The primary conversation among British people over these last few weeks has been this—Liz Truss: bad prime minister or worst prime minister ever? Obviously it’s an unanswerable question; her legacy is something that can only be truly judged with the benefit of historical perspective. However, we can at least say with total certainty that Truss is the only British prime minister who finds herself locked in a battle of survival with a room-temperature lettuce.

Make no mistake, this has been a bad week. Last week ended with Truss’s premiership in free fall. Her long-stated political ambition to bring back trickle-down economics blew up in her face, simultaneously damaging mortgages, pensions, and the pound itself in one fell swoop. Economists criticized her. Her own party started to openly question her suitability for the job. Voters abandoned the Conservatives in such huge numbers that, come the next election, the party may be represented in parliament by a humming lump of anti-matter. All in all, Truss couldn’t have endured more self-inflicted wounds if she’d covered herself in mousetraps and appeared on an episode of Jackass.

Things were supposed to improve. Truss allies told the Sunday papers that she was set to launch a full-scale charm offensive on her own party, in a valiant attempt to turn the tide. You can imagine Truss doing many things—plotting, tutting, sitting at the foot of your bed unblinking for hours at a time as you sleep—but being charming doesn’t immediately seem like one of them.

And so her diplomacy was put to the test, with an extraordinary attack on former cabinet member Michael Gove, by the same allies in the same newspapers. “Michael is troubled and has never found his place in the sun. There is something deeply troubling about the darkness inside him,” an anonymous friend of Truss’s told The Sunday Times. It grips him and it takes over. It corrupts his soul.” And it’s a perfectly reasonable sentiment if Gove was, say, a Batman supervillain who had enslaved the population of Gotham City and not someone fretting about unfunded tax cuts.

Truss is the only British prime minister who finds herself locked in a battle of survival with a room-temperature lettuce.

Truss’s next attempt to cauterize her self-mutilation was an appearance at the 1922 Committee, a vaguely arcane meeting of Conservative backbenchers. Again, in what is coming to look like a classic Truss move, she bungled it beyond all comprehension, spooking her M.P.’s so badly that they all went running to the press, exposing just how much they hate her. One claimed that her policies were “trashing the last ten years” of Conservative government. Another predicted that she’d be out of a job by Halloween. One, billed as a Truss supporter, seconded getting rid of her as soon as possible, adding, “We are cold-blooded like that.”

Even King Charles doesn’t seem to know what to do with Truss. At their scheduled audience at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, King Charles greeted his prime minister by muttering “Dear oh dear” at her through gritted teeth, in the exact manner a plumber would upon discovering an exploded toilet.

What we have now is open warfare. An opinion poll yesterday showed that Truss has the lowest levels of satisfaction with the British public ever recorded, and the rest of her party can smell blood. Senior Conservatives are said to be lining up former leadership candidates Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak as co-replacements. Which isn’t perfect—if the plot works, Truss’s successor will become the fifth prime minister in six years, and the fourth to be chosen without a general election—but probably better than the ongoing financial implosion.

Hug it out … Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt greets Truss at a political event.

Truss can absolutely sense this, too, which is why yesterday she sacked her chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng. This is no small thing. As well as being professionally embarrassing (Kwarteng is now the second-shortest-serving chancellor in British history, beaten only by a guy who died on the job), it’s a sign of the utter panic happening at Downing. Truss and Kwarteng were extremely close—they came up with their shared economic vision together, wrote a book about it together, there are unsubstantiated rumors that they had an affair—and her decision to bin him at the earliest opportunity is the biggest sign yet that she is in way over her head.

Which brings us back to the lettuce. Yesterday the British tabloid The Daily Star started live-streaming footage of a photograph of Truss and an iceberg lettuce with googly eyes, asking, “Which wet lettuce will last longer?” At the outset, the stunt was probably intended as a joke. But if things keep atrophying at the current rate, that lettuce will still be good for a few salads long after Truss has resigned.

Stuart Heritage is a Kent, U.K.–based Writer at Large for AIR MAIL and the author of Bedtime Stories for Worried Liberals