JACOB Rees-Mogg, who in these strange times passes for an expert on the constitution, earlier this year achieved notoriety by suggesting that Britain was moving to a more presidential-style of government.

Well stone the crows! Jacob has caught up on what the rest of us had noticed a long while back.

The prime minister, whoever that might be, is no longer primus inter pares – first among equals – around the Cabinet table. Instead, Number 10 has gathered more and more power to itself. Which is why Liz Truss and the lagging Rishi Sunak are promising the Earth to the Tory faithful, in supreme disregard of the fact they will have to get each and every new policy through an elected Parliament.

Problem number one for whoever wins – an estimated 15% of Conservative members have still to make up their minds ahead of the new Tory leader being announced in a week’s time – is that the backbenchers are in no mood to take orders from Downing Street.

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For starters, despite Truss having the formal support of around 150 MPs, there are another 200-odd who have not declared. They are looking for jobs or are petrified of losing their seats to the LibDems or a possible Starmer government in 2024. Liz is going to have to work extra hard to keep this bunch on board.

Then there is the angry brigade of former ministers whose careers are effectively over and who have nothing better to do than make mischief. Think Michael Gove and possibly Dominic Raab. This group may or may not include Sunak himself. I suspect he will turn out to be as meek and mild as a political lamb, not because he is reconciled to Truss getting the top job but because he is calculating she will lose the 2024 General Election and he can return as the Tory Party’s saviour. And pigs might fly.

So expect Truss to find herself in endless internal battles as she naively tries to impose her will on the Conservative backbenches. Her difficulties may or may not be compounded by the opposition Labour and SNP MPs. Starmer is following the well-trodden route of saying little and doing even less, in the hope the Tories will self-destruct. As Napoleon had it, why interrupt an enemy general when they are making a mistake?

However, Labour’s deliberate somnambulance may not work this time round. The cost of living crisis is existential. Starmer needs to have a Plan B ready, and nobody thinks he has. Besides, Starmer lacks the charisma of a Tony Blair or Harold Wilson. It is not that he is keeping his political powder dry, he is just boring. And boring won’t work when real leadership is required.

Of course, we have the SNP. Their Westminster leader, my old mucker Ian Blackford, has been telling folk north of the Border they need to respect the UK Parliament. And here I was thinking we had sent SNP representatives to London to expose the ridiculousness, incompetence and perfidy of the House of Commons and its unelected sidekick.

But if your Big Idea is to turn the 2024 General Election into a referendum on Scottish independence, then logically you have to tell folk that Westminster is important and should be obeyed.

So don’t expect Ian to rock too many boats.

Surprisingly, in the middle of all this, the Truss camp has started to formulate some radical new ideas – ideas that might cause Labour and the SNP trouble. So far, the media have been slow to react. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Behind the lacklustre Truss is a new team of Tory rising stars who are anti-establishment – meaning they want to take on the existing cosy institutions that dominate British public life. Institutions such as the Treasury, the Bank of England and the BBC. I’m talking about the likes of Kemi Badenoch, Kwasi Kwarteng, and James Cleverly.

Before you say: “What’s wrong with blowing up the Treasury and the Beeb?”, let’s ponder what Truss and co will put in their place. Essentially, if you ignore all the blank cheques Truss is signing, she is proposing a radical overhaul of the Whitehall machinery. This comes down to centralising power in Number 10 and doing it for real.

Welcome to presidential government big style. A presidential government precludes any compromise with Scotland. In fact, it presages a rolling back of existing devolution.

First up, Truss wants to split up the Treasury and hand its departmental control over economic growth policy directly to the Cabinet Office in Downing Street. The UK is virtually unique among the big economies – think US, Germany and Japan – in having one department run economic policy and the government’s tax and spending activities. That makes the Treasury – and whoever is chancellor – very powerful. Hence the plan to cut the Treasury in two.

Next, the Bank of England. Back in 1997, incoming chancellor Gordon Brown surprised everybody by making the BoE “independent”. What that meant was that the BoE got to set interest rates, based on achieving certain goals set by the chancellor. This had two political advantages. It relieved Brown of any criticism if interest rates went up (Gordon is all about presentation). And it re-assured the City of London that Labour would not run amok financially.

However, it has been downhill since then. First, the BoE has just printed money (aka “quantitative easing”) like no tomorrow, which has added to inflation, not curbed it. Second, the current BoE governor, Andrew Bailey, is a wimp who first denied inflation would last very long but who now wants a stonking recession to curb it.

Ms Truss is not best pleased because a recession is the last thing she wants on her watch. So there is now talk of taking away the Bank of England’s notional independence. Downside: just wait till former investment banker Kwasi Kwarteng (Eton and Cambridge) starts setting interest rates for his banker friends.

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We might note here that the SNP have signally failed to lead any similar discussion regarding the reform (good or bad) of state institutions. As far as I can see, the SNP intend to copy everything in miniature from the UK. That includes a so-called “independent” central bank, ie your mortgage rate set by some Charlotte Square millionaire.

And the infamous (but largely dead) SNP Growth Report promised to import wholesale the UK’s current bank regulation machinery despite the fact that I and other SNP MPs had spent years fighting this banker’s charter tooth and nail when it was first introduced by George Osborne.

I suspect the Truss anti-establishment agenda – a last hurrah of the Thatcherite right – will fail because she will be overwhelmed by the economic crisis. But sheer political necessity may drive her to take an axe to the Whitehall bureaucracy. In which case, presidential government in the UK will be here for good. And don’t expect Keir Starmer to put back the clock. Labour would jump at the chance to centralise power.

None of this bodes well for Scottish independence. A world preoccupied with war and inflation won’t give a damn about Downing Street ignoring the democratic will of the Scottish people. We are on our own. But that may be no bad thing.