Balmoral, the faux 19th century medieval castle the Scottish highlands which is one of the many royal homes in Britain, was in the global news twice this week.
First, on Tuesday, Liz Truss went there to meet Queen Elisabeth II. Then, on Friday, it was announced that the Queen had died in her favorite place after a long life of dedicated service to her nation.
The United Kingdom now has, within the same week, a new Prime Minister and a new King, Charles III. Together, they face the prospect of coping of a broken-down Dis-United Kingdom.
Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that Liz Truss is going to be presented with problems to take decisions on such as no prime minister has faced since Churchill took over as the German panzers were breaking through to arrive at the French coast in June 1940.
Just how well is the new prime minister equipped to cope with this challenge?
Liz´s ideological core: Self-promotion
Truss began life as a fiery left-winger urging the abolition of the monarchy. She entered the Commons as a staunch pro-European.
To be sure, she has moved to the right and now proclaims her anti-European credentials. In the campaign for the top post, she even went as far as saying when asked whether France and President Macron "is a friend or foe of Britain” that the "jury was out.”
True, it was a flippant remark made to right-wing ageing Tory Party activists. They hate Europe and are told by their newspapers (including the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and the key conservative weekly Spectator) that Macron is a mad European federalist who only seeks to down England.
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The faux-pas on France
Even so, her remark shocked diplomatic correspondents and ambassadors. For good reason, they think of France and Britain as allies since the Crimean war(!). Both countries share a history of fighting (and dying) to defend European democracy from Nazism.
They have combatted Islamist terrorism and are now both sending serious military aid to Ukraine to stop Russia’s attempt to conquer it and threaten Europe’s settled borders and democracy.
A country in decline
One wonders whether, with her attack on Macron, Liz Truss just wanted to deflect from the poor situation the UK is finding itself in.
While French inflation is at 5.6%, Britain’s inflation rate by Christmas is forecast to be over 20%. The pound sterling is now the weakest currency in the G7.
Fourteen million Britons live below the poverty line. Dentists who once came from European countries have been sent home. As a result, some areas of Britain have no dental care at all with elderly and poor people using pliers to pull out their teeth.
Cancer operations and other procedures are now delayed months if not years – a consequence of the Johnson government having cut the health budget. Schoolchildren reach age 11 unable to read or do simple sums.
Forget Global Britain
The British army has been cut to its lowest numbers since the 18th century. The new flagship aircraft carrier has to use U.S. planes as there are no suitable British warplanes. The carrier had been meant to be a powerful symbol of post-Brexit "Global Britain” on the world’s oceans. It has just broken down and its being towed back for repairs.
Railway workers, health care worker, postal workers, container port workers, McDonald´s and Amazon workers and even lawyers have gone on strike.
Police numbers have been cut to help reduce taxes paid by the wealthy. There is now rising crime and concern that police never turn out to investigate house break-ins and car thefts.
Brexit Britain is now the sick man of Europe
In short, Brexit Britain is now the sick man of Europe. Everyone seems to agree that Britain is broken.
Tory MPs removed their leader and prime minister Boris Johnson not just because he presided over this accelerating collapse of the British state and economy and geopolitical influence or because he repeatedly lied to the House of Commons. What´s more, they could feel in their bones they would lose their seats as MP.
The wrong movie?
To win the votes of the 165,000 Tory Party members (who have an average age of 70), Liz Truss has pledged support for every right-wing nostrum of the last 25 years.
That is not a big surprise considering they would be Trump MAGA supporters in the United States or tempted by Marine Le Pen in France.
Taxes will be cut, she says. The military budget will go up by 40%, she claims. The unions will be tamed. Asylum seekers who arrive in Britain will be deported for processing to Rwanda. And there will be massive campaign against "Woke” thinking, with the BBC in the firing line.
Meanwhile, the wishes of the extreme protestant Europhobe sectarians in Northern Ireland will be given priority – even if this means the end of the Good Friday Agreement. Plus, a trade war with the EU and a huge row with the U.S. Congress and pro-Dublin President Biden. In addition, the Scots will be told to become English.
Truss will lead a crusade for liberty and democracy against Russia and China. Brexit will be hardened up. European doctors and workers will be replaced by Nigerian and Pakistani immigrants – anyone other than Europeans.
The old medicine won´t work anymore
In the campaign to win the Tory nomination, Truss never mentioned that the 30-year era of cheap money, cheap energy, cheap foreign labor and China providing an endless supply of low-cost goods is now over.
Liz Truss’s incantation of the verities of Reagan-Thatcher economics of nearly half a century ago may please her ageing Tory "Make Britain Great Again” party members.
However, by Wednesday, it is no exaggeration to say that Liz Truss is going to be presented with problems to take decisions on such as no prime minister has faced since Churchill took over as the German panzers were breaking through to arrive at the French coast in June 1940.
Now, Liz Truss has shown in the past that she can change her political position with the wind. It is one thing to get elected (by the party) – and another to stay in power in the country.
However, the conventional political commentariat line on Truss is that she will be a prisoner of the Tory hard-right, Europe-hating ideologues associated with Boris Johnson and promoted by him to senior cabinet positions.
Truss now has a free hand, but…
Even so, she now has a free hand. Her only task is to keep her party in power. More than 60% of UK voters now say, for example, Brexit is a mistake. Alternatively, she can create more barriers to trade with Europe, but that will only make Britain poorer.
She can insist that she will not use the power of the state to take on energy firms´ CEOs and others of the super-rich capitalist class who drive their Teslas and Jaguars past food banks where the poor queue to get free food (but only if the free food does not require heating as they cannot afford to use cookers or even microwaves).
But the British people are unlikely to vote for a party and its prime minister who only looks after the rich and takes no action to create a national consensus that all must play a part and share sacrifices to get the nation through its biggest peacetime crisis in two centuries.
Truss faces a choice
So Prime Minister Truss faces a choice. Does she stick with right-wing policies of the last three Tory prime ministers – David Cameron (2010-15), Theresa May (2015-2019) and Boris Johnson (2019-2021)?
Will she thus confirm Brexit isolationism and ultra-liberal enrichissez-vous economics which will leave people hungry without medical care and unable to pay core utility bills?
That way, Truss will end up in the dustbin of history reserved for British prime ministers who fail miserably and spend a very short time in Downing Street.
Or does she revert to the Tory "one-nation” tradition of looking after, even on a paternalistic basis, those who don’t have the money to feed and eat at the same time? Can she opt for a more inclusive partnership United Kingdom along the lines of successful European states?
Conclusion: Labour´s moment?
Liz Truss is ambitious, determined and desperately needs to win the next election. But if she opts to be "Continuity Johnson,” Britain will soon have a different government.
For the first time in 15 years, the Labour Party has better ratings than the Tories for economic management. Traditionally, the party that has the best poll standing for economic management wins the election.
Denis MacShane: Former UK Minister for Europe under Tony Blair and a Contributing Editor to The Globalist, www.theglobalist.com , where this article first appeared.