Truss launches series of meetings to save career days before it ends
There are pushes within the Tory party to replace Truss with Rishi Sunak, with predictions mounting that her position as PM will crumble.
Liz Truss is gathering her cabinet ministers at No 10 on Monday evening and launching a chain of meetings with Tory MPs before the next budget plan on October 31, in an attempt to salvage her career as PM in what could be the last remaining days for her in office.
After being appointed by Truss as chancellor, Jeremy Hunt assured that his appointer was still “in charge” after he did not rule out more flips on her disastrous mini-budget agenda including scrapping the 1 penny cut to the income tax base rate.
"There were mistakes," acknowledged Hunt, a former foreign secretary who is seen as a Tory centrist. He said Kwarteng and Truss had erred in trying to cut taxes for the highest earners and in presenting their budget without independent forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Opinium for the Trades Union Congress conducted a poll to estimate constituency-level results, anticipating a 1997-style landslide for the Labour party winning 411 seats and the Conservatives (Tories) losing 219 seats, the Liberal Democrats on 39 seats and SNP on 37, alongside 10 losses of cabinet minister seats including those of Jeremy Hunt, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Thérèse Coffey in a general election, along with former prime minister Boris Johnson.
Truss has been facing scrutiny from her own party ever since she took office, as veteran Tory MP Crispin Blunt was the first to publicly urge Truss to resign, believing that she could not withstand the current crisis: “I think the game is up and it’s now a question as to how the succession is managed,” he said. The Tories, in addition, are pushing forward Rishi Sunak and leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt to replace Truss, according to the Daily Mail.
Rounding up Tories
While Truss rounds up the Tories to gain back trust and support this week, Hunt will hold a series of meetings on the topic of the economy for MPs. Downing Street insiders however acknowledged her fragile status, exhibiting some hope for winning time after appointing Hunt but that the "budget will look very different now. But we’re taking one day at a time,” an insider said.
Truss is in hot water as she faces major backlash from Conservative MPs and the United Kingdom sinks deeper into financial disaster and record inflation, with the British pound hitting its lowest level since 1971. She has faced major criticism just a month into her term as PM, from failed promises to failing policies. Her term has witnessed a great recession almost taking over the UK and her own party known as the Tories, decrying her actions as an unfit PM.
Treasurer Geoffrey Clifton-Brown relayed to the BBC that the rules keeping Truss protected in office for a year could be abandoned if enough Tory MPs support it. “Of course we have the power to change the rules,” he said, adding that a critical and substantial number of Tory MP support would be required to maintain that. “We will only change the rules if it is very clear that a large majority, by which I mean probably 60% to 70%, of the party want the rules to be changed.”
Even defense spending, which Truss had promised to increase by 3% of GDP, and the health service, would be cut down, according to Treasury sources. A black hole in the public finances of £72 billion, larger than the £62 billion stated by the Institute for Fiscal Studies last week, has been identified by The Office for Budget Responsibility. This comes in Truss' most critical week, with expectations that she may be gone by the end of it.
“Lots of my colleagues are facing wipeout at the next election and they may conclude that it’s better to try to get rid of her now and spend the next 18 months rebuilding,” a Truss-supporting MP said.
Senior Tory backbencher Robert Halfon predicted a "bloodbath" of a general election for his party, commenting that an apology shoudl be issued by Truss to the British public for “the mess of the past few weeks”, warning “it has to happen pretty soon, I can’t give you hours or days”.