Liz Truss has warned Tory rebels who have called on her to abandon her controversial tax cut program that she will not change course, telling them the “status quo is not an option”.
The prime minister rejected calls to fire the chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng after the chaos caused by his mini-budget, insisting he is doing a “great job” despite the turmoil in financial markets caused by his mini-budget.
She arrived in Birmingham at the beginning of the anniversary Conservative Party conference, as another opinion poll showed Work by a wide margin from the Tories.
The poll by Opinium showed Labor at 46%, 19 points ahead of the Conservatives on 27%. On the economy, it found that the Tories’ one-point advantage a week ago had become Labour’s 19-point advantage.
It comes after a tumultuous week that saw the pound fall to a record low against the dollar and the Bank of England intervened to prevent the pensions industry collapsing as a result of Mr Kwarteng’s package of unwarranted £45 billion tax cuts.
With some Tory MPs suggesting she might not last until the end of the year, Sir Keir Starmer sought to tap into discontent in Conservative ranks by calling on the rebels to work with Labor to defeat the government’s tax plans in the House of Commons.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the Labor leader said it was “unacceptable” that neither the country nor parliament had any say on the measures despite the chaos caused by the financial markets.
“Economics is not a laboratory experiment for the maddest scientists in the Conservative Party. Mortgages, pensions and family finances are not casino chips for a dogma-intoxicated government,” he said.
“There are plenty of decent Conservative MPs who know that. My message to them is that Labor will work with anyone to ensure that some semblance of economic sanity is restored.”
But in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, the Prime Minister said she stood her ground and that tax cuts were necessary to get the economy back on track.
“Change is always something that can make people anxious. But what I am fundamentally saying is that we have to change and the status quo is not an option,” she said.
“We cannot continue on the current trajectory of managed decline. . . . We must take a new direction.”
Mr. Kwarteng admitted that he was surprised by the reaction of the financial markets to his mini-budget.
He told The Mail on Sunday that it had been put together at “very high speed” because of the need to support people with their electricity bills, but that he was “100% convinced” it was the right plan.
“It’s very difficult to actually predict how markets are going to react to anything, and if politicians really knew how to read markets, I think they’d probably be market traders,” he said.
“I think we’re seeing more stability now, and I hope we can build on that.”
Ms Truss said the government’s first supply-side reform, designed to support the growth plan, would extend the small business exemption from firms with up to 250 employees to firms with up to 500 employees.
She said the change would free an extra 40,000 firms from red tape and make it “easier for them to continue their business”.
The Telegraph reported that it is also working to create new “child care agencies” within the French system to reduce childcare costs.
Her intervention came amid reports of letters going to the chairman of the 1922 Conservative backbench, Sir Graham Bradyfrom Tory MPs calling for a vote of no confidence in her.
While under current rules she is protected from a leadership challenge for a year after her election, the 1922 executive has the power to change those rules if demand for a contest becomes overwhelming.
Meanwhile, a number of senior figures – including Ms Truss’ defeated challenger Rishi Sunak and former cabinet ministers Priti Patel, Sajid Javid and David Davis – are reportedly staying away from the conference.
South Suffolk MP James Cartledge became the latest backbencher to criticize the chancellor’s plans, saying that while changes were needed, cutting the benefits of tax cuts for the highest earners amid a cost of living crisis was “unacceptable”.
“This does not mean that, having lost market support for proposed unfunded tax measures, we are trying to win that support back with drastic cuts to benefits when the cost of food and staples soars. , while keeping tax cuts for the wealthiest,” he tweeted.
However, former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who backed Rishi Sunak for leader, said Ms Truss needed to be given a good chance for her plan to work.
“Obviously it’s been a very shaky week. But we have to let things settle down. And I think it’s time to judge,” he told GB News.