17/10/2022 (ivorycoasttribune.com) It was a day of drama and mockeries directed at tory leader Liz Truss. Just under a month in her job, she was forced to sack her chancellor over a "reckless" mini-budget responsible for turmoils in the financial market. After Kwasi kwarteng was made the scapegoat of a government on a run, the clock is now ticking for the third female Prime Minister in British history.
The Prime Minister sent new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt out to face the media after drawing up a £32bn reversal of her mini-Budget.
She then sent Penny Mordaunt, a possible candidate to replace her, to answer questions in Parliament from Keir Starmer. Ms Mordaunt repeatedly declined to say where the Prime Minister was, repeatedly stressing there was a "genuine reason".
But Ms Truss then bizarrely entered the chamber - only to sit behind Ms Mordaunt and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, without saying a word. She spent just 29 minutes silently in the chamber before leaving to shouts of “she’s gone!” and “shocking!” from opposition MPs.
Leader of the Commons Ms Mordaunt had earlier prompted jeers and shouts of "where is she?" when she said: “The PM is detained on urgent business”.
Barraged by questions she was forced to insist there "has not been a coup" adding: "The Prime Minister is not under a desk!"
Labour MP Stephanie Peacock joked that the Prime Minister was "on the way to the palace" - implying she could be resigning.
A Downing Street source said Liz Truss had been in "wall-to-wall meetings" with Cabinet colleagues and officials.
Keir Starmer blasted the "grotesque chaos" of the government adding: “I guess under this Tory government, everybody gets to be Prime Minister for 15 minutes.”
He added: "It's time for leaders to lead. But where is the Prime Minister? Hiding away, dodging questions, scared of her own shadow. The lady is not for turning - up."
In a blistering attack, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: "They've set fire to everything, and now they insist it's all fine. An arsonist is still an arsonist even if he runs back into a burning building with a bucket of water."
Tory MPs sat stony-faced while Rachel Reeves was speaking, many with folded arms. Sajid Javid leaned forward, arms resting on his knees, while Chris Grayling repeatedly buried most of his face in both hands.
A fresh poll tonight by Redfield and Wilton Strategies gave Labour a staggering 36-point lead - with Labour at 56% and the Tories at just 20%. The firm said it was the largest lead for any party with any polling company since October 1997.
"The Prime Minister's position is enormously precarious. When you are in this sort of position I think you have got to expect the party won't tolerate for any length of time - certainly not weeks."
The Conservative Party’s worst defeat in the last century was the 165 seats it won in 1997.
But in a poll of polls over the weekend, the Electoral Calculus website estimated the Tories would win just 48 seats if an election was tomorrow - with the SNP winning 52. Labour would win 507 seats according to the “advanced modelling” of opinion polls of 11,358 people, giving the party a 364-seat majority.
On Friday Ms Truss refused to apologise or resign in a bizarre press conference lasting just nine minutes after sacking her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.
This morning her new Chancellor junked most of what was left of her mini-Budget - including a 1p income tax cut - and slashed energy bills help for millions of families. Her only public statement by lunchtime was a retweet of his video with words including: "The British people rightly want stability... We have taken action to chart a new course for growth."
Ms Truss spoke to her Cabinet this morning by phone and was expected to address the One Nation group of centre-right Tories at 6 pm.
She will then have what No10 called a "reception" with her Cabinet - but not a full meeting - as scores more MPs call privately for her to go.
She let Mr Hunt give all public-facing statements including a broadcast to the nation, a statement to Parliament, and interviews with TV journalists later tonight.
Tory MP Sir Roger Gale said: “I think Jeremy Hunt is de facto Prime Minister at the moment. There is real power in Downing Street - but it’s not in No10, it’s in No11.” Only four MPs had publicly called for Liz Truss to resign by this lunchtime.
But 41 days after she took office, scores more are considering their next move and privately plotting against her.
She technically cannot be ousted until September 2023 - but MPs could change the rules.
Some are plotting this week while others could wait until the October 31 fiscal statement - which is set to announce a fresh wave of public spending cuts.
Asked where the PM was hiding, her spokesman told journalists: “The Prime Minister is holding a series of meetings and she's just held a political cabinet this morning.”
Asked if she’d resign, he replied: “She's working very closely with the Chancellor… As she said on Friday she is focused on delivery.”
Millions of homeowners have had hundreds of pounds a month added to their mortgages after financial turmoil in the wake of the mini-Budget.
Interest rates surged and the pound fell against the dollar after sacked Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced £72bn of borrowing to fund tax cuts - backed fully by Ms Truss. In one of the biggest U-turns in political history, Jeremy Hunt junked almost all measures from the mini-Budget - including £2bn changes to the IR35 tax rules for self-employed people, a £1bn cut in dividend tax, £2bn VAT-free shopping for visitors to the UK, and a £600m freeze on alcohol duty.
And he is scrapping plans to cut Income Tax from 20p to 19p in every pound next April. Income Tax might not even be cut in 2024 - as the Tories promised. Instead, it will remain at 20% "indefinitely until economic circumstances allow it to be cut", saving £6bn a year.
Only a few major announcements - a cut to Stamp Duty, a cut to National Insurance from April and a £1m annual investment allowance - will still take effect. And wealthy bankers will still get unlimited bonuses under plans to scrap a cap on their payouts.
In the most staggering change, Liz Truss will tear up her Energy Prices Guarantee - that would have capped the average household's bill at around £2,500 a year for two years until October 2024.
Now, it will only apply to April 2023. Beyond that point, the government will design a new energy package that will "cost the taxpayer significantly less" and focus on the most vulnerable.
Mr Hunt said all the changes will save the public purse £32billion a year - excluding the energy prices U-turn.
Meanwhile, No10 confirmed Whitehall departments will be asked to “look again” at what spending they can cut in the October 31 statement.
Institute for Fiscal Studies director Paul Johnson said: "Jeremy Hunt will still have to make some scary decisions on tax and spend this Halloween and it remains hard to see where significant spending cuts could come from".
The Resolution Foundation think tank said the latest mini-budget U-turns mean the size of the tax cuts for the typical British household next year have been slashed from £500 to £290, and from £5,380 to £1,650 for the richest 10% of households.
"Having promised to reduce taxes, the Government is now setting taxes on course to rise as a share of GDP to around 36% by the end of the Parliament - up from 33% at the start," according to the Resolution Foundation.