he was a baptised Anglican). Disraeli was white, by any but the most eccentric modern classificatory schema (such as those of some neo_Nazis). He was himself proudly racist, as were almost all his European contemporaries, and made a great fuss about the supposedly superior qualities of the “Jewish race”.

    I’ve no idea why you think a “prickly-SJW” classification might make Disraeli non-white. Incidentally, I used that term, rather than “POC” or similar, because that’s how the possibility of Sunak becoming PM is reported in most of the UK media, and how most people in the country would probably think of it. If Michael Howard (a Jewish former leader of the Conservatives) had won the 2005 election and become PM, almost no-one in the UK would have said we had a non-white Prime Minister.

  19. KG says

    Sorry, I gave up when it went back to ads partway through. But in any case, it was clearly an American item, completely irrelevant to the UK, where I doubt if one person in 10,000 who knew about Disraeli at all (hardly a household name these days) or were shown a picture of him if they didn’t know of him, would say he was non-white. Sonofrojblake is just drivelling, as he often does.

  20. sonofrojblake says

    “races” are social categories …Victorian concepts of “race” were rather different from ours

    Well, yes. Duh. If your contention is that “Jew” doesn’t count as an other-than-White-British ethnic minority in the UK, you’re simply wrong (and presumably haven’t applied for a job, passport, credit card or any kind of state benefit in this country in the last twenty years, and faced a form asking your ethnic identity, where “White” and “Jewish” are separate categories).

    And if you’re wondering where I first came across the “prickly SJW definition of white/non-white”, when my university appointed its first ethnic minorities officer in the 90s, they were forced to accept that, for those purposes, Jewish people were NOT “white”, by the definition they were using that week. (I might add, for maximum ridiculousness, that they also had to concede that Irish people counted as “non-white”, although Scottish people, bafflingly, didn’t). It’s far from a new conversation.

    While we’re at it -- if Ed Milliband had won in 2015, he’d have been our 2nd Jewish PM too, and he’s as white as the ace of Tippex. In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m using the phrase “prickly SJW definition” to make clear I regard thinking of Jewish MPs as non-white as ridiculous as you clearly do.

  21. sonofrojblake says

    To be clear: my point in post 20 was that by any reasonable definition, Sunak will, if he can beat Johnson, be our first non-white PM…. but not all definitions of “non-white” are reasonable. That’s all.

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