Truss says no to spending cuts. Here’s the caveat

The mini-Budget was a spending spree. The ‘medium-term fiscal plan’ was meant to explain the funding. But what exactly is going to be in it?  Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng were thought to have (finally) come to terms with the need to address the need for some restraint, after their mini-Budget led to market chaos which is yet to settle. Their fiscal statement – in other words, how they would fund their tax cuts – was moved forward by almost a month, to 31 October. Its contents were thought to include some major spending cuts, in a bid to convince markets that fiscal discipline still guides the Tory party. If there are

Conor Burns sacked from government

In the past few minutes, Conor Burns has been told to leave the government after a complaint of ‘serious misconduct’ was made against him. Downing Street has released a statement saying:  Following a complaint of serious misconduct, the Prime Minister has asked Conor Burns MP to leave the government with immediate effect. The Prime Minister took direct action on being informed of this allegation and is clear that all ministers should maintain the high standards of behaviour – as the public rightly expects. No. 10’s press release is keen to stress that the Prime Minister took immediate action Burns was moved sideways by Liz Truss in the recent reshuffle, from

Give Liz Truss a chance

Conservative governments have a habit of self-destructing: they die not in battle with political enemies but as a result of vicious infighting. It’s been less than three years since Boris Johnson’s triumphant 80-seat election victory, which seemed at the time to come close to condemning Labour to oblivion. Yet this week in Birmingham it was the Conservatives who have looked doomed, posing a far greater threat to each other than to Keir Starmer. In her conference speech, Liz Truss laid out a confident and coherent agenda. She is correct about the need to harness the power of free enterprise to kickstart growth, but she failed to prepare the ground for

Why Kwarteng’s next fiscal event will have to be brought forward

In a tetchy performance on The Andrew Neil Show, Tory party chair Jake Berry repeatedly insisted that everyone would have to wait until the Chancellor’s unveiling of his fiscal plan on 23 November to find out whether or not there would be spending cuts and when the government believes it will hit its 2.5 per cent growth target. Berry’s performance, which involved repeatedly trying to answer a different question to the one he was asked, made it even harder to believe that this line can hold. If every minister interviewed for the next six weeks sounded like Berry did just now, then it would be a disaster for the government. The sensible

Nick Cohen

The silence that reveals everything about Liz Truss

The moorings that tie the rulers to the ruled are breaking in the UK. You can hear them snapping during the Prime Minister’s silences. On Sunday morning, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg asked Liz Truss a question any democratic leader should be able to answer. Truss and her Chancellor’s folly had sent yields on ten-year guilts up to 4.3 per cent. It had forced the Bank of England to announce an emergency £65 billion bond-buying programme. It had threatened pensions and the finances of mortgage holders. ‘How many people voted for your plan?’ asked Kuenssberg. Silence. A silence long enough for viewers to believe that concerns of democratic legitimacy had not

Why Liz Truss can’t back down

Is there a way for the government to get out of the mess that it is in? This is the question obsessing ministers and Tory MPs. If the government doesn’t set out how it intends to square the circle, it’ll be risking more market mayhem. But as I say in the Times today, it is very hard to see a way out of this that is both politically palatable and economically possible. Nervous Tory MPs are being told by one of Truss’s cabinet allies ‘the solution is to be very tough on public spending’ A rapidly growing number of Tory MPs think the government should abandon or delay the abolition

Truss can’t hide from the crisis she created

For a politician who only a few days ago was bravely mocking Vladimir Putin as a ‘sabre-rattling’ loudmouth ‘desperately trying to justify his catastrophic failures,’ Liz Truss has turned out to be the greatest coward ever to be prime minister. At least Putin feels the need to justify the catastrophe he has inflicted. Truss and her Chancellor believe they can hide away like children putting pillows over their heads to escape a bad dream, and say nothing at all. The public may not understand the full ramifications of the crisis the Conservatives have unleashed in a moment of ideological delirium. The technical reasons why the Bank of England had to promise

Will Liz Truss take on the IMF?

Tonight the International Monetary Fund has weighed in on the UK’s mini-Budget, offering a direct rebuke of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s tax cuts. ‘We are closely monitoring recent economic developments in the UK and are engaged with the authorities,’ its spokesperson said, in reference to the fluctuating pound and rising borrowing costs. ‘Given elevated inflation pressures in many countries, including the UK, we do not recommend large and untargeted fiscal packages at this juncture’ – suggesting some concern that the measures could be inflationary. The IMF seems more frustrated with the ethics of the policies rather than their economic impact It’s the kind of intervention that does little to

Liz Truss is a liberal. So how will she approach immigration?

Should Tories already be feeling buyer’s remorse over their new leader? It has been only 20 days since Boris Johnson, a liberal who pretended to be a populist, was replaced by Liz Truss, a liberal who doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a liberal. Whereas Johnson’s was a patrician liberalism with a keen sense of public opinion, Truss is an economic liberal with a swot’s enthusiasm and a swot’s grasp of human instincts. In short, the Tories have swapped a lazy dissembler for an ardent geek. It’s not all they’ve swapped. The communitarian shift that began under Theresa May has been set in reverse and libertarianism has regained the

Is Truss in trouble?

The history of political popularity shows things go in one direction: down. John Major entered office with a net satisfaction of +15 and left it having lost 42 points. Blair moved into Downing Street a whopping 60 points in the positive. When he left he’d fallen to -27. And so the story goes – even the Maybot started quite popular with a +35. Where you start can make all the difference. If things are only going to go one way, you want as handsome a margin as possible. That’s why today’s political monitor poll from Ipsos Mori could spell trouble for Truss. She’s beginning her term in office on minus

Truss gets ready to be unpopular

Liz Truss is ready to be unpopular. Or at least that is what the new Prime Minister is keen to suggest. On a media round from New York – where she is attending her first international summit since entering No. 10 – she told the BBC’s Chris Mason: If that means taking difficult decisions which are going to help Britain become more competitive, help Britain become more attractive, help more investment flow into our country, yes, I’m absolutely prepared to make those decisions. ‘Yes, yes I am’, was how she answered Beth Rigby’s question about whether she was prepared to be unpopular. Is this significant? Well, it points to two things. First,

Robert Peston

Truss’s energy bailout is eye-watering

The government will announce tomorrow that it will cover the costs of more than £1 in every £3 of gas consumed by businesses and households over the next six months. There has been no subsidy of a market price on this scale in British history. Estimates of the final bill for taxpayers range from £100 billion to £200 billion, or more than the annual cost of running the NHS – if the scheme for households lasts for two years, as promised, and the separate one for all businesses runs for six months, to be followed by a less ambitious business scheme for another 18 months. This is a subsidy of more

Kate Andrews

How far will Truss’s ‘growth plan’ go?

It was only a few weeks ago that Liz Truss was talking about holding an ‘emergency’ fiscal event towards the end of September, mainly to address rising energy bills and how the government would support people through the winter. This targeted approach helped to justify the speed at which her new government would announce some major policy, and even more importantly was used to justify not commissioning analysis from the Office for Budget Responsibility to go alongside it. Energy bills were too time sensitive for the government to wait for the OBR to run all the numbers and produce forecasts, Team Truss’s argument went. The independent assessment of her plans (which must

Truss chooses price controls to tackle energy bills

When Liz Truss spoke from the steps of Downing Street on Monday, she declared proudly that she ‘campaigned as a conservative’ and would ‘govern as a conservative’. It was a dig at her leadership rival Rishi Sunak, who she beat by 15 percentage points, and who she accused throughout the campaign of having lost his way over tax hikes during his time in the Treasury. He insisted this was the path to fiscal responsibility; she insisted it was the path to recession. Yet Truss’s first policy announcement of her premiership – and quite possibly one of the biggest announcements she’ll make as Prime Minister – is not one you can

Liz Truss should increase Universal Credit

Liz Truss’s plans for a two-year energy bill freeze, estimated to cost £100 billion, underscore three points. One, the incoming Prime Minister expects the energy crisis to be with us for more than one winter. Two, she grasps how lethal it will be to the Tories’ hopes of re-election if the Treasury doesn’t intervene in a big way. Three, she is prepared to run up government debt even further in order to mitigate a crisis that threatens people’s quality of life. This third point is the crucial one. When a neo-Thatcherite like Truss concedes the merits of transformative interventions funded by borrowing, it opens up a broader conversation. If the Treasury

Full text: The PM’s first speech on the steps of No. 10

Good afternoon. I have just accepted Her Majesty the Queen’s kind invitation to form a new government.  Let me pay tribute to my predecessor. Boris Johnson delivered Brexit, the Covid vaccine and stood up to Russian aggression. History will see him as a hugely consequential prime minister. I’m honoured to take on this responsibility at a vital time for our country. What makes the United Kingdom great is our fundamental belief in freedom, in enterprise and in fair play. Our people have shown grit, courage and determination time and time again. We now face severe global headwinds caused by Russia’s appalling war in Ukraine and the aftermath of Covid. Now

Freddy Gray

Get ready for Liz mania

Here she is, then. Liz Truss is Britain’s third woman Prime Minister and she’s already suffering from the not-so-soft bigotry of low expectations. Almost everyone is looking at this woman the Tory membership has chosen to lead us all and feeling glum. She is someone widely seen in political and media circles as a lightweight and an embarrassment. The overly drawn-out and stale leadership battle between her and Rishi Sunak hasn’t helped either. Can Liz Truss ever hope to win a general election? But most new leaders enjoy a popularity bounce upon entering high office. Remember May mania? She experienced a five per cent surge in the polls in her

Revealed: Labour’s tactics to deal with Truss

Keir Starmer tonight told the weekly parliamentary Labour party meeting that ‘we will never underestimate Liz Truss’. The Labour leader added that ‘she is a talented politician who has got to the top through hard work and determination’ and that ‘she will do whatever it takes to keep them in power’. He warned that ‘the polls might tighten and her plans might create some buzz’. It was a reminder to the party, which often struggles to accept female Tory leaders, not to fall into the trap of mocking Truss or feasting too much on the Tory civil war. How will Labour approach the new PM? Starmer will be asking her

James Forsyth

The problems of mid-term PMs

Any Prime Minister who takes over mid-term has to contend with a certain set of problems. Liz Truss will wish she had been propelled through the front door of No. 10 by the momentum of a general election victory. The first difficulty is that you have no personal mandate. This doesn’t just affect your relationship with the electorate, but your own MPs too. Boris Johnson benefitted from a sense that he was a winner, which made MPs more prepared to trust his judgment. Liz Truss will have to go that much further to persuade MPs of her political calculations. It also means MPs will be more jumpy if the polls are bad.

Stephen Daisley

The case against a snap election

Unless Her Majesty throws us all a curveball, Liz Truss will be the next prime minister. So let’s knock something on the head here and now: she is under no obligation to call an election before January 2025. The replacement of one prime minister with another in the middle of a parliamentary term is not a democratic deficiency. It is parliamentary democracy in action. The prime minister and their cabinet colleagues are the Queen’s ministers and when one ministry replaces another, power does not transfer directly but through the sovereign. It is the Queen who issues an invitation to form a government in her name and she does so on