We are now at the end of the Tory leadership election.
Today, we will have the results, and tomorrow, either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will be sworn in as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
But throughout it all, another important contest has largely gone ignored: the race for Number 11.
Within the Westminster bubble, the conventional wisdom is that either Sajid Javid or Matt Hancock will become chancellor of the Exchequer. The problem with this theory is that neither Javid nor Hancock seems to stand for much – and they certainly don’t stand for the change we need.
Javid has disappointed many during his time at the Home Office, where he has consistently appeared to compromise his principles in order to gain easy popularity with the Tory membership.
Meanwhile, Hancock’s economic credentials include being a cheerleader for a new “Amazon tax” and wanting to extend sin taxes.
At the same time, the candidate who should be the frontrunner by a mile is dismissed as too “radical”.
That person is, of course, the chief secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss.
The critiques of Truss are essentially that she has strong beliefs and a guiding ideology.
Yes, she is a conviction politician, but rather than that being a mark against her, such ideology is essential when you consider the complacency that has gripped Downing Street over the past few years.
The Conservative party desperately needs someone who will extol the virtues of our capitalist system – a system that has lifted more people out of poverty across the globe than any other in the history of mankind.
And, as chief secretary to the Treasury, Truss has made it her mission to tackle vested interests, champion the personal freedom that modern Britain offers, and plan for how to harness Brexit to make sure that there are opportunities for all, regardless of background.
This is what’s required: a chancellor who isn’t afraid of making the case for economic liberalism, who stands up to officials across Westminster and Whitehall, and who understands that in order to win over modern Britain, you have to love it as it is, not hark back to a rose-tinted vision of the past.
So does she have a chance? She certainly should. An awkward yet incontrovertible truth for Team Boris is that many Tories – especially the free-market caucus and younger members – backed him simply because they thought it would result in Truss becoming chancellor.
Why? Because many members share her sense that the party is going far too much in the direction of dirigisme. While other MPs have appeared to accept this, Truss has been championing the cause of economic and personal freedom, in sharp contrast to Theresa May’s “the good that government can do” howler of a premiership.
In the particularly crucial area of winning over younger voters, Truss beats all other senior Tories. She is the only one who seems to get the Uber-riding, Airbnb-ing, Deliveroo-eating generation of young, freedom-loving Brits.
According to recent opinion polling, younger generations are even less likely to want higher taxes than older generations. They are more likely to start up businesses, and also more likely to cite making money as a motivating factor for that decision. In fact, since 2015, there has been an 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18-24 year olds.
The key point here for Conservatives is that the party cannot expect people, especially young people, to wax lyrical about economic and personal freedom if our leaders simply can’t be bothered – or lack the ability – to make the case for it.
Nor can you expect to win over modern Britain when the leading candidate to become the next Prime Minister has a team that resembles a stuffy old boys’ club.
Finally. the Treasury is the only great office of state that has never had a woman at the helm.
For the party that delivered the first and second female Prime Ministers, the first Jewish Prime Minister, the first Muslim home secretary, and the first openly gay female cabinet minister, appointing Truss as chancellor would be a historic moment for the Conservatives, the country, and a department that has only ever been headed by white men.
Truss is a fiscal hawk, an industrial economist by trade, and she embodies the principles on which the Conservative party must stand if it is to survive.
Boris Johnson said on the campaign trail that a woman would be appointed to one of the great offices of state. Frankly, if that doesn’t materialise as sending Truss to shake things up at our statist, europhile Treasury, he will have failed on day one.