Conservatives ‘deserve better’, Tory MPs tell Truss

Rumours abound of plots to remove Liz Truss as Prime Minister after a chaotic start to her premiership.

16 October 2022

Prime Minister Liz Truss has been effectively told that the “game is up” by two of her own MPs.

Crispin Blunt earlier on Sunday said he does not think the Prime Minister can survive the current crisis and “it’s now a question as to how the succession is managed”.

He was joined by Andrew Bridgen on Sunday evening, who told the Telegraph newspaper: “We cannot carry on like this.”

Mr Bridgen, who backed Rishi Sunak over the summer, said: “Our country, its people and our party deserve better.”

It comes as one senior Tory MP said it is “very difficult” to say whether Ms Truss should continue as Prime Minister, and another likened the Government to “libertarian jihadists”.

Mr Blunt, who is the Conservative MP for Reigate and was a justice minister in the early years of David Cameron’s premiership, backed Jeremy Hunt in the summer Tory leadership contest.

He told Channel 4’s Andrew Neil Show: “I think the game is up and it’s now a question as to how the succession is managed.”

Crispin Blunt
Crispin Blunt said the ‘game is up’ for Liz Truss (PA)

Asked how the party will get rid of her, he said: “If there is such a weight of opinion in the parliamentary party that we have to have a change, then it will be effected.

“Exactly how it is done and exactly under what mechanism – but it will happen.”

Conservative former chief whip Andrew Mitchell, who also backed Mr Hunt in the leadership contest, told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend programme: “The Conservative parliamentary party has always shown itself clear, and indeed ruthless, in making changes if required.

“If the Prime Minister proves unable to govern effectively she will have to stand down, and the parliamentary party will make that clear. And indeed the mechanism is not important. It’s that reality that would assert itself.

“But we should all be trying to help her to succeed and to get it right.”

Mr Hunt, widely seen now as the most powerful man in Government, insisted on Sunday that “the Prime Minister’s in charge”.

He also told BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg that after two failed leadership bids, his desire for the top job has been “clinically excised”.

Robert Halfon
Tory MP Robert Halfon said a ‘reset’ is needed (House of Commons/PA)

But former chancellor George Osborne, who is no longer an MP, told the Andrew Neil Show that Ms Truss will most likely be gone “before Christmas”.

Asked if Ms Truss can survive, he said: “Probably not. She is pino – Prime Minister in name only at the moment.”

He acknowledged “things are unpredictable”, and said it is “possible to imagine a situation” where she “completely resets”, albeit that is a “long shot”.

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, who recently became the chairwoman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, told Times Radio it is a “very difficult one” whether Ms Truss should stay on in the top job.

Asked if Ms Truss could or should survive in Number 10, Ms Kearns said: “Ultimately it is a very difficult one because I think, you know, we’ve had the questions around our moral competency. We’ve now got questions around our fiscal competency.

“I don’t want further questions around even our ability to continue to govern as a party and our ability to stay united. It’s an incredibly difficult one and, ultimately, I need to listen to colleagues and speak to colleagues over coming days.

Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock said a Cabinet reshuffled is required (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

“But do we need a fundamental reset? Without question.”

The critical remarks come as another senior Conservative MP, Robert Halfon, said he wants an “apology and a fundamental reset”.

Mr Halfon, chairman of the Commons Education Committee, declined to deny that MPs are considering installing a new leader.

“We’re all talking to see what can be done about it,” he said.

“I worry that, over the past few weeks, the Government has looked like libertarian jihadists and treated the whole country as kind of laboratory mice on which to carry out ultra, ultra free market experiments. And this is not where the country is. There’s been one horror story after another,” he added.

Mr Halfon said he is not calling on Ms Truss to go but told Times Radio the Government needs a reset “pretty soon”, adding: “I can’t give you hours or days.”

Former health secretary Matt Hancock said the Prime Minister needs to reshuffle her Cabinet.

Speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg about the prospect of a leadership contest, Mr Hancock said “I don’t think we’re there yet,” but he added she needs to do three things: deliver an economically credible plan, reshuffle her Cabinet, and restore trust.

“She needs to bring the broad Conservative Party in her Government. She needs a reshuffle,” he said.

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