"It was my performance alone that completely and utterly destroyed her political career," writes Lycett. Photo: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy

Liz Truss: my part in her downfall

I single-handedly brought down the Truss government. Here’s how I did it
March 1, 2023

After a long and intense period of reflection our (former) great leader Liz Truss has returned to public life to edify us with an overflowing cup of her percolations. Personally, I was excited to hear her finally acknowledge the harsh truth about the end of her premiership. At time of writing, she has not.

For the truth is that I, but a young lad from the streets of Birmingham, planted a fertile seed on the eve of her ascent that germinated quickly and devastatingly. Within weeks we were all within the wreckage. Some will tell you that it was her own blind ambition, her refusal to consult experts, or powerful market forces that ended her. No, reader, it was me, light entertainment comedian Joe Lycett, who slayed the beast, with a last-minute decision to be sarcastic on a television programme I was appearing on to sell tickets for a standup tour.

Of my accomplishments, which are scattered and largely unimpressive, the toppling of a British prime minister is up there (alongside a few Bafta noms and meeting Jeremy Beadle). While my time in her orbit was brief, I am nonetheless an essential footnote to Liz Truss, an imp in her biography, a thumbnail of grit in her decommissioned machine. I said, when asked about my thoughts on her performance in an interview with Laura Kuenssberg, “I’m very right wing and I loved it.” Suddenly it was over. A rat-a-tat-tat of searing wit and she was toast.

Some said my performance was childish, “shallow and vacuous”. It’s easy to be shallow in the baby pool. Esteemed political producers questioned the wisdom of inviting irritating dickheads on serious news programmes—a question many have been asking for years. I accept all the criticisms. But I also expect the critics to concede that it was my performance alone that completely and utterly destroyed her political career.

After the bloodbath I was invited for what was described as a “brunch”. It was held in the depths of Broadcasting House, in a space reminiscent of a school canteen, with jolly staff and a stainless steel track so you could slide your tray along the service hatch in a pleasing fashion. On the way there I had to get into a lift, which I walked to with Labour MP Emily Thornberry. A lift appeared and I stepped inside, but Thornberry saw who else was in there and wisely waited for the next one. I later learned I was falling into the ground with Richard Sharp, the BBC chairman (at the time of writing, lol!!), whom I had never heard of, but then I am not capable of arranging loans for financially struggling prime ministers. He said something unmemorable to me and we got out. I didn’t have a clue who he was, but if you’d have said to me, “Draw me a picture of someone that donated £400,000 to the Tory party” I would’ve drawn him. Good luck to the bugger!

The brunch was attended by all the big hitters: Kuenssberg, Sunak, Thornberry, Sharp, Lycett and various others from the show. No sign of Truss, who would win the race to become PM within 24 hours. I thought it likely she wasn’t in attendance due to the BBC canteen not serving the organs of domestic dogs. There was a convivial atmosphere, presumably because the attendees hadn’t fully understood the gravity of what I had done. “He’s just a strange little queer lad eating his porridge,” they must’ve thought, unable to comprehend that I had just Guy Fawkes’d the whole political establishment in under three minutes of airtime.

Less than two months later Truss was gone, engineered by yours truly. Memes did the rounds; one that particularly delighted me showed a man pushing a small domino with “I’m very right wing and I loved it” on it, ending with a much larger domino etched with “the total collapse of the UK government”. Everyone was in agreement: I had eradicated a British prime minister… and all on my own!

Imagine, for a ghastly moment, a world without me. My seat on the Kuenssberg show would’ve been occupied by Fraser Nelson from the Spectator, or another comedian of my calibre, perhaps Timmy Mallett. While I am a loyal fan of both, neither would’ve conducted such a masterclass in biting satire. Neither would’ve torpedoed the political establishment as I, Joe Lycett, did, by saying Truss was “the backwash” of the Tory party. She would’ve come away looking like a true stateswoman. The front pages would’ve run with “Truss Is The Best Prime Minister in 100 Years” rather than what they actually printed, which was “Now BBC Comic Mocks Liz Truss” (Daily Mail front page, 5th September 2022). It was only I, through satire, who was able to show the public, who as we all know are thick as mince, that she was unfit for the job. Thank God for me.

Serious debate shows are clamouring to have me back. I’ve been offered the role of Question Time’s first regular panellist, appearing on every episode. I said no. The director general called to personally offer that I replace Huw Edwards. “I am not promoting an arena tour,” I said, “thank you Tim, but goodbye.” Political panels will have to continue without me, populated with the familiar arse lickers and suck ups, loudmouths and well-connected tossers, the rich and the powerful, the shape shifters and the pen pushers, the haves and the have mores. They can’t get me, Joe Lycett, because I am too good and too busy. What a pity that they’ll never again hear from the most astute and bright and brilliant political commentator this great nation has ever seen.