‘Unite behind PM or lose election’: Rebel MPs urged to fall in line behind Liz Truss or risk becoming ‘unruly rabble’ and handing power to Keir Starmer
- Cabinet ministers warned rebel Tory MPs they must back Truss or lose the election
- Backbenchers led a rebellion that spread to the upper levels of government
- It overshadowed the Tory Party conference as the Prime Minister’s allies called for calm
- One source said the party was in danger of becoming an ‘unruly rabble’
Cabinet ministers tonight warned feuding Tory MPs that they must unite behind Liz Truss – or face electoral oblivion.
After the ringleaders led a revolt that spread to the top levels of government and overshadowed the Conservative Party conference, the Prime Minister’s allies called for calm.
They said MPs must decide to either ‘get behind’ the Prime Minister when they return to Westminster next week, or continue their struggles and ‘consign us to certain defeat’.
A source close to the Prime Minister warned that the party was in danger of becoming an ‘unruly rabble’. ‘We had underestimated the sheer hatred of some of these people who [Michael] Gove and [Grant] Shapps,” he said. ‘It’s very difficult to get your message across when they act like that.’
Another No10 insider admitted the conference had been a ‘s*** show’ and added: ‘MPs have a choice when they come back to Westminster next week – they can either knuckle down and get behind the Prime Minister, or they may continue as they are, leaving us to certain defeat. ‘
Cabinet ministers have urged rebel MPs to back Liz truss or face the party becoming an ‘ungovernable rabble’
There is still a path to victory. We are two years from the election – but not if people keep behaving like this. They are playing right into Keir Starmer’s hands.’
Miss Truss emboldened the rebel backbench when she staged a humiliating U-turn on Monday – reversing plans to cut the top income tax rate.
MPs then staged a fresh revolt over the Prime Minister’s proposal to upgrade benefits in line with earnings – breaking a commitment by Boris Johnson to increase payments in line with inflation.
Cabinet ministers openly criticized the plans at the Birmingham conference and put pressure on Miss Truss to change her mind.
But the Daily Mail understands she remains determined to continue upgrading benefits in line with earnings. Sources said disability benefits could rise in line with inflation, but the Prime Minister still believes it would be unfair for most claimants to receive a bigger increase than workers whose tax funds their payments.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the move would cut government spending by around £7 billion – because earnings are growing at 5.5 per cent compared with inflation of around 10 per cent. One insider warned that if Miss Truss was forced into another U-turn, the rebels would be further emboldened. “We have to win this because our opponents are playing a mole,” they said.
‘If we give in, they’ll just move on to the next thing.’
Liz Truss emboldened rebel backbenchers when she performed a humiliating U-turn on Monday – reversing plans to cut the top rate of income tax.
Cabinet ministers Chloe Smith, Penny Mordaunt and Sir Robert Buckland were among senior Tories to signal their concerns over the benefits plan. But a member of the Cabinet accused No10 of leaving ministers in the dark – allowing their comments to be seen as signs of division.
‘No 10 needs to set out the policy for us. I don’t think the ministers were necessarily trying to cause trouble, but they just didn’t know what to say.’
They also warned that those calling for Miss Truss to be ousted before Christmas ‘must be sectioned’.
Tory former minister David Davis said it would be ‘impossible’ to replace a Tory leader before the next election.
“If the party splits, then we will lose the next election,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “They have to pull together, but that means two sides: both the government itself… and my colleagues must try to make their experience available to the government.
‘Like Thatcher – take on the big problems but do it carefully, do it with some sense of caution. Try to fulfill the needs of the nation.’
And Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said it was ‘ridiculous’ to suggest Miss Truss had just ten days to save her leadership.
“I like that she says what she wants to do and then does what she says,” he told BBC Breakfast. “She is delivering from day one of the things she said she would do because, as I say, she recognizes that if you don’t go after growth, you end up with either stagnation or recession, and that’s not what we want to do. ‘
Miss Truss appeared to address the feuding MPs in her conference speech yesterday. “I know how it feels to have your potential dismissed by those who think they know better,” she said pointedly.
Downing Street later suggested whips would try to restore order over critical ministers.
The Prime Minister’s press secretary said: ‘There will always be differences of opinion between people, people are entitled to their personal opinions. But they should be brought up in a more constructive way.’