Truss faces her Cabinet after FINALLY saying sorry for mini-BudgetOctober 18, 2022
Truss faces her Cabinet after FINALLY saying sorry: PM fights to hang on in the wake of mini-Budget demolition – as MPs compare her to a ‘corpse delivering its own eulogy’ and warn Tories must focus on limiting Labour’s majority
- Prime Minister Liz Truss is under enormous pressure after her economic plan was almost entirely scrapped
- New Chancellor Jeremy Hunt threw out ‘almost all’ of the tax cuts included in her disastrous mini-budget
- Sunak has denied maneuvering to oust Ms Truss as Prime Minister but a senior source said ‘he still wants it’
Liz Truss is facing her Cabinet today as she struggles to cling on after finally saying sorry for the disastrous mini-Budget.
The PM is in for another brutal day as MPs consider whether and how to remove her in the wake of Jeremy Hunt’s extraordinary demolition of her flagship economic plans.
Having stubbornly failed to do so when she sacked Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday, Ms Truss belatedly apologised for the debacle last night in a BBC interview, conceding she had made ‘mistakes’ and gone ‘too far too fast’. A nervous-looking premier vowed that she will lead the party into the next election.
She gave a similar message to the One Nation group of MPs last night. But Tories who attended compared it to a ‘corpse delivering its own eulogy’.
Senior backbencher Simon Hoare warned this morning that the party might need to focus on ‘avoiding a landslide defeat’, with polls showing Labour 36 points ahead.
Defence minister James Heappey insisted that Ms Truss had apologised more quickly than Boris Johnson did, but also signalled problems ahead as he warned against trying to cut funding for the military.
Having tried to appease her centrist MPs, Ms Truss will appear before the right-wing ERG group this evening – many of whom are angry that tax cuts have been ditched.
Much will hang on the stance taken by powerful 1922 chief Graham Brady, who met Ms Truss yesterday. There are suggestions he wants to hold off any action until the Budget on Halloween – when the Chancellor is expected to lay out a nightmare menu of £40billion of spending cuts.
With the tax burden now set to rise to the highest since 1950 and households facing £5,000 energy bills after the government announced its two-year ‘guarantee’ will in fact end in April, MPs are increasingly panicked about the prospect of voters giving their verdict.
Cabinet allies fear Liz Truss could be forced out if she fails to set out a convincing argument in the coming days for why she should be allowed to continue
Penny Mordaunt answering the Urgent Questions (UQ) session
Millions of households face a ‘cliff-edge’ of soaring energy bills next year after Jeremy Hunt drastically cut short the Government’s support scheme from two years to six months.
The new Chancellor said yesterday the scheme, which aims to keep average annual household bills below £2,500 amid soaring energy prices, will be replaced in April.
Instead, he promised ‘targeted help’ for the poorest families. However, analysts have warned the move could see average bills double to more than £5,000 for some households.
Meanwhile, consumer champion Martin Lewis, using figures from Cornwall Insight, forecast energy bills to rise by 73 per cent to around £4,350-a-year for an average household in April.
Last night, Mr Lewis, who founded consumer site MoneySavingExpert, warned: ‘If these are in the right ballpark, the promised ‘targeted help’ will need to be targeted up into middle incomes for people to get through this. Especially if it stays at those levels for the next winter.’
Mr Hunt made his announcement amid the reversal of £32billion worth of tax cuts to reassure the markets after the turmoil sparked by last month’s ‘mini-Budget’.
In a warning of a possible return to austerity, he said the Government would need to make ‘eye-wateringly difficult’ decisions to balance the books.
Speaking after new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt dismantled her tax-cutting growth plans, Liz Truss acknowledged she had gone ‘too far and too fast’.
‘I want to accept responsibility and say sorry for the mistakes that have been made,’ she told the BBC. ‘I was expecting it to be tough and it has been tough, I think it’s fair to say.’
Earlier, Mr Hunt used an extraordinary five-minute televised statement to axe ‘almost all’ of the Prime Minister’s flagship tax cuts in a bid to reassure the financial markets that the Government was serious about balancing the books.
He said its central responsibility was ‘do what is necessary for economic stability’, adding: ‘We are a country that funds our promises and pays our debts.
‘When that is questioned, as it has been, the Government will take the difficult decisions necessary to ensure that there is trust and confidence in our national finances.’
A Downing Street source acknowledged that the Prime Minister faced a ‘critical 24/48 hours’ to cling to her job.
Mr Hunt last night pleaded with rebels not to risk further instability by ousting the PM, urging MPs to ‘give her a chance’.
Cabinet allies fear she could be forced out if she fails to set out a convincing argument in the coming days for why she should be allowed to continue.
One senior Tory said: ‘She needs to show people she’s got the capacity to get out of the mess she’s made – so far she’s a very long way from doing that.’
Mr Hunt, who was dubbed ‘the de facto PM’ by some Conservative MPs, warned that further ‘eye-wateringly difficult’ tax rises and spending cuts totalling up to £40billion would be needed by the end of this month.
And, in a major blow to millions of families and businesses, he said the two-year energy price ‘guarantee’ would now last for just six months.
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt denied that the PM was the victim of a ‘coup’ as the Chancellor tore up her plans.
And she provoked laughter in the House when she insisted Miss Truss was not hiding ‘under a desk’ to avoid scrutiny by MPs.
At a private meeting, Tory shop steward Sir Graham is said to have warned the PM that dozens of her MPs wanted her gone. But he is thought to be resisting pressure from backbenchers to change party rules that preclude a formal challenge for 12 months.
Former minister Mark Garnier said Ms Truss was ‘in office but is not in power,’ adding: ‘The question is do we give her a chance or do we rip the plaster off?’
Sir Edward Leigh, who backed Miss Truss for the leadership, warned that the scrapping of her tax-cutting agenda could see the UK ‘slide into a second-rate economy’.
Speculation is continuing that the PM could resign or be forced out after just over a month in office.
Some have claimed Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt could broker a deal to seize power from their former leadership rival.
Mr Sunak, who came second to Ms Truss in the Conservative leadership contest this summer, is said to have spoken to a key Mordaunt backer about a ‘tacit’ suggestion he could serve as her Chancellor. The claims were denied by Mr Sunak.
A source said: ‘Like everyone else Rishi wanted the party to come together and is fully focused on his constituency work.’
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