Starmer’s message to PM: What’s the plan, Liz?
Sir Keir Starmer is demanding Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers a statement in parliament on Monday explaining how she intends to restore stability and continue in office.
The Labour leader said Ms Truss needs to provide some reassurance to the country following a brutal weekend of political turmoil which saw a change of Chancellor and a campaign gather to force her out of Downing Street.
“The Prime Minister says she is in charge but the evidence this weekend suggests she is in office but not in power,” said Sir Keir.
His comments came after new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt effectively tore up the Prime Minister’s growth plan and reversed more of her tax-cutting plans, despite insisting Ms Truss remained in charge.
His actions prompted more Tory backbenchers to call for Ms Truss to step aside. Crispin Blunt, Andrew Bridgen and Jamie Wallis demanded the Prime Minister resign, while other senior figures within the parliamentary party expressed deep unease with her leadership, but stopped short of calling for her to go.
Mr Blunt told Channel 4’s Andrew Neil Show: “I think the game is up and it’s now a question as to how the succession is managed.”
Tensions heightened following an awkward press conference on Friday at which the Prime Minister was expected to provide some calm following the sacking of Kwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor. Instead, her underwhelming statement and robotic responses to just four questions from journalists infuriated her own MPs.
Sir Keir added: “Friday’s press conference completely failed to answer any of the questions the public has. 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.”
US president Joe Biden called Ms Truss’s original economic policies “a mistake”. In an unusual intervention, he said the economic turmoil that followed the government’s mini-budget had been “predictable”.
Former Tory minister Liam Fox called the current situation the “deepest political hole that we have experienced in a generation”.
He also criticised the sacking of Kwasi Kwarteng, calling it “one of the most cynical and disgraceful moves in recent political history”.
Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “I’m not even sure what this Government’s economic policy is at the moment. I don’t know which bits of the budget still apply, and I don’t know what we will hear next week.”
Attention will turn to how the markets react to a weekend of revolving doors and behind-the-scenes plotting.
In Asia the pound opened higher against the dollar, to trade at over $1.12.
Mr Kwarteng’s downfall, after just 38 days in the job, not only pushed the pound to almost parity with the dollar, but sent the cost of government borrowing and mortgage rates up and led to emergency intervention by the Bank of England.