Leader - Tories must choose to back or sack Truss
In Birmingham this week, Liz Truss ought to be basking in the warm glow of goodwill from party members looking to unite behind a new leader and put the divisions of the Boris Johnson era and a bitter leadership contest behind them.
Instead both the party and the country are still reeling from the fallout of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget of September 23.
In a television interview yesterday, Ms Truss conceded she could have done more to prepare the ground for the financial statement, which spooked the markets, sent the pound into freefall, and forced a £65 billion intervention by the Bank of England.
All of this could have been predicted. In fact, it was predicted by her rival for the party leadership, former chancellor Rishi Sunak.
On August 21, a spokesperson for Mr Sunak said: “Truss cannot deliver a support package as well as come good on £50bn worth of unfunded, permanent tax cuts in one go. To do so would mean increasing borrowing to historic and dangerous levels, putting the public finances in serious jeopardy and plunging the economy into an inflation spiral.”
Ms Truss must, like Mr Kwarteng, be banking on the markets continuing to recover and the fact that, as the Chancellor will tell delegates today, other major currencies are “wrestling an incredibly strong US dollar”.
Otherwise the voices of dissent from within her own party will only grow louder.
Former Cabinet minister Michael Gove indicated yesterday he will vote against the package of measures. Many of his colleagues may decide to follow suit.
If the Prime Minister fails to get her mini-budget through Parliament, Ms Truss will come under intense pressure to resign.
If she refuses to do that, Tory MPs, perhaps led by disgruntled senior figures such as Mr Gove banished to the backbenches, may soon find a way to force her from office.
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