Truss in peril: Hunt declares U-turn on her tax plan as clamour …
Let’s be honest, Liz Truss isn’t having the best day/week/month-and-a-bit in office and, if we were her, we’d crawl under a duvet and watch the entire seven seasons of 'Gilmore Girls'.
But we’re not the Prime Minister, and for someone claiming to be leader of the British people, she’s doing a good job of shirking them.
Indeed, just three days after refusing to answer questions in the House of Commons on why she sacked good pal Kwasi Kwarteng, she pulled another no-show and sent one of her former Tory leadership rivals to replace her at the despatch box.
Penny Mordaunt took the PM’s place on Monday afternoon to face an urgent question from Labour leader Kier Starmer on the UK’s tempestuous economic situation. Downing Street didn't clarify why she couldn't do the job herself.
But faced with shouts of “where is she?” in the Commons, Mordaunt responded to fellow MPs: “With apologies to the Leader of the Opposition and the House, the PM is detained on urgent business… and I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with me.”
Starmer then thanked her for answering the question put to Truss, saying: “I guess under this Tory Government, everybody gets to be Prime Minister for 15 minutes.”
He continued: “It’s time for leaders to lead. But where is the Prime Minister? Hiding away, dodging questions, scared of her own shadow," he then added – to guffaws and sneaky chuckles from both sides of the chamber: "The lady is not for turning – up.”
\u201cKeir Starmer - "So now it's time for leaders to lead, but where is the Prime Minister.... the lady's not for turning......... up... she has no mandate from the country"\u201d
It comes just hours after the new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt all but crushed the so-called “Kami-Kwasi” mini-budget by delivering a televised financial statement U-turning on almost all of his predecessor’s planned tax cuts.
As pressure continues to mount on Truss to hand back the keys to Number 10, failing to face the music and sending Mordaunt as a sacrificial goat was decidedly not a good look – and, inevitably, Twitter had a lot to say about it:
\u201cSo Liz Truss has handed government policy to Jeremy Hunt, and has left Penny Mordaunt to speak on her behalf.\n\nWhat remaining function has she got left as prime minister other \u201cliving in Number 10\u201d\u201d
\u201c\ud83d\udea8\ud83d\udea8URGENT QUESTION\ud83d\udea8\ud83d\udea8\n\nNo 10 confirms that Penny Mordaunt will answer the urgent question Truss is not attending.\n\nHow can there be any faith in Truss by Conservative MPs if she sends someone who is after her job to answer questions for her.\n\n#ToriesOut102 #TrussOut42\u201d
— dave lawrence \ud83d\udc1f\ud83d\udc1f\ud83d\udc20 (@dave lawrence \ud83d\udc1f\ud83d\udc1f\ud83d\udc20)
\u201cWho is orchestrating this coup d'\u00e9tat?\n\nJeremy Hunt and Penny Mordaunt appear to be running the country. No doubt we'll see Rishi Sunak emerge from the wings shortly.\u201d
\u201cNEW: Labour have been told Penny Mordaunt will take Liz Truss\u2019s place in the Commons for Keir Starmer\u2019s urgent question. \n\nFirst she reverted to Rishi Sunak\u2019s economic policies, now she\u2019s asking her other leadership rival Penny Mordaunt to speak on her behalf. Humiliating.\u201d
\u201cTo be clear the question is on the appointment of the chancellor which am pretty sure wasn\u2019t Penny Mordaunt\u2019s decision\u2026.\n\nMordaunt isn\u2019t a fall guy - she\u2019s a human shield.\u201d
Earlier in the day, Truss responded to Hunt's trashing of the mini-budget she helped mastermind by hailing the "new course for growth" that she and her Chancellor were now charting.
Meanwhile, Angela Richardson became the fourth Tory MP to call publicly for the PM to stand down, saying the problems with the public finances were “100 per cent down to the Prime Minister”.
She 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.”
\u201c"I just don't think that it's tenable that she can stay in her position any longer." \n\nAngela Richardson becomes the fourth Conservative MP to tell the prime minister to go.\n\n#TimesRadio | @MattChorley\u201d
Under current party rules, Truss is protected from a leadership challenge for 12 months, but this could easily change if enough Tory MPs demand change.
Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell said the Prime Minister had just a fortnight to save her premiership.
“If over the next two weeks it becomes clear to the parliamentary party that the Prime Minister needs to change, or be changed, then the technicalities or the mechanism are not important,” he also told Times Radio.
“The wish of the parliamentary party will assert itself… if she cannot do the job, she will be replaced.”
It now appears to be a question of when, not if, she'll be carted out of Downing Street. And, frankly, the idea of "weeks" seems generous.
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