Labor has called for Liz Truss to face parliament today after three Tory MPs broke ranks to demand that she quits.
The prime minister is facing calls to resign from within her own party just six weeks after entering Number 10, following the economic turmoil in the wake of the mini-budget.
Tory MPs Crispin Blunt, Andrew Bridgen and Jamie Wallis have all publicly stated they believe she should resign, as Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Ms Truss of being “in office but not in power”.
The Daily Mail reported that Tory MPs will try to oust Ms Truss this week, with more than 100 ready to submit letters of no confidence.
It comes after the PM dramatically ditched a major chunk of the mini-budget and sacked Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor, replacing him with Jeremy Hunt, in a bid to restore credibility.
The new chancellor has signaled that the country could be facing a package of tax rises and spending cuts, in a move that would make a complete reversal of Ms Truss’s promised economic vision.
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Friday saw Ms Truss give a brief news conference to explain her latest U-turn, but Sir Keir said it “completely failed to answer any of the questions the public has”.
He said: “Mortgages are rising and the cost of living crisis is being felt ever more acutely. The Conservative government is currently the biggest threat to the security and the finances of families across the country.
“That’s why the prime minister must come to parliament on Monday, to explain what she plans to do to turn the situation around.
“If the prime minister won’t take questions from journalists, Liz Truss must at least take them from MPs representing the families whose livelihoods she’s putting at risk.”
MPs believe it is simply not sustainable for Truss to remain as PM
I was told by a cabinet source Liz Truss had no option but to sack Kwasi Kwarteng because it was made clear to her he’d lost the confidence of markets and her only hope of steadying the ship was removing him.
But what follows from that is obvious: as a second cabinet source put it to me over weekend, what the markets do it coming few days will be critical for Truss too.
The firewall provided by the chancellor is now burnt through and if there’s no improvement, the signal will be that the is problem is her.
Politically the view settling amongst MPs is that it’s simply not sustainable for her to remain as prime minister.
All eyes are now on Sir Graham Brady, the only person who knows when a leadership election has been triggered, to see what he does. Party rules say Truss has a year’s grace, but they can change the rules.
But there’s also a view, shared by some Truss rivals and backers alike, that the PM has bought a bit of time.
As one cabinet minister told me: “Despite the hysteria, the reality is we need to calm down, let Liz decide her new priorities and Jeremy deliver his budget. Nothing will be gained in the next 14 days by more fratricide.”
But the point is, as Conservative Home’s Paul Goodman put it, it’s over for Liz Truss whether she’s pushed out or not.
Her economic project is finished and her authority is gone. And that makes if very hard to see how she can lead the party into a general election.
I’ll be watching the markets and Sir Graham very closely on Monday.
If the prime minister does not agree to make a statement later, Labor could try to force her to come to the Commons.
‘The game is up’
Ms Truss and the new chancellor met in Checkers on Sunday, as the pair begin work on what will effectively be a new budget on 31 October.
But Mr Blunt, who was the first Tory MP to publicly call for Ms Truss to resign, said “the game is up” for the prime minister.
He told Sky News it was “blindingly obvious” that Ms Truss had to go and backed former chancellor Rishi Sunak to replace her.
“The main emotions of people watching her, doing her best to present, is some combination of pity, contempt or anger,” he said.
“I’m afraid it just won’t wash and we need to make a change.”
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Tory MP Andrew Bridgen also called for Ms Truss to quit as PM, saying “our country, its people and our party deserve better”.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Jamie Wallis tweeted: “In recent weeks, I have watched as the government has undermined Britain’s economic credibility and fractured our party irreparably. Enough is enough.
“I have written to the prime minister to ask her to stand down as she no longer holds the confidence of this country.”
However Ms Truss received the backing of her former leadership rival Penny Mordaunt who said the “country needs stability, not a soap opera”.
Writing in the Telegraph, the leader of the Commons told her colleagues that the “national mission” is clear but said it “needs pragmatism and teamwork.”
“It needs us to work with the prime minister and her new chancellor. It needs all of us,” she wrote.
Could Tory Party change rules to oust Truss?
Asked how the party could get rid of Ms Truss, Mr Blunt, who is standing down at the next election, said: “If there is such a weight of opinion in the parliamentary party that we have to have a change, then it will be effected.”
The former justice minister later added: “If the issue does have to be forced, a way can be found to force it.”
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Under current Conservative Party rules, a confidence vote in a leader cannot take place until they have been in power for at least a year, so she is theoretically safe until next September.
However, there has been talk among MPs of the powerful 1922 backbench committee of Tory MPs of changing the rules to reduce that buffer period.
If enough MPs submit no confidence letters in the PM, then the 1922 executive may have little choice but to change them.
The committee’s treasurer, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, told Sky News the rules would only be changed if “an overwhelming majority of the party wish us to do that”.
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries said bypassing the rules in a bid to remove Ms Truss would make the system a “laughing stock.”
She tweeted: “The ’22 rules were put in place to act as a barrier against the regicidal nature of Conservative MPs.
“What is the point of the ’22 committee if the rules mean absolutely nothing?
“It’s a laughing stock and not fit for purpose if it makes it up as it goes along!”
Former chancellor George Osborne has predicted Ms Truss is unlikely to still be in Downing Street by Christmas.
He called her a “PINO – prime minister in name only” and said Ms Truss is “hiding in Number 10” as pressure mounts.
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