More than six years ago, says Matthew Parris in The Times, I wrote about the “absurd idea” that Boris Johnson was fit to be PM. At the time, many journalists and politicians agreed. But as Johnson clawed his way towards No 10, people seemed to warm to him. “If Destiny is taking someone or something seriously,” the reasoning went, “then Destiny might be right.” Johnson’s critics ended up singing his praises; some even served in his Cabinet. But contrary to the conventional wisdom that emerged, there really was nothing more to the man “than surface charm, froth and bubble”.
In politics, first impressions are usually right. Margaret Thatcher “turned out to be exactly what she at first seemed, for good or ill”. There were no hidden depths beneath Donald Trump’s unhinged egomania. And yet, with Liz Truss on the brink of becoming PM, people are thinking twice about her, too. Perhaps, they say, there’s “more to her than meets the eye”? Perhaps she’s a resolute, steely strategist with a “Trumpian eye for connecting with voters”? I’m afraid this is wishful thinking. As I and many others judged when she first came to prominence, Truss “is a planet-sized mass of overconfidence and ambition teetering upon a pinhead of a political brain”. Ignore the “whispers of precaution”. Trust your instincts. She’s going to be a disaster.