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Lettuce 1, Liz Truss 0

The British prime minister's decision to resign provided an unlikely victory for the leafy vegetable, which had been pitted against her by a tabloid paper.

LONDON — Liz Truss lost to a head of lettuce.

The leafy vegetable's decay was more gradual than Truss' crumbling tenure as British prime minister, which ended with her resignation Thursday. Her decision provided an unlikely victory for the lettuce, which had been pitted against her by a tabloid newspaper last Friday. 

But as she announced her resignation in brief remarks Thursday outside the prime minster's residence, more than 12,000 Twitter users were watching a live feed of the unrefrigerated iceberg, which cost around 68 cents when it was bought by The Daily Star newspaper last week and put in front of a camera next to a picture of Truss.  

“Which wet lettuce will last longer?” read a caption on the feed, which was also streamed on YouTube. Many left comments, joking about the situation.   

The stunt was inspired by a column in The Economist magazine titled “The Iceberg Lady,” a parody of the name given to Truss’ political idol Margaret Thatcher, who was known as "the Iron Lady" when she was prime minister in the 1980s. The article also described Truss as having “the shelf-life of a lettuce.”

As the days wore on, thousands of viewers tuned in and watched as a blond wig was placed on top of the vegetable, mimicking Truss’ hair. 

Googly eyes were also added and the tableau was expanded to include two British flags and a red mug bearing the legend “Keep Calm and Carry On,” a slogan used to raise morale in Britain during World War II.  

Other foodstuffs were added and taken away, including tofu, a joke at the expense of former interior minister Suella Braverman, who attacked “tofu-eating wokerati” as she defended new legislation designed to crack down on disruptive protests. Braverman resigned Wednesday.    

After Truss's announcement Thursday, viewer numbers for the dressed-up lettuce hit 21,000 as the strains of the U.K.’s national anthem “God Save the King” rang out and the photo of Truss was flipped face-down. 

A protester holds a sign comparing Prime Minister Liz Truss to a lettuce in London on Oct. 19, 2022.
A protester outside Parliament in London on Wednesday.Amer Ghazzal / Shutterstock

“The lettuce outlasted Liz Truss,” the caption declared as a remix of “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang kicked in, lights flashed in the background and bottles of alcohol were added to the scene.

While Truss’ leadership struggles made headlines around the world, the lettuce was regularly mentioned amid the analysis and commentary on international media outlets, popping up in French and Spanish newspapers, as well as U.S. channels like NBC News.  

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev tweeted “congrats to lettuce” shortly after Truss’ speech.

Having been formally appointed by Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 6, Truss is now by far the shortest-serving prime minister in British history. The previous record holder, George Canning, lasted 119 days in the early 19th century; Truss will serve about 50. (Thatcher ended her tenure in 1990 as the longest-serving British prime minster of the 20th century.)

A leadership contest to decide the next leader of the Conservative Party, who will by default become the next prime minister, is now underway and will conclude in the next week. The opposition Labour Party called for an immediate general election.

The future is less clear for the lettuce, but the rot has likely set in and the trash heap of history is its most likely destination.