Crispin Blunt became the first Tory MP to demand Liz Truss’s resignation – and said the Prime Minister should quit “now”.
Mr Blunt, the MP for Reigate for the past 25 years who will stand aside at the next general election, demanded Ms Truss left office and was replaced by a “combination” of Jeremy Hunt, Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt.
Asked if her six-week premiership could survive, he will tell Channel 4’s Andrew Neil Show: “No, I think the game’s up and it’s now a question as to how the succession is managed.
“If there is such a weight of opinion in the parliamentary party that we have to have a change, then it will be affected. Exactly how it’s done, and exactly under what mechanism… But it will happen.”
It came as Mr Hunt, Ms Truss’s new Chancellor, insisted the Prime Minister was “still in charge” of the country and economic policy, while refusing to rule out further U-turns on tax cuts.
Mr Hunt was last night preparing to delay a 1p cut to income tax and Tory MPs expressed their concerns overnight the new Chancellor was effectively running Downing Street.
Follow the latest updates below.
Crispin Blunt: We must ‘get a grip’ and get rid of Liz Truss
Asked by Andrew Neil why he believes “the game’s up” for Liz Truss after just six weeks, Crispin Blunt told his Channel 4 programme: “Well, we have the experience of the last few weeks.
“We also only have two years until the next General Election and we have to get a grip and show the country that we are capable of delivering sound money, sound administration, and all things the Conservative Party is expected to deliver in office.
“We’ve had a shocking few weeks, we’ve been taught a very harsh lesson by the markets, we’re being taught an even harsher lesson in terms of the opinion polls, and we have to sort ourselves out so the country gets effective government for the next two years.
“And, as importantly, the Labour Party is then put to the test under the alternative proposition that will be then put to the electorate in two years’ time.”
We need Sunak, Mordaunt and Jeremy Hunt, says Crispin Blunt
I would be very, very surprised if there are people dying in a ditch to keep Liz Truss as our Prime Minister.
What we need to effect is a transition to some kind of transition to a combination of the talents of Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Jeremy Hunt in the top leadership positions in the party.
They probably need to sit down and have a conversation between themselves about how to best effect the chance. And I think that the collective position from those three would command very great support among the parliamentary and among the party in the country who are just desperate to get this sorted out.
Roger Bootle: It’s time for Truss to change tack
After yet another U-turn and the replacement of the chancellor, I am wondering about the role of policy orthodoxy and how far governments can safely depart from it, writes Roger Bootle.
It is surely legitimate for governments to challenge orthodoxies on all sorts of issues. Without this, how would policy change and adapt? But there is an acute difference between economics, or at least the financial part of it, and almost all other areas of policy. Finance is all about arithmetic.
What cannot be raised in taxation to cover government spending has to be borrowed. We have a government that wants to reduce taxes and does not want to cut spending. Ergo, you might think, that means that, other things equal, we will have to borrow more. This sort of “orthodoxy” is well worth hanging on to.
Part of the Government’s response has been that with our debt ratio still low by international standards, we could readily afford to borrow more. The other part was that other things aren’t equal. Supposedly, tax cuts will pay for themselves.
History repeating itself? Or ‘somebody that nobody has ever heard of’?
Crispin Blunt quit the frontbench back in 2003 in an attempt to force the resignation of then-leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.
He was the first Tory MP to publicly speak out against Sir Iain – who would end up losing a confidence vote in his leadership six months later.
Mr Blunt, who would later row back on his comments, had said he was “not making the necessary impact” to ensure election success.
But Sir Iain said at the time: “It is about time that we looked at the people who do this and say they are irrelevant because they do not represent the party. Crispin Blunt is somebody that nobody has ever heard of outside of the process.
“He’s made his position clear, he’s disgruntled, you get that in all political parties. Political parties have divisions where people disagree but we shouldn’t centre on one junior member of the front bench.”
‘The trashing of Truss’s mini-Budget is an economic tragedy’
The “mini-Budget” policies which cost the Chancellor his job were mainstream and entirely reasonable, writes Liam Halligan.
The financial and political meltdown of recent weeks has seen Kwasi Kwarteng’s proposals dubbed “radical”, “libertarian” – even “grossly irresponsible”. But that’s demonstrably untrue.
Back in September, the then-Chancellor proposed lowering the top rate of income tax from 45 per cent to 40 per cent – the level it was for almost the entire period New Labour was in office under Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown, hardly “libertarian” prime ministers.
Let’s see what happens in coming days, urges Andrew Mitchell
Andrew Mitchell has said we must “see what happens” in the coming days when asked about Liz Truss’s
Mr Mitchell, a former cabinet minister, told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend: “The Conservative parliamentary party has always shown itself clear and indeed ruthless in making changes if required, and 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.”
Asked about the chances of Ms Truss leading the Tories at the next election, he said: “I think that we’ve got to see what happens in the next few days. But as I say if she cannot do the job, if that’s the determination of the parliamentary party, then I’m afraid she will go.”
Watch: ‘The game is up’, Crispin Blunt tells Liz Truss
‘You need a lie down!’
Leaked WhatsApp messages earlier this week showed a major row between Crispin Blunt – the first Tory to publicly tell Liz Truss to quit – and Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, in a group chat of MPs.
In the texts, shared by Sky News’s Sam Coates, Mr Blunt accused Ms Truss of “throwing your closest colleague under the bus” shortly after she sacked Kwasi Kwarteng from the Treasury.
“Followed by a general election?” Ms Dorries wrote. “I love you, Crispin, but if you seriously think we can impose another leader without one, that the media and the people would allow that, you need a lie down!”
Working-age benefit claims surge by nearly a quarter since Covid pandemic
The number of people claiming working-age benefits has increased by almost a quarter since the start of the Covid pandemic, according to an analysis.
A report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) estimated that the bill for working-age benefits has risen by £13 billion a year as a result of a 1.6 million increase in claimants of benefits for people under the state pension age.
The analysis comes as Liz Truss seeks to find ways to control public spending. Tory MPs and several presenters of the Cabinet have already fired warning shots over the Prime Minister’s desire to increase benefits in line with average earnings rather than inflation of above 10 per cent.
Analysis: A call for Truss to go ‘now’ was a matter of time
The mood among Tory MPs has been mutinous in the last week. Privately, many have called on Liz Truss to resign, or consider her position untenable.
But no one had gone public with such a demand until today. Crispin Blunt, the MP for Reigate, is a backbencher who will step aside at the next election, and so has less ‘skin in the game’. He will call for Ms Truss to leave office on the Andrew Neil Show on Channel 4 tonight.
Some Rishi Sunak backers were pacified by the appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Ms Truss’s Chancellor after the sacking of Kwasi Kwarteng. Senior MPs Mark Harper and Julian Sturdy both pointed to October 31, the date of the Medium-Term Fiscal Plan, as a crucial one.
Will Mr Blunt’s call remain an isolated demand, or open the floodgates? This could well be a significant turning point – or the start of a protracted battle over the future of the Prime Minister and the party.
Breaking: First Tory MP calls for Liz Truss to quit
A Tory MP has become the first to demand Liz Truss’s resignation – and “now”.
Crispin Blunt, the MP for Reigate for the past 25 years, will demand she leaves office when he appears on the Andrew Neil Show tonight, according to Channel 4’s head of news Louisa Compton.
More as we have it.
Julian Sturdy: All eyes on mini-Budget now
Replacing Kwasi Kwarteng with Jeremy Hunt has “bought [Liz Truss] some more time”, a senior Tory MP has said.
Julian Sturdy, who backed Rishi Sunak, told Politics North (Yorkshire): “October 31 is going to be a big day now. I’m obviously pleased with the change, I think it was needed, and I think Jeremy Hunt is a really good appointment.
“He’s going to bring experience to it which is what we need. Sometimes a policy change isn’t enough, sometimes the personnel needs to change and I’m really pleased that that has happened.
“I backed Rishi, I backed him because I know him very well, I know he had the experience I believe was needed for the job. But obviously Rishi didn’t win and the party chose Liz Truss and we’ve got to get behind her. At the moment Liz is in position and we have to support her.”
Tory MP asks: Do we rip the plaster off?
Liz Truss is “in office but not in power”, a former minister has told his regional TV station.
Speaking to BBC Politics Midlands, Mark Garnier – who backed Rishi Sunak – said: “The question is do we give her a chance or do we rip the plaster off?
“The really important question we’ve all got to ask ourselves I think as a party, and this includes our activists and our councillors for next May, is: do we feel confident that we should be going into the next election – or indeed local elections – with Liz Truss as the leader?”
‘Britain can’t live in a fantasy land’
Stability, stability, stability. That’s the only show in town now, writes Janet Daley. If growth was – in fact, according to the prime minister at that very brief press conference, still is – the ultimate objective, it must be put on hold for the moment. Because what we got from her stimulus measures was not revitalisation but a life-threatening collapse.
That’s what happens when you wake a patient from a coma too quickly. The Government was clearly hoping that the shock of that adrenaline infusion would propel the country into a new era of expansion and confidence.
The attempt to redress the horrendous increase in taxation levels that had been perpetrated by successive governments was intended to be a liberation. But the economy had become addicted to its favourite opioids and was now too deranged by the threat of their withdrawal to welcome the opportunity.
Just as a huge cohort of the population had become accustomed to the idea that they did not need to work because the government had paid them to stay at home for two years, so the markets had come to rely on the endless supply of phoney money and interest-free debt that all Western governments have been churning out since 2008.
Calm down and unite behind Truss, urges Fabricant
Michael Fabricant warned his Tory backbench colleagues to “calm down” and “stop plotting” amid speculation some Tories are working behind the scenes to overthrow Liz Truss.
“The electorate do not vote for turbulent and divided political parties,” Mr Fabricant, the MP for Lichfield, wrote on Twitter.
“If some of my colleagues don’t calm down, stop plotting, and respect the will of the Party Presenters, we will lose.”
‘My constituents are frightened’
Speaking to Times Radio, Tory education select committee chairman Robert Halfon appeared to urge the public to judge Liz Truss’s Government – but acknowledged there would be a “bloodbath” if an election were to be held now.
On the mini-Budget and recent market turmoil, he said: “We’ve all been let down, this isn’t what we voted for. My constituents are frightened – we have done that, the Government has done that to these people.”
Robert Halfon: I had to speak my mind at 1922
Robert Halfon said he “had to tell the Prime Minister what I thought” when he challenged Liz Truss at the 1922 Committee on Wednesday.
“I don’t think that she got just how badly the public feel the Government have been over the past few weeks,” Mr Halfon told Times Radio.
“I’m not against tax cuts, I’ve fought all my time as an MP to cut fuel duty… It’s not a kind of conservatism that I believe in. We were elected on the 2019 general election manifesto.”
Watch: Jeremy Hunt ‘not taking anything off the table’
Shadow business secretary: No return to austerity under Labour
Austerity caused Britain “enormous problems”, the shadow business secretary said.
“Look at the state of the health service, look at the state of education services,” Jonathan Reynolds told Times Radio.
He insisted the “only way sensible decisions can be made” was to wait for the full assessment of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
Alicia Kearns urges ‘fundamental reset’
Asked if she thinks Liz Truss should stay on as Prime Minister, Alicia Kearns – the new chairman of the foreign affairs committee – said it is a “very difficult one”.
“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 in our ability to continue to govern as a party in our ability to stay united. It’s an incredibly difficult one.
“And, ultimately, I need to listen to colleagues and speak to colleagues in the coming days. But do we need a fundamental reset? Without question.”
Jeremy Hunt: Growth can only come from stability
It is an honour of a lifetime to have been asked by the Prime Minister to return to public service, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, writes Jeremy Hunt.
We fundamentally agree on the big task facing the country. If we want to put money into brilliant public services like the NHS, and keep taxes low, we’ve got to find a way of turbocharging growth.
At the same time, I understand that families across this country are finding life extremely tough right now. Worries about rising mortgage costs and energy bills have left people with an overwhelming desire for stability.
That is what the country wants and deserves. And that is our priority to deliver: economic growth built on the foundation of stability.
‘I want us to be a competent Government’
Asked about party disunity and some of the barbs in the Sunday newspaper long reads, the Financial Secretary said : “I don’t agree with any kind of briefing, to be quite honest.”
Andrew Griffith, a member of the 2019 intake of Tory MPs, said he was “fairly new to this world” and motivated by “public service”.
“I want us to be a competent Government,” he told Times Radio, suggesting Labour would seek a return to the European Union.
‘Calm and stability’ require lots of work, says Financial Secretary
The Financial Secretary said he and Jeremy Hunt are “keen to get on with the job”.
“It’s not been the easiest week for everybody and no one would say things have gone as everyone would hope,” Andrew Griffith told Times Radio in the past few moments.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to put calm and stability back in its place.”
The last thing the public wants is “more people in Westminster talking about what they want, more disunity… that is how to fail. I think colleagues will get behind the new team now.”
Stop ‘slagging off’ OBR and Bank of England, Hancock warns Truss
Matt Hancock urged Liz Truss to announce a reshuffle and bring all wings of the Conservative party into her Cabinet.
“She needs to bring the broad [party] into her Government – she took the decision, which was respectable but high-risk, to only put in people who had voted for her,” Mr Hancock told the BBC. “That’s only a third of the Conservative party in Parliament.
“There’s a huge amount of talent on the backbenches, I’m not talking about me but there are many others who should be brought into Government.”
He also called for Ms Truss to set out “credible” economic plans and stop “slagging off the institutions that are the bedrock of prosperity”, including the Office for Budget Responsibility, the IMF and the Bank of England.
“You just can’t go around saying that they’ve all got it wrong.”
Labour: We can’t do everything as quickly as we’d like
The shadow business secretary admitted “we can’t do everything as quickly as we would like” due to the “damage” done to the economy by the Conservatives.
Jonathan Reynolds denied Sir Keir Starmer would oversee a “return to austerity” but emphasised the courts backlog and GP waiting times “cannot be resolved overnight”.
Jonathan Reynolds: I need to know ‘scale of damage’ before making policy
Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, said he needed to know “what the scale of damage” was before deciding how Labour would the economic black hole.
Mr Reynolds insisted his party was “absolutely committed” to the fiscal rules that have been set out by Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor.
“We’re not going to borrow for tax cuts,” he told Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. “We will have to see what they bring forward, we honestly don’t know what will happen, we have to see what the OBR has said.”
He said Sir Keir Starmer’s support for an income tax cut was subject to the OBR forecast, and articulated before the Government had set the economy “on fire”.
Liz Truss clings to the lifeboat – but No 11 holds the oars
On Friday afternoon, Liz Truss unveiled as her Chancellor a former leadership rival who she said shared her “convictions and ambitions for our country”, write Edward Malnick and Will Hazell.
Now, as the Prime Minister prepares to hold talks with Jeremy Hunt at Chequers, having heard him effectively ripping up some of her key plans in a series of live broadcast interviews, she may be forgiven for having a tinge of buyer’s remorse.
Within hours of his appointment Mr Hunt appeared to be tearing up swathes of Ms Truss’s agenda – far beyond the decision she announced on Friday to revive Mr Sunak’s planned increase in corporation tax.
In the view of many MPs, her position is now untenable – only 40 days after entering Downing Street and before she had even had a chance to unpack all of the boxes shipped from her Greenwich home.
Andrew Griffith ‘understands the worry’ of Tory rebels
Asked about mutinous Tory MPs trying to oust the Prime Minister, Andrew Griffith said he “understands the worry of colleagues” who are “trying to do their best for their constituents”, writes Camilla Turner.
However, he urged them to unite and “get behind” Liz Truss’s leadership, adding: “If we want to be taken seriously as a party, seriously in the country, we have to unite.
“There is a war on European soil. People are facing a really difficult cost of living challenge and they’re really worried. So they don’t want to hear disunity from the Conservative Party.
“They don’t want to hear about another leadership campaign. We saw the damage, frankly, that that did this summer. They want us to unite, be serious and get back to work and do what we’ve got to do over the next couple of weeks.”
Financial Secretary: There are things we all regret
Andrew Griffith, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that there are things “everyone in Government” regrets in the past seven days, writes Camilla Turner, our Chief Political Correspondent.
He used the interview to urge colleagues to “get behind the PM” and insisted that Liz Truss does have the support of the party.
Asked whether he could commit to a three per cent increase in defence spending, he said: “There are no commitments that I can make at 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning.”
‘Difficult decisions’ will affect ‘lots of walks of life’
Liz Truss’s initial policies “haven’t worked as planned”, Jeremy Hunt told Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.
Why would viewers take Conservative pledges of stability seriously, he is asked.
“Politicians can’t control markets and I think it’s very dangerous when they try to do that. What we can do is speak with total candour about very difficult decisions. I want people to know that we are going to make those difficult decisions in lots of areas, they’re going to affect lots of walks of life.”
Would he run again? “I think having run two leadership campaigns, and by the way failed in both of them, the desire to be leader has been clinically excised from me. I want to be a good Chancellor, it’s going to be very difficult.”
He pledges to be an “honest chancellor… I don’t say [the opposite] at all about my predecessor. He tried to do some bold things, some of them didn’t work out. I think above all what people want is candour.”
Who’s really in charge?
“The Prime Minister’s in charge,” Jeremy Hunt insisted. “I think it’s important when you talk about ditching things, the biggest element of that mini-Budget was the energy price guarantee where people’s bills were heading towards £6,500 on many occasions.
“She has changed the way we get there, she hasn’t changed the destination which is to get the economy growing.
“She was right to recognise with the international situation, with the market situation, that change was necessary.”
On private Tory concerns about the point of Liz Truss, Mr Hunt tells colleagues: “When I talk to my constituents in South West Surrey, what they want is stability and the worst thing for that would be more change at the top, another protracted leadership contest.
“The second thing I’d say is when it comes to a General Election, the public give their verdict on this Government, they will judge us much more on what happens in the next 18 months than the last 18 days. I think she’s been under extraordinary pressure, I know how difficult that job is having seen many prime ministers at close range in the last few years. I would rather a Prime Minister who recognises when to take difficult decisions.”
Why can anyone trust the Tories, Hunt asked
Jeremy Hunt noted Liz Truss had been Prime Minister for less than five weeks and insisted he was “honoured” he could serve as her Chancellor.
“Economic growth is the key thing that we need, unlocking that paradox… She’s listened. She’s changed, she’s been willing to do that most difficult thing in politics which is to change tack.
“And there’s a second reason as well. You say it’s milk and honey to talk about wanting economic growth. We’re going to show not just what we want but how we’re going to get it… the practical things Conservatives understand can make a real difference.
“We are going to go through the whole growth agenda.”
‘I’m not taking anything off the table’
Jeremy Hunt refused to rule out further U-turns – including reversing tax cuts.
“I’m not taking anything off the table. I want to take as many of those tax cuts as we possibly can. Our long-term health depends on being a low-tax economy.”
On whether this was a return to austerity, he said: “I was in the Cabinet in 2010 when we had that first period of austerity. I don’t think we’re going to have anything like that that time.
“First of all when it comes to people’s mortgages, obviously a huge worry, interest rates are going up around the world because of what’s going on in Ukraine. If I take the difficult decisions that I am talking about, that is the best possible way to stop interest rates going higher than they absolutely need to because of these global factors.
“For people who are on the breadline finding life extremely difficult, to those people I want them to know this is a compassionate Conservative government.”
Jeremy Hunt: We’ll give certainty to markets
Jeremy Hunt insisted he would “show the markets, the world, indeed people watching at home that we can properly account for every penny of our tax and spending plans”.
Mortgage holders will want to “know that we’re giving that certainty to the markets, and that’s really the most important thing to do in the next two weeks”.
Pressed on why he can calm everything down, Mr Hunt said: “I think for people trading in markets, actions speak louder than words.
“The Prime Minister has changed her Chancellor. We are going to have a very big fiscal statement a big like a Budget in which we set out the tax and spending plans for many years ahead and that is going to be independently analysed by the Office for Budget Responsibility.”
Who’s really in charge?
Jeremy Hunt says he had been “pretty happy on the backbenches” but had to be “realistic” with the public.
“The one thing I want to reassure families who are worried at home is the lens through which we’re going to do this is as a compassionate Conservative government.”
‘Things going in right direction’ under Jeremy Hunt
Matt Hancock said there were “happy signs things are going in the right direction” with the appointment of Jeremy Hunt.
“What is absolutely critical is to get that credible economic plan in place. That’s the bread and butter of conservatism is to have credible economic plans, because what we want to do is improve the life chances of people across the country.”
He urged the Tories to start “coming together and having that unity as a party”, and insisted he would not call for Liz Truss should resign.
Matt Hancock takes aim at ‘uncosted and unfunded’ mini-Budget
Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s “uncosted and unfunded” policies were “never going to work”, Matt Hancock has said.
“I’m very glad the Government is now committed to the kind of systematic discipline that is absolutely necessary,” the former health secretary told Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.
“We can set aside this idea once and for all that we can go for unfunded policies and that they might work.”
The Government has “looked like libertarian jihadists” in the past few weeks, the Tory chairman of the education select committee has said.
Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow, said Liz Truss had “treated the whole country as laboratory mice in which to carry out ultra, ultra free market experiments”.
“This is not where the country is,” he told Sophy Ridge on Sunday. “It’s been one horror story after another. It’s not just about tax cuts for the rich, it’s about benefit cuts, cuts to public services. This is not what the public wants.
“I really believe that the Prime Minister, given everything that has gone on, needs to do a fireside chat to the British people, apologise for what has gone on and set out a vision for compassionate conservatism with social justice at its heart.”
Joe Biden hits out at Liz Truss
Joe Biden appeared to add to criticism of Liz Truss’s mini-Budget overnight.
The US president told reporters reporters: “I wasn’t the only one that thought it was a mistake” and said the subsequent about-turns were “predictable”.
He added although while he disagreed with her plan, it was “up to Britain”.
Mr Biden also dismissed concerns about the strength of the dollar, adding: “The problem is the lack of economic growth and sound policy in other countries.”
Dominic Penna here, the Telegraph’s Political Reporter guiding you through what looks set to be another eventful day.
Jeremy Hunt, the new Chancellor, will appear on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show this morning as he comes under pressure to defend a series of screeching U-turns.
Mr Hunt, who was not in the job 48 hours ago, was preparing to delay Liz Truss’s 1p cut to income tax last night.