Prime Minister hopeful Liz Truss will be judged by her resolution - Bernard Ingham

Why is it that the Conservative Party looks increasingly likely to make Liz Truss our new (and third woman) Prime Minister?

All this assumes that Boris Johnson is not daft enough to fall in with the campaign to get him on the final list of candidates to go to the membership.

That would guarantee another two years of internecine warfare.

I think the answer to my question lies in the feeling that Foreign Secretary Ms Truss is one of them – and steel-tipped with it.

Liz Truss. Pic: Getty.

She is an unlikely Tory PM given her hard-left family background, her youthful dalliance with the Liberal Democrats and her vote to remain in the European Union in 2016.

Nor is she yet charismatic but perhaps makes up for it with a sense of purpose and determination to change things for the better.

Rishi Sunak is dishy no more. This is partly because he precipitated Boris’s downfall by resigning as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Lord (Michael) Heseltine could have told him that he who wields the knife never wears the crown.

It may be that others have reservations about elevating a very rich man.

It might not look good in these egalitarian days.

But of the two finalists, he comes across as the Establishment man, cautious and unlikely, unless forced, to slash taxes and imposts to get the economy growing.

He is rightly concerned about the country’s debts after the £400bn hit from the pandemic and now the costs of helping to defend democracy under Russian siege in Ukraine.

But what has swung it for me – a chap brought up to pay his way and avoid debt, apart from a mortgage – is Ms Truss’s view that the repayment of debt and the closure of the yawning budget deficit has to phased over a longer period than seemed likely under Mr Sunak.

It is impossible to bring the UK economy back into balance in the two years to the next election.

That being so, she wants to offer some protection for the worst hit by inflation and go for growth.

In that way, I assume she argues, the Tories are more likely to win the next election and avert the disaster of a Labour government with moderates lashed into ever more largesse by the hard left.

Whether Ms Truss or Mr Sunak goes to No 10 in September is a gamble with the British economy.

So far – and there is a month to go – Ms Truss looks the better bet.

If I have one worry about her, it is her control over what she intends to do on entering No 10.

The list of promises grows ever longer with the hustings. She must avoid the Boris Johnson syndrome of promising heaven and earth.

In short, she must display from Day One a firmer grasp of realities than Mr Johnson ever did, even though a big election victory, Brexit, the pandemic and Ukraine have given him a highly respectable historical record.

Assuming she makes it, this is what I want to see from Liz Truss in her first week.

First, the carefully directed cuts in tax and other imposts she has promised to relieve those hardest hit by the cost of living crisis and promote growth.

This should be accompanied by a target for cutting the budget deficit every year so that there is some pressure on the Government to perform.

At the same time she should send a signal to all departments that she requires an immediate return to the office of all those civil servants working from home, with those refusing first in line for redundancy.

At the same time she should back up her plans for tighter rules on strike ballots with a clear warning to union leaders that if there is any more nonsense she will legislate to ban strikes in public services.

Let us also have a four more smacks of firm government:

1. With money tight, NHS administrative reform is required – it has got to work better for the people;

2. The education system has to teach, not indoctrinate – or offenders had better leave the profession;

3. Chief constables from this day had better get a grip on crime or lose their jobs;

4. The EU has six months to end its attempt to annex Northern Ireland, to treat us as an independent but friendly trading nation and remind France, in exporting immigrants, we never were in the EU’s Schengen agreement.

Ms Truss will be judged by her resolution.

She should begin as she means to go on.