Truss faces bitter fight for survival as Tories plot to oust her

Crispin Blunt says ‘the game is up’ for Liz Truss

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Supporters fear furious backbenchers could kick her out within days unless she makes “dramatic” and “quick” changes to her leadership. But many senior Tories believe she has simply run out of time to save her premiership, following weeks of economic chaos.

As Conservative veterans lined up to condemn Ms Truss’s premiership, former minister Crispin Blunt yesterday became the first party MP to publicly call for her resignation.

Declaring the “game’s up” for the premier, he added: “It’s now a question as to how the succession is managed.”

Other Tories took potshots at Ms Truss as she held crisis talks with her new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt.

Robert Halfon lit the blue touch paper, demanding the PM must “say sorry” to the British people “frightened” by her economic plans.

He said: “Of course colleagues are unhappy with what is going on. We’re all talking to see what can be done about it.

“I worry that 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. There’s been one horror story after another.”

Andrew Bridgen, who backed Rishi Sunak’s leadership campaign, said Ms Truss had “sunk her own leadership” and “run out of friends”.

He added: “Unless this is resolved quickly, we are heading for a general election. Our country, its people and our party deserve better.”

Former health secretary Matt Hancock gave Ms Truss an ultimatum to change or face a leadership challenge.

Urging her to reshuffle the Cabinet to extend her support across the party, he said: “There’s a huge amount of talent on the backbenches. I’m not talking about me, but there are many others that should be brought into Government.”

Former chancellor George Osborne said he thought Ms Truss was unlikely to hold on as Prime Minster until Christmas.

He described her as “PINO – Prime Minister in name only”.

But Mr Osborne said it was “possible to imagine a situation” where the Prime Minister “completely resets”, U-turns on the mini-Budget and reshuffles to bring Rishi Sunak supporters into the Cabinet.

Senior Tory Andrew Mitchell warned his party would not hesitate in being “ruthless” in getting rid of Ms Truss.

He said: “If the Prime Minister proves unable to govern effectively, she will have to stand down”

Mr Mitchell said despite rules protecting Ms Truss from a leadership challenge for another 11 months, he believed they could be changed if there was enough support.

Mr Blunt, who has been in the Commons since 1997, called for Mr Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Jeremy Hunt to join together and take over.

He added: “I would be very, very surprised if there are people dying in a ditch to keep Liz Truss as our Prime Minister.”

Mr Blunt said a Sunak-Hunt-Mordaunt coalition would “command very great support among the parliamentary and among the party in the country who are just desperate to get this sorted out”.

MP Jamie Wallis also called on the Prime Minister to quit last night, saying she had “undermined Britain’s economic credibility and fractured our party irreparably”.

In a letter to Ms Truss, the MP, who came out as trans this year, wrote: “Watching senior colleagues exploit the issue of transgender rights and weaponise it in order to score cheap political points was extremely unpleasant.

“You chose not to challenge this behaviour and have now chosen to have those same colleagues sit alongside you in your Government.”

The MP for Bridgend and Porthcrawl also said on Twitter that Ms Truss was unable to unite the divided party.

Some MPs believe Ms Truss can be forced out only when an alternative “unity candidate” is in place. That would avoid the need for another leadership election which would take weeks or months and further divide the Tories.

Several MPs are now pushing for respected Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who chose not to stand for the leadership in the summer, as the next PM.

It is understood his supporters asked colleagues over the weekend if they would be willing to rally around him should the Prime Minister’s position become untenable.

A senior defence source insisted Mr Wallace was not seeking leadership, saying he was focused on supporting Ukraine and the West’s security.

The insider added: “Our future as a Government and as a Conservative Party lies in demonstrating and providing stability. Anything other than that will lead to a deserved spell in opposition.”

Meanwhile, Tory fury also boiled over after allies of Ms Truss launched a foul-mouthed attack on former chancellor Sajid Javid.

As rumours swirled that Mr Javid was Ms Truss’s first choice to replace sacked Kwasi Kwarteng and return to No11, sources said that after years working with him in Cabinet, she regarded him as “s***”.

They also suggested that Ms Truss “laughed out loud” at the idea of the return of Mr Javid, who was sacked by Boris Johnson in 2020. Describing yesterday’s attack as
“disgusting”, Mr Halfon said: “I’ve known him since university, he’s a really good man, he was respected.

“He didn’t tank the economy when he was chancellor and if the Prime Minister wants to unite the party and get people around her, these kind of negative briefings about colleagues have got to stop.”

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he was “deeply sceptical” about so-called trickle-down economics.

In an interview in Australia, he warned there was “no moral case” for Budgets that hit the poorest disproportionately.

Expressing concerns about tax cuts for the wealthiest, the Archbishop said: “You know, if you cut money for the rich, ever since Keynes wrote his general theory…he showed very clearly that the rich save if they’ve got enough to live on.

“So if you want to generate spending in the economy, you put more money into the hands of those who need the money to buy food, to buy goods, to buy basic necessities.”

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