Is Liz Truss Laying The Ground For Yet Another Mini-Budget U-Turn?

The prime minister is under pressure to reverse her planned tax cuts in a bid to end the economic turmoil.
Liz Truss during prime minister's questions yesterday.
Liz Truss during prime minister's questions yesterday.
UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor via PA Media

For someone whose main selling point is that she is a strong leader who is prepared to be unpopular, Liz Truss certainly does a lot of U-turns.

From paying public sector workers in the north less than those in London to the abolition of the 45p tax rate, Truss has shown that there is no policy she isn’t prepared to ditch when the flak starts to fly.

But the signs are that she is now preparing for her biggest volte face yet.

According to The Times, the prime minister is being urged by her top advisers to ditch the contents of last month’s mini-budget and increase corporation tax in a desperate bid to convince the markets that the government is serious about balancing the books.

Further proof that a gigantic climbdown is on the way came during James Cleverly’s broadcast interview round this morning.

The foreign secretary was asked repeatedly whether the prime minister remained committed to the mini-budget in general, and the pledge to keep corporation tax at 19p in particular.

It’s safe to say that his answers left the door open for the government abandoning some, if not all, of its tax cuts when Kwasi Kwarteng delivers his medium term fiscal plan on October 31.

Such a climbdown would be welcomed by some Tory MPs, including Treasury select committee chair Mel Stride, who yesterday told the government that it must demonstrate that it is committed to fiscal discipline.

“Given the huge challenges, there are many – myself included – who believe it is quite possible that [the chancellor] will simply have to come forward with a further rowing back on the tax announcements that he made,” Stride told the Commons.

The PM’s official spokesman still insisted today that the remainder of the mini-budget is still due to be implemented.

Asked if there will be no further U-turns, he 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.”

However, both Bloomberg and Sky have reported that talks are underway behind the scenes in Whitehall which could see some of the measures contained in the mini-budget junked.

Amid the confusion, increasing numbers of Tory MPs now believe that virtually any leader would be a better bet than Truss to take them into the next election.

At last night’s bruising meeting of the 1922 Committee, the PM faced many hostile questions from disgruntled backbenchers.

Former minister Robert Halfon, the Tory MP for Harlow, told Truss she had “trashed blue collar conservatism” by weakening the government’s commitment to affordable housing and lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses.

One MP present told HuffPost UK: “She was crap and the atmosphere was pretty flat in the room. Even the whips couldn’t be bothered getting people to ask supportive questions.”

Truss must hope that another mini-budget U-turn will help to secure her position rather than simply hasten her departure from 10 Downing Street.


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