James Cleverly has warned Tory MPs that dumping Liz Truss would be “disastrous” as he insisted she will lead her party into the next election.
The foreign secretary, who supported Truss’s campaign to be Tory leader, said the PM would “absolutely” survive, despite mounting unhappiness among her parliamentary colleagues.
He said Tory MPs should “have a bit of courage” and stick with Truss, who only took over from Boris Johnson last month.
And he warned that any attempt to replace the prime minister with yet another leader would be a “disastrously bad idea not just politically but economically”.
His comments came after Truss endured a bruising encounter with her MPs at a meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers last night.
One present told HuffPost UK: “I would say it was worse than anything Theresa May ever faced when she was leader.”
The showdown in Committee Room 14 of the House of Commons came following a lacklustre PMQs in which Truss struggled to defend the economic chaos caused by last month’s mini-budget.
In the wake of the mini-budget, the value of the pound plummeted, mortgage rates soared and the Bank of England was forced to step in to bail out the pensions industry.
The reaction forced the chancellor to ditch the headline policy of abolishing the 45p rate of tax for the country’s top earners and bring forward his plan to balance the books from November 23 to Halloween.
Truss and her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, are now under pressure to perform more U-turns, including on the plan to cancel the rise in corporation tax from 19 per cent to 25 per cent, to restore market confidence.
Significantly, Cleverly this morning repeatedly refused to rule out that further changes could be made to the mini-budget.
Asked about the mounting speculation about Truss’s future, Cleverly told Radio Four’s Today programme: “We have got to recognise that we do need to bring certainty to the markets.
“I think changing the leadership would be a disastrously bad idea politically and also economically.
“We are absolutely going to stay focused on growing the economy.”
Truss’s troubles have been compounded by a new poll which has found that top Tories in the so-called Blue Wall could lose their seats at the next election.
The poll for Redfield and Wilton Strategies — which gave Labour a 13-point lead in 42 of the Tories’ heartland constituencies in southern England — said Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and Iain Duncan-Smith were all at risk of being ousted by the electorate.
Asked by LBC’s Nick Ferrari why the party now seemed as “popular as toothache” in the Blue Wall, Cleverly replied: “We are having to take very significant measures because of the unprecedented circumstances that we find ourselves in.
“That is unsurprisingly, I think, disconcerting to a number of people.
“We know we’ve only got a couple of years until the next general election, so we know we’ve got to get a move on.”