The calls mark the start of what is likely to be another dramatic week in Westminster.
16 October 2022
Liz Truss faced a further blow to her leadership on Sunday night, when three Tory MPs broke ranks to demand that she quits.
It marked the start of what is likely to be another dramatic week in Westminster, as Ms Truss bids to cling on to her premiership.
Her new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt insisted on Sunday that the Prime Minister was still in charge of her Government, even while he signalled plans to effectively scrap the economic vision that brought her to power.
Crispin Blunt, Andrew Bridgen and Jamie Wallis all called on the Prime Minister to go on Sunday, while other senior figures within the parliamentary party expressed deep unease with Truss’s leadership but stopped short of calling for her to go.
Mr Blunt told Channel 4’s Andrew Neil Show on Sunday: “I think the game is up and it’s now a question as to how the succession is managed.”
He was followed by Rishi Sunak supporter Andrew Bridgen on Sunday evening, who told the Telegraph newspaper: “We cannot carry on like this.”
Tory MP Jamie Wallis also confirmed that he had written to Ms Truss asking her to stand down, as he hit out at the “very basic and avoidable errors in your approach”.
The Chancellor, brought in to replace the sacked Kwasi Kwarteng and restore credibility to Downing Street, was at pains to stress that Ms Truss had changed and his fiscal plan on October 31 – now effectively a full budget – would be enough to reassure the country and the markets.
He told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme that Ms Truss remains “in charge” and insisted voters can still put their faith in her.
“She’s listened. She’s changed. She’s been willing to do that most difficult thing in politics, which is to change tack,” he said.
“What we’re going to do is to show not just what we want but how we’re going to get there.”
While Mr Hunt warned of “difficult decisions” and fresh “efficiency savings” for all departments, he declined to get into specifics about potential new cuts or what promises could be axed in a bid to save money.
He told the BBC: “I’m not taking anything off the table. I want to keep as many of those tax cuts as I possibly can because our long-term health depends on being a low-tax economy. And I very strongly believe that.”
One measure being considered is a delay of a year to Mr Kwarteng’s aim of reducing the basic rate of income tax, according to the Sunday Times.
Ms Truss met Mr Hunt at Chequers on Sunday but that meeting came amid a backdrop of fresh attacks on the Prime Minister’s authority.
Tory MP Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons Education Committee, did little to quash reports of plots against Ms Truss during an appearance on Sky News, when he declined to deny that MPs are considering installing a new leader.
“Of course, colleagues are unhappy with what is going on,” he said.
“We’re all talking to see what can be done about it.”
While he stopped short of calling for the Prime Minister to go just yet, he did launch an extraordinary attack on the Government and the guiding philosophy of the mini-budget.
“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.”
Senior Conservative Alicia Kearns also told Times Radio that the question of whether Ms Truss should continue in charge is “incredibly difficult”.
“Ultimately I need to listen to colleagues and speak to colleagues over coming days,” she said.
In an unusual intervention, US President Joe Biden also appeared to join in the criticism of Ms Truss’s plan, telling reporters “I wasn’t the only one that thought it was a mistake” and calling the outcome “predictable”.
Asked about her original economic strategy, he added that, while he disagreed with her plan, it is up to the British people.
Former health minister Matt Hancock also urged the Prime Minister to reshuffle the Cabinet to extend her support across the party.
Labour again hit out at the Government on Sunday, with shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds claiming that any cuts it now introduces are entirely due to its own “incompetence”.
He told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: “I’m not even sure what this Government’s economic policy is at the moment. I don’t know which bits of the budget still apply, and I don’t know what we will hear next week.”