As Liz Truss heads for the exit, memes continue to plague her path

Britain's outgoing PM Liz Truss arriving at Conservative Party Headquarters in central London on Oct 19, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

In the end, the lettuce won.

Ms Liz Truss’ truncated term as Britain’s prime minister will perhaps be remembered not only for the political and financial upheavals it created in its wake, but also for the endless stream of mockery that shadowed it.

That a lasting image of her is one where she loses to a rotting vegetable in a mean-spirited publicity stunt set up by a British tabloid is sealing her place in history as a promising leader and disrupter who, in just 45 days in office, devolved into a rich source of memes.

The lettuce memes were particularly relentless.

The publicity stunt’s purveyor, The Daily Star, which a week ago began a live feed showing a lettuce and asking if Ms Truss could stay in office well after the vegetable rots, quickly claimed victory.

The gag was inspired by The Economist, which estimated that between a near-immediate political implosion at the beginning of her tenure and the 10 days of mourning after Queen Elizabeth died, her grip on power amounted to seven days, or “roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce”.

The live feed, which has racked up over 45,000 likes on YouTube, has since been replaced with an image of champagne bottles, a tin mug and “thanks” written on a piece of paper set against rave, celebratory music.

Then, there was the lettuce standing behind the lectern in front of 10 Downing Street. There it was again, superimposed on the head of a boxer – with “lettuce” on his trouser – triumphing over a dejected opponent with Ms Truss’ head on him.

In another post, the lettuce was sashaying off a fashion stage, with the jeering text: “Liz Truss. You will always have these 45 days of history and chaos. Thank you for the comedy.”

There was the recent viral video of Jennifer Lopez walking spectacularly on a catwalk wearing a green jungle Versace dress – that image lifted in Twitter posts portraying the lettuce as a famous singer, actress and social media icon triumphing over Ms Truss.

The focus for all this jeering was on how swiftly Ms Truss’ reign ended.

Images of Taylor Swift inevitably emerged to shore up the heckling.

There were also photos of 10 Downing being advertised on Airbnb as “perfect for short stays”, and another one that replaces the hallowed address’ Georgian, black oak door with a glass-and-steel rotating door.

Ms Truss – whether it’s because of her eccentric manners, uninspiring speeches or off-kilter metaphors – has always provided fodder for viral online content as a politician.

In 2014, a speech she delivered when she was environment secretary went viral.

In it, she famously declared: “We import two-thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace.”

She then excitedly topped it up with: “In December, I’ll be in Beijing opening up new pork markets”.

It wasn’t surprising then that she was again mocked for another one of her food allegories, promising in a key speech as prime minister to “grow the pie” of the British economy.

Keyboard warriors were quick to point out: “You can’t grow pies.”

Of course, no British meme stream would be complete without the only resident of Downing that still inspires reverence, even among online trolls, chiming in: Larry the cat.

In a Twitter account that bears his name, Larry – officially the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom – is seen standing behind his own lectern, in front of 10 Downing, echoing what everyone in Britain is probably thinking right now: “This nonsense has gone on long enough.”

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