She’s back! Barely four months after her disastrous stint as PM, Liz Truss has returned to the fray – and her allies hope she will lead the Tories in opposition… Dream on, say Rishi, Boris and Gove
- Truss has penned a 4,000 word essay in her first intervention since losing No 10
- Read more: Liz Truss insists she DID have right ideas about economic growth
The return of Liz Truss, after barely four months in political exile, prompts MPs who are loyal to Rishi Sunak to sink their heads into their hands.
‘Her little entourage have been going around the Commons, saying that when the Tories lose the next election she would be the best person to rebuild the party,’ says one Minister, who served in Liz Truss’s Government.
‘It’s as if she’s plotting for us to lose so that she can promote herself.’
Allies of Ms Truss – who this weekend made her first major intervention since leaving No 10 by publishing a 4,000-word essay – insist that this is a deliberate distortion of her actual view.
They say that she has no intention of challenging Mr Sunak, so logically the only chance for her to reclaim the leadership would be if he is ousted as leader – most likely after an election defeat.
Allies of Ms Truss – who this weekend made her first major intervention since leaving No 10 by publishing a 4,000-word essay – insist that there have been deliberate distortions of her actual views
Although he no longer nurses his own dreams of leadership, he is suspected by many colleagues of trying to inveigle Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch into Downing Street
If her enduring ambitions seem surprising given her calamitous 49 days in office, that is to underestimate Ms Truss’s astonishing resilience and almost supernatural self-confidence.
Her view, shared by many Tory MPs, is that she deployed the right policies in the wrong way . . . If her plan for tax cuts had been introduced more adroitly, the country would be emerging from the economic doldrums more quickly than under Mr Sunak’s more sclerotic, managerial Premiership, which has imposed the highest tax burden on the British people for decades.
She concedes that by piling too many measures into her first Budget, including trying to scrap the 45p tax band, she wrecked her own plans by spooking the markets and bringing the economy to the brink of meltdown.
But she has made clear in meetings with her ideological allies around the globe that she does not trust Mr Sunak and his Chancellor to spearhead a revival.
It is Mr Sunak’s unique misfortune to be shadowed by, not one, but two former Prime Ministers nursing grievances about ‘unfinished business’.
On Friday, Boris Johnson told his successor in an interview with Nadine Dorries that cutting tax to boost the economy ‘needs to happen’, and he has also piled the pressure on Mr Sunak over his decision not to send aircraft to defend Ukraine.
Boris Johnson told his successor in an interview on Friday with Nadine Dorries that cutting tax to boost the economy ‘needs to happen’
It is Mr Sunak’s unique misfortune to be shadowed by, not one, but two former Prime Ministers nursing grievances about ‘unfinished business’
As the clock ticks down to the likely election date in autumn 2024, the Tory Party is pre-emptively fragmenting into multiple ideological blocks, all hoping to operate as the foundation stone for a revivalist leader.
Aside from the brooding ex-PMs and their band of supporters, lurking in the background – as ever – is Michael Gove, the nation’s pre-eminent political manipulator.
Although he no longer nurses his own dreams of leadership, he is suspected by many colleagues of trying to inveigle Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch into Downing Street by the end of the year if the party’s 20-plus poll deficit with Labour has not narrowed.
Mr Gove backed Ms Badenoch – whose anti-woke views and media skills make her popular with the party grassroots – in the summer leadership contest, switching to Mr Sunak only after she was eliminated.
A source said: ‘Gove seems to regard Kemi as his avatar, a more electorally-appealing projection of his politics, and he leads a powerful backroom gang who see her as the emergency lever to pull if the local elections are a total disaster.’
Another faction is starting to turn to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, beloved by the Right of the party for her stances on cementing Brexit, cutting immigration and limiting trans rights.
As the Minister responsible for tackling the small boats crisis, her fortunes will hinge on signs of visible progress being made soon to stem the ‘invasion’ of migrants from Calais.
Meanwhile, the One Nation wing of the party is looking towards Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, who is perceived to hold less trenchant views on issues such as trans rights and has a powerful rags-to-riches back story.
The One Nation wing of the party is looking towards Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, who is perceived to hold less trenchant views on issues including the trans debate
Having started her career aged 16 as an apprentice at a car factory in Kirkby, Merseyside, she has been successful enough to brandish a £10,000 Rolex watch.
Also lurking, even further in the background, are the party grandees meeting each other in London’s most exclusive restaurants to try to plot a path towards the retention of power.
On Thursday, it was former Tory leader William Hague and ex-Chancellor George Osborne sharing their prescriptions for survival at the ‘A’ table in Scott’s, the Mayfair celebrity spot which serves towering seafood platters and was the birthplace of Bond’s dry martini.
Hague recently told a Cabinet awayday at Chequers that ‘all is not yet lost’ for the party, citing how John Major managed to secure a majority against the odds in 1992.
He supports the Prime Minister’s refusal to cut taxes, saying: ‘There is no winning position for the Conservatives that does not involve being the most responsible party on the economy . . . Those two truths show what to do with a reflex urge to cut taxes at all costs. Resist it.’
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