Liz Truss Is Just the Latest Failed Leader Exploiting America

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

Call them the FLEAS: Failed Leaders Exploiting America.

Much like the third-tier expat British bankers in Hong Kong once known as the FILTH (Failed in London, Try Hong Kong), a steady stream of disgraced British politicians are now beating a path across the Atlantic, reinventing themselves as political seers with the aid of a flattering chyron and a cut-glass British accent.

Take, for example, the latest of these arrivals, Liz Truss, the “former British Prime Minister” now flogging her book, Ten Years to Save the West, which she has not always managed to hold the right way up when she appears on TV, to the right-wing blogosphere on an American speaking tour.

Here’s the thing: To a British person, calling Truss a “former British Prime Minister” is a bit like calling David Berkowitz a former postal worker. Truss is the single most-ridiculed PM in British history; she was parachuted into the job of PM by her party without winning an election and ruled for just 49 days before her party evicted her from 10 Downing Street after a disastrous fiscal policy led to the economy cratering and soaring mortage rates with fixed rates hitting an eye-watering 9 percent.

She is also famous for being the last prime minister invited to form a government by Queen Elizabeth II. The late queen left her with the famous last words, “Pace yourself.”

Truss writes in her book: “Maybe I should have listened.”


Former Prime Minister David Cameron was another leader who screwed up his reputation so badly at home that—for a while—his biggest responsibility, The Daily Beast was told, was running the barbecue at his local pony club.

Despite calling and then losing the Brexit referendum, he was welcomed with open arms on America’s celebrity speaker circuit. To be fair, the suave Old Etonian did at least lead the country for six years before resigning and walking off stage while humming a show tune—unfortunately caught on a hot mic.

He became a hate figure in the U.K., but overseas, particularly in the U.S., they couldn’t get enough of him. He was a star speaker at corporate events and made $1 million in 2019 alone. He has since returned to the U.K. government as foreign secretary, stopping over in America recently to chastise lawmakers for inadequate funding of the war in Ukraine.

His successor, Theresa May, who left office under a cloud and would have been booed if she had made any public appearances in the U.K., took home over half a million dollars in December 2019 alone, largely from American markets.

The list goes on: David Miliband, failed candidate for the Labour Party leadership, for example, is now head of the International Rescue Committee, headquartered in New York, where his salary is reportedly over $1 million a year

Boris Johnson, who got booted out of office after it was revealed he broke the very COVID laws his government had introduced, disclosed in 2023 that he had accepted $3 million as an advance payment for future speaking engagements arranged via the Harry Walker Agency in New York.

That’s confidence, but it’s fair to say that no second-rate British politician has been quite as successful at turning post-leadership disgrace into long-term financial triumph as Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister and leader of Britain’s third party, the Liberal Democrats. Under his leadership, the party was almost wiped out electorally in the 2015 elections, going from 57 seats to 8 seats in Parliament. Clegg lost his own seat in 2017, but was swiftly signed up by Facebook—and is now reportedly paid as much as $18 million a year as Meta’s president of global affairs.

As one observer wryly noted: “David Cameron’s favorite joke? Nick Clegg. At least it used to be—until he earned all that Facebook stock.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.