Tory MP says 'no prime minister is ever safe' as pressure mounts for Liz Truss to resign

17 October 2022, 14:18 | Updated: 17 October 2022, 19:20

Jeremy Hunt addressing the Commons with Liz Truss
Jeremy Hunt addressing the Commons with Liz Truss. Picture: Live Parliament Feed

By Will Taylor

A Conservative MP who met with Liz Truss this evening at Downing Street has said ‘no Prime Minister is ever safe’ as pressure mounts for her to resign.

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Speaking with Andrew Marr on LBC tonight, David Simmons – the MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner – said the PMs time in office has ‘clearly been difficult’.

Conservative MP David Simmonds defends U-turns

Five MPs have now publicly called for her resignation: Crispin Blunt, Andrew Bridgen, Jamie Wallis, Angela Richardson, Sir Charles Walker.

The Prime Minister was heavily criticised this afternoon for leaving the House of Commons just half an hour after arriving.

She first appeared towards the end of Penny Mordant answering emergency questions from MPs on her behalf.

The Leader of the House of Commons was forced to deny that the PM was ‘hiding under the desk,’ insisting that she had a very genuine reason for not showing up at the start.

It later turned out that Truss was meeting with Sir Graham Brady.

Number 10 sources say the meeting was ‘pre-planned’, rather than crisis talks with the chairman of the 1922 Committee – a group of backbench MPs that oversee the election of party leaders.

Keir Starmer mocked Liz Truss this morning by saying the "lady is not for turning up" after she ducked a House of Commons showdown.

The Labour leader made the quip, invoking Margaret Thatcher's famous words about U-turns, after a humiliating reversal on economic plan and Ms Truss's decision to send Penny Mordaunt in her stead.

Ms Mordaunt said: "With apologies to the leader of the opposition and the House, the PM is detained on urgent business."

That sparked a roar of laughter on opposition benches. She would later have to deny that Ms Truss was hiding under a desk when Labour's Stella Creasy suggested she was cowering there, and said there was a "genuine" reason why the PM was not available for the urgent question.

Sir Keir said: "I guess under this Tory Government everybody gets to be Prime Minister for 15 minutes.

"The country is in an economic crisis made in Downing Street, because they've lost all credibility. Government borrowing costs have soared, mortgage rates have ballooned, markets need reassuring and there is long term damage that cant be undone.

"Once you've crashed a car at 100mph you've damaged it for good and you're going to be paying much more for your insurance for years to come. And it's working people who will pay."

He said: "Now it's time for leaders to lead. But where is the Prime Minister? Hiding away, dodging questions, scared of her own shadow, the lady's not for turning – up!"

Ms Truss has been asked to come to the Commons to speak about sacking Kwasi Kwarteng and replacing him with Jeremy Hunt, who on Monday announced he will reverse almost every part of Ms Truss's economic plan, which previously sent markets into turmoil.

She instead dispatched Penny Mordaunt, her one-time leadership rival now serving as leader of the House of Commons, to answer on her behalf.

Read more: No income tax cut and energy price cap watered down from April as Hunt overhauls disastrous mini-Budget

Labour said before the Commons session: "After days of the Prime Minister attempting to dodge the questions the public has, Labour has now had to force her to come to Parliament. If she had a shred of authority left she would turn up."

Mr Hunt dropped plans to cut basic income tax to 19p from 20p per pound, said alcohol duty will no longer be frozen and announced the international shopper VAT exemption will also go.

Shelagh: Liz Truss is deluded and dangerous.

National Insurance contributions will not rise by 1.25%, as had previously been planned, and stamp duty will still be cut.

But the energy bill help scheme, which had capped the average family's spend on power at £2,500 a year for two years, will instead be ended in April and replaced with more targeted support.

There was no immediate reaction from Ms Truss.

Four Tory MPs have called for her to go will many are privately briefing that she will likely have to walk.

The Tories are facing appalling polling against Labour and some observers have questioned whether Monday's fiscal announcement reflects that more power lies with Mr Hunt, who backed Ms Truss's leadership rival Rishi Sunak.

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