‘Coup’ allegations fly at Tory conference as Truss fails to unite party

Birmingham: The costs of deposing Boris Johnson continued to mount for the Tory party after senior cabinet ministers accused colleagues of trying to stage a coup against new Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Truss has struggled to assert her authority on her increasingly divided party following her disastrous decision to announce the abolition of the top tax rate, only to reverse it, ruining her attempts to cast herself as the next Margaret Thatcher.

UK prime minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng during the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham.Credit:Bloomberg

Truss was forced into the decision by a rebellion of MPs who would have blocked her legislation in the House of Commons.

The rebellion was led by former cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Grant Shapps.

Suella Braverman, one of Truss’ early rivals, and now Home Secretary, told a fringe event on the sidelines of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, that she was disappointed the prime minister had backed down.

“Ultimately, I am very disappointed that members of our own parliamentary party staged a coup effectively and undermined the authority of our prime minister in an unprofessional way,” Braverman said.

“We should be supporting her and I am very disappointed to say the least over how some of our colleagues have behaved.”

Braverman’s predecessor, Priti Patel, who left cabinet after the leadership change, took aim at the culture of felling Conservative Party leaders, including Margaret Thatcher.

“This can’t keep happening, it’s an affront to our democracy and to the public,” she said.

Asked by a Conservative Party member if it was time to get rid of Truss because of her disdain for supporters of her leadership rival Rishi Sunak, Patel said that would lead to even more division. She took the top job only a month ago.

“We’ve just done that and nothing would be more divisive for the party and country,” she said.

Patel also hit out at the unfunded spending package announced by Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng, saying it was loading an unsustainable burden on future generations.

She said the Conservative Party needed to relearn some “basic hard truths” that government spending was not unlimited.

“The Conservative Party lives or dies by its ability to handle the nation’s finances,” she said, echoing a similar warning sounded by Australia’s former foreign minster and High Commissioner to the UK Alexander Downer.

British Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and Prime Minister Liz Truss.Credit:Getty Images

In a further sign of the instability plaguing Her Majesty’s government, cabinet ministers openly argued about whether the government should raise benefits for the poor in line with inflation.

The row has opened up after Truss’ senior ministers suggested that benefits could be cut to pay for the £45 billion ($80 billion) spending package announced a fortnight ago.

Speaking after a photo opportunity to a construction site, Truss said she was enjoying being prime minister.

She also said that the war in Ukraine presented the government with the opportunity to begin from scratch on a range of policies.

But Johnson loyalist and ex-cabinet minister Nadine Dorries, who backed Truss over Sunak, said Truss had no mandate under Britain’s democratic system to do that.

“Conservative MPs removed the PM people wanted and voted for with a stonking big majority less than three years ago,” Dorries said.

“We can’t remove the policies too! That’s just not how our unwritten constitution/democracy works or the example [we] should set to the rest of the free world,” she said in a tweet.

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