Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

‘Active’ discussions under way in No 10 about scrapping parts of mini-budget – reports

Sky News’ Sam Coates writes that “active” discussions are under way in Downing Street over whether to scrap parts of the mini-budget.

This is despite the fact that Downing Street has just promised there will not be any more U-turns on the government’s mini-budget.

There is “a conversation going on inside government” about “whether or not to junk some of the measures from the mini-budget”, according to Coates.

Downing Street denying any changes to mini budget but I’m told by sources discusssions underway over which bits might yet be junked give the scale of the concern

Looking at a return to the mandate from the leadership contest

No clarity on timing of announcement if it happens

— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) October 13, 2022

Key events

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Many Tory MPs are still waiting to hear the chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, present his debt-cutting plan on 31 October before making a decision about whether to support him and Liz Truss, according to ITV News’ Anushka Asthana.

Despite the febrile mood among Tory MPs (one described 1922 as “outpouring of despair” – many still see October 31 as key day. That is the moment that the PM and CX either do or don’t turn it around. Although as @nicholaswatt pointing out-lots of rumours about action ahead of it.

— Anushka Asthana (@AnushkaAsthana) October 13, 2022

The pound has risen in the last half hour as rumours circulate that the government could make a U-turn on its planned cuts to corporation and dividend taxes.

The pound has surged 1.4% to $1.1259 against the dollar.

For more business updates, do follow our live blog:

BBC Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt has been told by one former cabinet minister to “brace for the mother of all U-turns” on the mini-budget today.

A former cabinet minister tells me: “Brace for the mother of all U-Turns on the mini budget today. A friendly person in the know is advising us to steer clear of the media today to avoid the explosion. We wouldn’t want to look silly by tomorrow.” #waitandsee

— Nicholas Watt (@nicholaswatt) October 13, 2022

Bloomberg is also reporting that officials at No 10 and the Treasury are working on a U-turn for Liz Truss’s mini-budget.

Officials are drafting options for Truss but no final decision has been taken and they are waiting for the chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, to return to London from Washington, the news outlet quotes a person familiar with the matter.

From Bloomberg’s Kitty Donaldson:

NEW: Officials in Downing Street are working on a U-turn on Liz Truss’s tax plans, but no decisions will be made before Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng gets back from the IMF in Washington

— Kitty Donaldson (@kitty_donaldson) October 13, 2022

‘Active’ discussions under way in No 10 about scrapping parts of mini-budget – reports

Sky News’ Sam Coates writes that “active” discussions are under way in Downing Street over whether to scrap parts of the mini-budget.

This is despite the fact that Downing Street has just promised there will not be any more U-turns on the government’s mini-budget.

There is “a conversation going on inside government” about “whether or not to junk some of the measures from the mini-budget”, according to Coates.

Downing Street denying any changes to mini budget but I’m told by sources discusssions underway over which bits might yet be junked give the scale of the concern

Looking at a return to the mandate from the leadership contest

No clarity on timing of announcement if it happens

— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) October 13, 2022

The Tory MP, Christopher Chope, says he has “absolute confidence” in Liz Truss as prime minister and that he believes the Conservative party will win the next general election

Descriptions of last night’s 1922 Committee meeting “bear no resemblance to the truth”, Chope told Times Radio. He added:

The truth is that the prime minister was in good form. She was calm and confident. If I was a betting man, I would now be going out and putting money on the Conservatives winning the next general election.

“If I was a betting man I would be going out and putting money on the Conservatives winning the next general election.”

Conservative MP Christopher Chope tells @StigAbell that he has “absolute confidence” in Liz Truss and that his critical colleagues should “shut up”. pic.twitter.com/MgifFuDLYT

— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) October 13, 2022

No 10 refuses to rule out prospect of budget cuts at some government departments

Downing Street has refused to rule out the prospect that some government departments could face cuts to their budgets.

Overall government spending will continue to rise in real terms, the PM’s official spokesperson said. They added:

When it comes to departments there is a process to go through which is led by the Treasury. We have made some specific commitments to departments. The prime minister has talked about defence spending, for example.

Beyond that, I am not going to get drawn into specific budgets. It is between those departments and the Treasury.

The leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, has joked that her “resting face” is that of a “bulldog chewing a wasp”.

During an exchange in the Commons, Labour’s shadow Commons leader, Thangam Debbonaire, said her counterpart “couldn’t even muster a nod for her prime minister” at yesterday’s PMQs.

Mordaunt responded:

Let me address the comments the honourable lady makes about my facial expressions: my resting face is that of a bulldog chewing a wasp, and people shouldn’t read too much into that.

The i’s Paul Waugh writes that Mordaunt’s performance today in the Commons gives her a prime opportunity to portray herself as a PM-in-waiting.

Meanwhile, @PennyMordaunt doing a very good job defending Govt’s record….Business Questions giving her a prime opportunity to portray herself as a PM-in-waiting.

— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) October 13, 2022

Paul Mason, formerly of Channel 4 News, writes that the smart money is on the imminent exit of Kwasi Kwarteng and his budget.

These extraordinary polls will only narrow once Kwarteng is gone. Smart money has to be on his imminent exit…together with his ridiculous budget 👇🏽 https://t.co/mIBUkqUrgz

— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) October 13, 2022

Downing Street rules out more U-turns on mini-budget

Downing Street has promised there will not be any more U-turns on the government’s mini-budget.

Asked if the prime minister promises there will be no further reversals, her official spokesperson said:

Yes, as I said to a number of questions on this yesterday, and the position has not changed from what I set out to you all then.

Pressed on whether Liz Truss is committed to the timeframes set out for measures in the mini-budget, the official said:

Yes, and obviously as you know the date for the medium-term fiscal plan has been brought forward.

The former culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, has urged Conservative MPs to #backliz just days after calling for a general election.

Tory MPs who are discussing who should replace Truss as leader “are not taking into account the fact that they cannot foist upon the British public another prime minister that the public have not voted for”, Dorries wrote on Twitter.

MPs circulating a smorgasboard of names re who should replace Truss as PM are not taking into account the fact that they cannot foist upon the British public another Prime Minister that the public have not voted for. A totally untenable position. #backliz

— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) October 13, 2022

Just last week, Dorries suggested Truss should call a general election to obtain a mandate for her policies and said there was “widespread dismay” about the PM’s approach.

The government had “no mandate from the people” to scrap its policy promises under Boris Johnson and start from scratch, Dorries argued last Tuesday. She added:

If we don’t want to deliver on the deal, the promises, we need a fresh mandate.

“It’s how democracy works,” Dorries explained.

We have no mandate from the people to do this.

Conservative Gov elected on basis of a manifesto, it’s how democracy works.

People voted in ‘19 on the policy promises we made (and for Boris).

If we don’t want to deliver on the deal, the promises, we need a fresh mandate. https://t.co/Q36iRAUzUH

— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) October 4, 2022

It appears she is now fine with Britain having had one unelected prime minister, but having two would be a “totally untenable position”.

Aubrey Allegretti

Aubrey Allegretti

Conservative commentators are beginning to turn against Liz Truss, with rightwing newspapers such as the Sun and Daily Mail rounding on her for making a “pig’s ear” of the mini-budget, while other observers suggest her premiership could be extremely short-lived.

Though she was initially heralded by some as a prime minister to drive through true-blue policies with the most radical reforms in decades, unease is growing in Tory circles about her leadership.

Recent market turmoil, a series of screeching U-turns and the expectation more will follow are compounding jitters about Truss’s future.

The Daily Mail, in its editorial on Thursday, reserved the top slot in its three-pronged editorial column to savage the Bank of England governor, Andrew Bailey, but used the second to raise concerns about Truss. It said her “dash for growth is already limping badly after she made a pig’s ear of presenting her ambitious mini-budget and was forced into humiliating U-turns”.

Though critical of her leadership, the Mail, which endorsed Truss during the leadership contest, did say the principle of tax cuts and pursuance of growth was the right one and urged Tory rebels to get behind it.

Emblazoned across the rest of the page was a comment piece by its columnist Stephen Glover. One extract read:

In her abject powerlessness she is like a leader who has been in office for years and has run out of options and support. But she has only just started! And she has a majority of nearly 70.

Meanwhile the Sun, which did not endorse either Truss or Rishi Sunak, used its editorial on Thursday to go after the new prime minister.

Read the full story:

Labour 28 points ahead – YouGov poll

The latest YouGov/Times voting intention poll shows Labour maintaining the massive lead they opened up over the Conservatives last month.

The figures show the Tories on 23% of the vote (up by one point from the previous poll) to Labour’s 51% (which is down one point).

Keir Starmer continues to hold a lead over Liz Truss in terms of the party leader Britons think would make the best prime minister, by 42% to 13%.

The Times’ Henry Zeffman paints a picture of the scale of the potential rebellion Liz Truss faces from her own MPs.

“If the 22 changed the rules, we’d hit the threshold for a confidence vote in a couple of hours”, a Tory MP tells me.

Safe to say the mood is sulphurous in parliament this morning

— Henry Zeffman (@hzeffman) October 13, 2022





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