Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Conservatives
29 September 2022

The first stirrings of rebellion against Liz Truss

The riotous market response to the mini-Budget has, for some Tory MPs, destroyed the PM’s authority as party leader.

By Freddie Hayward

Liz Truss is in peril. The start of her premiership has included a ten-day period of national mourning, an inconsequential trip to the UN, and an exodus of confidence in the British economy. Her polling has tanked. Her chances of winning the next general election have shrunk. Honeymoon became treacle doom.

That does not mean a fifth Conservative prime minister since 2010 will be walking through the doors of No 10 anytime soon. But dissent among Tory MPs – the ultimate check on any party leader – is growing. One Tory MP told me yesterday that “it’s unsustainable for [Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng] to stay in place in the medium to long term”.

Another said they’d spoken to multiple colleagues who had sent letters of no confidence to the leader of the 1922 Committee. Interestingly, this Rishi Sunak supporter thought his former favourite was no longer in the running and Boris Johnson was the natural alternative among Tory MPs. “Johnson is the off-the-shelf solution for lots of people,” they said. A further Conservative MP noted that many of their colleagues will not be attending this year’s party conference, which begins on Sunday in Birmingham.

The root of this dissent is the riotous market response to the government’s mini-Budget last week. Some have queried why the market reacted in this way. Many of the plans were briefed to the papers beforehand and the key unexpected policy – the abolition of the top rate of tax – is only worth around £2bn. But that’s not the point. The point is that the plans were misleading. The government promised growth when there’s no sign its plans will achieve that. Speak to business people ­– those who flocked to Labour conference, for instance – and few want tax cuts. They want three things: certainty, infrastructure and people. As one former cabinet minister put it to me, “it’s a bit of a f**k up. There’s a couple of problems. The first major problem is that [Kwarteng] presented an equation with bits missing, and that was public expenditure.”

The question now is how the Chancellor balances that equation. The Prime Minister this morning on BBC local radio doubled downed on the mini-Budget and blamed global conditions for the economic turmoil. If that’s the plan, then the government need to find a way to reassure the markets, which will have to include a strategy to reduce debt in the long term.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

There’s a sense among MPs that now is not the time to remove the Prime Minister. But Truss’s authority is shot. She will face an unruly parliamentary party when the House of Commons returns on 11 October and the probability that she will lead the party into the next general election has fallen.

Content from our partners
Why public health policy needs to refocus
The five key tech areas for the public sector in 2023
You wouldn’t give your house keys to anyone, so why do that with your computers?

[See also: Liz Truss and the rise of the libertarian right]