Harry Cole and James Heale join Atalanta for breakfast briefing
25 January 2023 · 2 min read
This month, Atalanta was delighted to host The Sun’s Political Editor, Harry Cole, and The Spectator’s Diary Editor, James Heale, for an exclusive breakfast briefing on their new book, Out of the Blue: The inside story of the unexpected rise and rapid fall of Liz Truss.
As two of the most respected journalists in Westminster, Harry and James’ book has unrivalled access and insight from Truss’ friends and shares the gripping behind-the-scenes story of a career politician fighting for radical change.
With an unenviable record as the UK’s shortest-serving Prime Minister in history—a mere 49 days in office—Harry and James reflected on how the infamous September 2022 mini-budget and the PM’s pledge to lift the ban on fracking in England ultimately led to the former PM’s downfall. Described as trying to cram five years of economic policy into one announcement, the mini-budget’s domino effect—which led to the sacking of her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and a subsequent U-turn on tax cuts—left Truss’ government without credibility.
Alongside failures, the session also explored successes from Truss’ decade-long ministerial career. At the Foreign Office, the authors reflected on how Truss received widespread praise for declassifying intelligence in the lead-up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Similarly, in International Trade, Truss’ popularity soared with the Tory membership as she signed trade deals with countries including New Zealand and Australia.
Famed for her love of social media, James joked that while Churchill loved his wireless, Truss loves her Instagram account. The book shares great anecdotes of Truss’ passion for the perfect photo, including at Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing, where the then-International Trade Secretary walked through heavy traffic for over an hour in pursuit of an iconic social media shot. Similar requests to officials to find and park a Mini Cooper under the Brooklyn Bridge—for Instagram—highlight a politician looking to master digital comms.
Reflecting on the current Prime Minister, Harry and James described Rishi Sunak as a direct reaction to Liz Truss, a leader focused on stability, avoiding controversy, and keeping the party together. However, it’s clear that while Truss is out of office, her economic ideas—often dubbed “Trussonomics”—are still popular among Tory members. While Truss may be out of the headlines, it’s clear that the ideas and values that drove her brief administration will continue to destabilise UK politics moving forward.
Thank you to Harry, James, and our guests for joining us. If you are interested in attending future events, please email [email protected]. If you would like a copy of Harry and James’ book, it can be ordered here.