Jeremy Hunt reverses income tax break in U-turn on Truss’s mini-Budget
She’s probably not even finished unpacking, but the Prime Minister is edging closer and closer to getting the boot from Number 10 after her new chancellor all but rubbished her mini-budget.
Jeremy Hunt ditched almost all of the tax cuts pledged by his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng and scaled back support for household energy bills in a statement which essentially saw him snatching the reins of power from Liz Truss.
We’ve rounded up the key points from his Monday-morning speech here but, to sum up, only the scrapping of the National Insurance rise and stamp duty plans remain from Kwarteng’s proposed tax cuts.
In his televised statement, the new Chancellor – who only took office on Friday – warned of more “tough” decisions to come.
“Governments cannot eliminate volatility in markets but they can play their part and we will do so,” he said.
Here’s a look at how Twitter responded to his announcement:
\u201cThat Jeremy Hunt statement was, basically, a very polite coup. He might as well have delivered it after disembarking from a Chinook in the No 10 garden. Liz Truss is no longer the prime minister.\u201d
\u201cI literally cannot comprehend what I\u2019m watching. How can any Tory MP possibly believe Liz Truss can remain even titular Prime Minister after that. And how can Liz Truss believe it. Doesn\u2019t she have any self-respect.\u201d
\u201cOne Tory party insider says of Hunt's statement:\n\n"It's an utter humiliation of the prime minister. How can she not resign when her entire argument for the future of the country has been totally shredded?"\u201d
\u201cIt now seems the Prime Minister\u2019s newly appointed Chancellor is part of the \u201cAnti Growth Coalition\u201d that she has railed against, so vehemently, since the Disastrous Fiscal Event on 23rd of September: Truss briefed cabinet on tax cuts - No 10 https://t.co/gPabrXum2s via @BBCNews\u201d
— Ian Mearns MP for Gateshead (@Ian Mearns MP for Gateshead)
\u201cThe chancellor has reversed more than \u00a332bn of tax cuts. And there are public spending cuts to come. The scale of Truss\u2019s and Kwarteng\u2019s mini budget irresponsibility - as demonstrated by today\u2019s u-turn - is like nothing we\u2019ve seen in the UK for 50 years.\u201d
\u201cThis was an emergency statement to respond not to any external emergency: war, pandemic, global energy prices\u2026 it\u2019s an emergency budget to respond to the ongoing crisis of the UK having a Conservative government.\u201d
Hunt’s last-minute statement came as a fourth Tory MP, Guildford's Angela Richardson, called publicly for Truss to stand down saying that the problems with the public finances were “100 per cent down to the Prime Minister”.
Richardson told Times Radio: “I just don’t think that it’s tenable that she can stay in her position any longer. And I’m very sad to have to say that."
Meanwhile, Truss responded defiantly by insisting that the dramatic change in tack announced by the Chancellor “supports and delivers” for people across the country.
In a tweet posted about an hour after Hunt's statement, she wrote: “The British people rightly want stability, which is why we are addressing the serious challenges we face in worsening economic conditions. We have taken action to chart a new course for growth that supports and delivers for people across the United Kingdom.”
She failed to point out that the "new course" for growth amounted to a trashing of the previous one that she'd masterminded. Instead, others did that for her:
\u201cThe British people want stability so I launched unfunded tax cuts that spooked markets, risked pension funds, shot up interest rates, sacked the Chancellor and then reversed the whole plan including the guarantee to protect you from energy price rises. But - stability \ud83d\udc4d\ud83c\udffc\u201d
Separately, Downing Street sidestepped questions on whether Truss would be handing in her resignation, insisting that she remained “focused on delivery”.
Asked who was running the country, given that the Chancellor had just torn up her economic strategy, the PM's official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister. She has been working closely with her Chancellor over the weekend to agree this approach."
Pressed on whether she accepted she had a credibility problem, he added: “The Prime Minister is demonstrating that she is able to make the difficult decisions necessary to provide the leadership for this country.”
He might want to take a quick look at Twitter to see whether people agree...
Still, at least some big Tory names have voiced their support(ish) for the PM.
Nadine Dorries tweeted that there was no "unity candidate" available to the Tories to replace Truss and so they should back Truss... or bring back Boris Johnson:
\u201cThere is no unity candidate. \n\nNo one has enough support. \n\nOnly one MP has a mandate from party members and from the British public - a mandate with an 80 seat majority.\n@BorisJohnson \n\nThe choices are simple - back Liz, if not bring back Boris or face a GE within weeks.\u201d
Suffice it to say, not everyone loves the sound of those first two choices, but there's plenty of backing for the third...
\u201cSo much damage has already been done by these reckless Tories.\n\nNow they will slash spending on our NHS and schools, while propping up bankers\u2019 bonuses to keep their donors happy. \n\nGeneral Election NOW\u201d