It’s time to enter the workroom, gather around Mother and imagine a far off parallel universe where, instead of a British political embarrassment, Liz Truss’ fall from power was simply a high stakes, ultra dramatic, and overwhelmingly juicy series of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I can see it now—cabinet members lip-syncing against one another in five-inch heels while Michelle Visage sits behind the judges’ panel sporting a bright pink leopard print corset.
I think we can all agree that the sheer hectic nature of our former Prime Minister’s government calls for some immediate analysis and attention. However, because I’m not basic, instead of attempting to insert myself within rather tedious, repetitive, and often contentious political dialogue, I thought it would be far more entertaining (and hopefully insightful) to consider Truss’ major flop the best way I know: through the lens of my favourite form of escapism—a show so flamboyant, that it makes British national treasure Graham Norton appear like a character out of Eastenders.
So, everyone, prepare yourselves for a hefty dose of irony and a sprinkle of sarcasm as we look back on Liz Truss’ short-lived 45 days in office.
For all my Drag Race fans out there, we know the significance of an entrance’s opening line. Once you’ve strutted into the workroom—or in this case, 10 Downing Street—your initial greeting and approach will undoubtedly help solidify your place among both the other girls (cabinet members) and the audience (the British public, duh).
For example, when legendary queen Morgan McMichaels fluffed up her hair, turned to face the camera, and stated: “I look pretty good for a dead bitch,” we knew she meant business. Similarly, if Truss had chosen to enter No 10 hidden in an oversized box the unmistakable blue colour of Tiffany & Co.—as Shangela did in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 (the drag championship of champions)—things would have probably turned out differently.
Alas, our former PM picked a rather different approach, choosing instead to deliver a whopping amount of praise onto preceding loser Boris Johnson, marking his historic time in office as “hugely consequential.” Weird flex, but okay.
Considering Johnson’s overwhelming disappointment and destruction as Prime Minister, it was definitely a bold move for Truss to speak so highly of BoJo. From COVID-19 lockdown nightmares to performative diversity within his cabinet, I think it’s pretty evident this former clown-in-chief would not have won Miss Congeniality.
From Kwasi Kwarteng to Suella Braverman, Truss faced a multitude of challenges during her stint in office. Most apparent was her inability to maintain a cohesive cabinet, and when you consider the fact that she only served as PM for a mere 45 days, this harsh reality becomes quite frightening in relation to the future and prosperity of our country’s democracy.
Now, if we reimagine this car crash as simply contestants exiting the competition after failing a sewing challenge—things become slightly less traumatising. Well, kind of…
Let’s take Kwarteng, for example. The former chancellor was fired by Truss primarily due to his mini-budget—wherein he proposed $45 billion in unfunded tax cuts—which resulted in “a record low against the dollar, sent the cost of government borrowing and mortgage rates up and led to an unprecedented intervention by the Bank of England,” as reported by Sky News.
You know the moment when Ru asks all of the contestants on stage which queen should be sent home? Well, this is what I picture when considering Truss sacking her close friend and colleague. Naturally, in my imagination, they’re standing under a glowing spotlight, their foreheads beaded with sweat, and they’re asked that daunting question: “Who should go home?”
Now, I personally don’t believe neither Truss nor Kwarteng have ‘Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve or Talent’. However, I do know how ruthless these games can be, and so, it was only a matter of time before contestants began to drop like flies and frontrunners started revealing their claws.
Unfortunately for Truss, she was none the wiser that it would be her time to bid adieu only five days later.
Do you remember the intensity at which media pundits across the UK debated whether it would be Rishi Sunak or Truss that would clinch the Prime Ministerial role back in September? Imagine how much easier it would have been had the two candidates simply been forced to compete in one ultimate lip sync battle.
Even more importantly, the results would have been far fairer as a panel of clued in and freshly-manicured gen Z judges would have either concurred on who was the most fabulous winner, or—if they couldn’t agree—both contenders would simply be asked to “sashay away” and Mother Ru herself would have clinched the crown. That way everyone wins?
If these two political opponents had faced off in a lip sync extravaganza, what do you think the song choice would be? Would they be doing death drops to Britney Spears’ ‘Stronger’, or would their wig-reveals demand a slightly more seductive track? I’m thinking of perhaps an ode to the iconic moment when Roxxy Andrews and Alyssa Edwards performed high art during a powerhouse rendition of Rhianna’s timeless ‘Shut up and Drive’.
As The Independent recently discovered, the former chancellor of the exchequer has been known to favour Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’ while our most recent PM has often referred to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’. Either way, I think we can all agree that both politicians would most likely end up pulling a Valentina mask moment. “I’d like to keep it on please.”
Nevertheless, Sunak emerged victorious and the millionaire MP has now officially been sworn in as the UK’s most recent Prime Minister—we’re currently sporting a Guiness World Record of three leaders in three months, by the way. So, it’s sure to be an even messier season than the last.
Stay tuned for the likes of: The Real Housewives of Downing Street, Love is Blind: MP edition and Keeping up with the Sunaks.
So, there you have it. Rishi Sunak is the third Prime Minister in 2022. The third since September 2022, in fact. He becomes the first non-white PM in the history of the United Kingdom, as well as the richest ever, with Sunak and his wife’s combined net worth listed as £730 million. Personally, I’m suspicious of anyone that rich—why not just retire to a life of luxury?
Earlier this year—what feels like a lifetime ago—Sunak lost to Liz Truss during the previous Tory leadership contest, gaining the support of more MPs but only 42.6 per cent of the members’ votes. Now, he’s secured the top job after Truss’ economic plan proved irredeemably disastrous. If Sunak had simply won the first time round, perhaps we’d have avoided six weeks of uncertainty and chaos, and still be in roughly the same position as we are now. It feels a bit like a fever dream already.
Second time around, he secured the gig by default: Penny Mordaunt, incumbent Leader of the House of Commons who also ran in July, dropped out on Monday 24 October. Whether or not Sunak has a democratic mandate to run the country is debatable, given that we have a parliamentary democracy and the Conservatives were elected with a large majority in 2019. But Truss reneged on various manifesto promises and, based on previous campaign promises, Sunak might do the same. Although it’s too soon to tell, if history repeats itself—which it often does—we’re surely in for a tumultuous ride.
Boris Johnson—the disgraced former PM who flew back from the Caribbean to court his fellow MPs—announced on Sunday 23 October that he would not formally be joining the race, despite allegedly having secured the necessary support. It should be noted that he never once proved this fact. Two nonconsecutive terms as Prime Minister would be unusual but isn’t unprecedented. In fact, Johnson’s hero, Winston Churchill, did just that—first during World War II and again in the early 1950s.
However, Johnson is still facing an investigation from the Privileges Committee as to whether or not he intentionally misled the parliament over Partygate. If found to have done so, he may be required to stand down as an MP. Had he joined the race and won—he’s significantly more popular among Tory party members than either Truss or Sunak—he may have been out again before Christmas. I was quietly hoping this would be how things panned out: it would be an utter disaster for the Tories and they would have no choice but to call a general election. Sadly, no such luck.
Sunak gave a wooden speech soon after winning the job. “There is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge,” he said. “We now need stability and unity. And I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together. Because that is the only way we will overcome the challenges we face and build a better, more prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren.” What does this mean exactly? Who knows. At this stage, it feels like party leader Mad Libs.
It would be nice to know how he plans to bring both his party and the country together, during a period of turmoil that threatens the long-term stability of both.
The Prime Minister concluded: “I pledge that I will serve you with integrity and humility, and I will work day in, day out, to deliver for the British people.” Given that Sunak was also implicated in Partygate, which helped to bring Johnson down, his integrity is questionable. His eventual resignation signaled the beginning of the end for Johnson’s premiership and many Johnson loyalists still don’t trust him—so how this plays out could be interesting, to say the least.
Sunak’s first appointments were thoroughly disappointing. Suella Braverman returns as Home Secretary less than a week after resigning the post for breaking ministerial code—so much for “integrity.” James Cleverly remains as Foreign Secretary and Michael Gove is back in the cabinet, after being fired by Johnson a few months ago. The only silver lining is that, after a couple of years in genuinely important positions, Jacob Rees Mogg is no longer in cabinet and returns to the back benches where, hopefully, his influence will be limited.
So, will Sunak last? It’s impossible to know. His fiscal policy is likely to be harsh, but less experimental than his predecessor’s. The parliamentary Tory party needs to present a united front. If they cannot get behind the new PM, a general election is a necessity. The majority party should be able to pass the government’s legislation.
Lately, many Tory MPs have been divisively ideological rather than pragmatic, but the threat of an electoral wipeout might mean that they begin to compromise. Current polling puts the party at an all-time low in terms of electoral popularity—some models give them less than twenty seats were a general election to be held today, with Labour taking an unprecedented super majority and the Scottish National Party (SNP) sitting as opposition.
The next important event is Monday 31 October’s fiscal statement from Jeremy Hunt, assuming he isn’t suddenly removed as Chancellor. This will lay out what’s to come over the winter, in terms of spending cuts and support for the vulnerable—as well as what to expect from Sunak’s premiership in general.