A buzz of excitement in the Commons. The House was full and everyone on the Treasury Bench had changed seats. To the left of the new Prime Minister we saw a new team: Coffey, Kwarteng, Braverman, Cleverly.
And here at 11.58 came the captain who appointed them, Liz Truss, greeted by a tremendous cheer from her supporters, among whom one glimpsed the brave but shell-shocked faces of various players who have been dropped.
How calm the new PM looked. She gave no sign of nerves as she promised to “work constructively with all members of this House”.
She proceeded to spend 35 minutes arguing constructively with any member of the House who opposed her. From the Labour benches, Paulette Hamilton (Birmingham, Erdington) referred to an early publication by Truss, Kwarteng et al, Britannia Unchained, in which the British were described as “the worst idlers in the world”.
Hamilton wondered whether Truss’s message to the thousands of low-paid working parents in her constituency was that they “should just put in more graft”.
Truss refused to deviate one iota from her doctrine that economic growth is the answer, and will produce well-paid jobs. She conveyed this message with the simplicity a teacher might adopt when addressing a remedial class.
Words of one syllable, and not too many of them, were preferred. Soon she faced Sir Keir Starmer, who to his credit kept his own questions short. “I am against a windfall tax,” she told him.
Sir Keir objected: “The money’s got to come from somewhere.” Truss replied: “This country will not be able to tax its way to growth.”
She also told him he was “looking at this in the wrong way”. Here is a Conservative with a clear economic doctrine which she believes in and is determined to preach. We have not known such a leader take office since 1979.
So Truss’s first PMQs had the charm of novelty. When Sir Keir complained that there was “nothing new about the Tory fantasy of trickle-down economics”, she retorted that there was “nothing new about a Labour leader calling for more tax rises”.
This line produced the biggest cheer from the Tory benches, which loved seeing the battle carried to the enemy.
Truss can be astonishingly cloth-eared. She referred to “my Secretary of State for Housing” and “my new Health Secretary”.
They are actually Her Majesty’s ministers. Does one catch here an echo of the young Truss who wanted to abolish the monarchy?
But a cloth ear need is not always incompatible with a sense of humour. When Theresa May congratulated her on becoming the third woman PM, and wondered why all three have been Conservative, Truss replied that Labour was having difficulty finding not just a female leader, but “a leader who doesn’t come from North London”.
These are dark days for North London, home of Hampstead thinkers and of successive Labour leaders who cannot help sharing or at least feeling sympathetic towards their neighbours’ progressive outlook.
But this was a good day for the new PM. She was formidable. One might say that by keeping things simple, she made them look easy.