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Liz Truss has been wearing that dress for years and years, no matter if it was also worn by a fictional dictator

Liz Truss's dress is the same as Emma Thompson's in Years and Years, for sure, but did she model herself on the fictional fascist? Unlikely

Liz Truss's dress is exactly the same as Thompson's in Years and Years, but she has been wearing it for, well, years and years. Image: Sky News/Studio Canal

Liz Truss’s Conservative Party conference speech appears to have settled some nerves in her tumultuous premiership among the party at least. But among some quarters she is facing fresh — but unfounded — criticism: that she is intentionally wearing the same dress as Emma Thompson’s diabolical populist dictator from TV show Years and Years.

Truss’s speech itself caught attention for railing against an “anti-growth coalition” — essentially a list of anyone who disagrees with her — as well as an interruption from Greenpeace protesters questioning the PM’s mandate for such a sea change in government policy without an electoral mandate.

She also caught flak from 90s dance band M People for using their hit single Moving on Up as her entrance music, a song which features such unfortunate lyrics as “Just who do you think you are? Stop actin’ like some kind of star” and “Move right out of here, baby, go on pack your bags”.

But it’s the dress which has caught the most attention online as the conference closed. The Guardian even went so far as to write a story about the offending item itself, but neglecting a few key facts.

At first glance you’d be forgiven for seeing the similarities. It’s the same bright red, has the same puffy shoulders, notched lapels and three-quarter length sleeves. Truss even matches Thompson with the stern black belt.

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By all accounts, it’s the same dress, (Karen Millen, £225, in case you were wondering) and comes in a range of colours. So did Truss really set out to dress like a fictional dictator, and wear the same dress as Thompson’s character Vivienne Rook in a scene where she announces concentration camps?

Well, no. Or at least it’s highly unlikely.

Years and Years was a dystopian near-future drama series which explored what would happen if a Trump-like populist politician took power in the UK. Enter Emma Thompson, a lot more polished than The Donald with honeyed-words and slick charm belying some terrifying far-right policies.

The six-part series aired in May 2019 and, right there in episode five, as she is discussing concentration camps, is that red dress.

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But this particular outfit is a stalwart of the Truss wardrobe department, wheeled out and brushed off for big occasions. She wore it on her first big trip to the US as international trade secretary in August 2019 to see UN-botherer John Bolton. And a month earlier when introducing Boris Johnson at a hustings for his Conservative leadership big.

And again when attending a cabinet meeting as chief secretary to the treasury in March of that year. And while standing next to then-Chancellor Philip Hammond as he delivered his Budget. In October 2018.

So did Truss see Thompson’s fascist fashion and think “that’s the look for me”? Unlikely, given she was wearing the same dress at least eight months before the show aired.

Should someone on her team perhaps have spotted the similarities and warned her of the terrible optics, given the weeks-long train wreck that has typified her first month as PM? Absolutely.

Will she be wearing it again? With a recent history of not always making the best choices in public appearances and a media adviser who joined her team from that of Prince Andrew… well, anything is possible.

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