Liz Truss faces Cabinet colleagues after saying sorry for going 'too far, too fast' with mini-Budget

18 October 2022, 10:24

Liz Truss has vowed to fight the next general election as leader of the Tories
Liz Truss has vowed to fight the next general election as leader of the Tories. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Prime Minister Liz Truss has faced colleagues as she holds her first Cabinet meeting since apologising for wreaking havoc in the British economy in recent weeks.

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MPs gathered at Downing Street to meet with Ms Truss on Tuesday morning, following Jeremy Hunt's mini-Budget u-turn.

She earlier admitted that she wanted to help people with the cost of living, but her programme went "too far and too fast", adding that the new strategy with chancellor Jeremy Hunt was to "restore economic stability".

Speaking to the BBC, the PM said: “First of all, I do want to accept responsibility and say sorry for the mistakes that have been made. I wanted to act, to help people with their energy bills, to deal with the issue of high taxes, but we went too far and too fast.

"I have acknowledged that. I have put in place a new Chancellor with a new strategy to restore economic stability. Now what I am focused on is delivering for the public.”

Asked if she would be leading the Tories at the next general election, Ms Truss said that she would be the leader.

'The Conservative party will face oblivion if we get rid of Liz Truss.

Speaking on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Armed Forces Minister James Heappey backed the PM saying: "[Truss] is the leader of our party and the Prime Minister of our country.

"She has been very clear that a mistake was made

"She went too far and too fast with the mini-Budget, which she has owned and apologised for, there's lots more to governing our country than just that one issue."

It comes after Ms Truss first said sorry "for some of the mistakes made over the past few weeks", in a meeting with Conservative MPs on Monday evening.

"The Prime Minister said she was sorry for some of the mistakes that have been made over the last few weeks” in a meeting with the One Nation Conservatives, who are politically in the centre of the party, her official spokesperson said.

Read more: Liz Truss finally 'says sorry for mistakes' - to Conservative MPs

Ms Truss has repeatedly refused to apologise for the economic turmoil her policies have triggered, notably at a press conference on Friday afternoon, when several journalists asked if she would say sorry.

New chancellor Jeremy Hunt effectively undid almost all of the measures Ms Truss announced three weeks ago, a humiliating climbdown in an embarrassing tenure at Number 10.

Conservative MP David Simmonds defends U-turns

The flagship energy price help that Ms Truss has tried to promote as a key win during her time as Prime Minister will end in April and be replaced with more targeted help, Mr Hunt said in a statement on Monday morning.

Read more: Liz Truss leaves the Commons an hour after arriving late because of 'meeting with Sir Graham Brady'

Plans to cut the basic rate of income tax to 19% from 20% have also been shelved, saving just over £5bn, and an idea to scrap VAT for international tourists at certain stores will also not go ahead.

However, stamp duty will still be cut as planned and the 1.25% rise in National Insurance contributions will be cancelled.

Mr Hunt also said "we will no longer be proceeding with the cuts to dividend tax rates, the reversal of off-payroll working reforms introduced in 2017 and 2021... or the freeze on alcohol duty rates".

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt. Picture: Getty

Ms Truss' apologies come at a time of intense pressure on her, and speculation about her security in position.

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.S he 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.

Sir Keir Starmer criticised Ms Truss
Sir Keir Starmer criticised Ms Truss. Picture: Getty

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."

Penny Mordaunt filled in for Ms Truss in the House of Commons on Monday
Penny Mordaunt filled in for Ms Truss in the House of Commons on Monday. Picture: Getty

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!"

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