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Liz Truss admits ‘mistakes have been made’ as Jeremy Hunt says ‘eye-watering’ decisions on tax and spending need to be made – live | Politics

Truss tells One Nation group ‘mistakes have been made’

The first signs of what Liz Truss told the One Nation group of Conservative MPs this evening are emerging, after party chairman Jake Berry spoke to journalists outside the meeting.

Berry said there had been a focus on “unity”.

“The prime minister started by saying that mistakes have been made, she acknowledged them, she is bringing the party together,” PA Media reported.

“Colleagues who were there [were] very heavily focused on unity. Matt Hancock made a really good intervention, saying that now is the time for unity, we’ve got to get behind the PM.”

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Veteran Tory MP Christopher Chope has said the Conservative party “faces oblivion” if it gets rid of Liz Truss.

Chope, who said Truss is the 9th leader during his time in parliament told Iain Dale on LBC: “If we get rid of her, then we are basically faced with having a general election. There is another 18 months or two years until a general election is due.

“Our ship, our state has been blown off course, there is no doubt about that. It has been a very troublesome couple of weeks. I think if we stick with the team at the helm at the moment, that is the way forward.

“If you ditch your leaders it normally makes things worse rather than better. I said when Boris is ousted, we would rue the day when we did it, and I think I have been proven right, but we would rue the day more if we get rid of Liz Truss.

“There is no way we get rid of her without triggering an election, changing the rules and creating a whole lot more chaos in the country at a time where we should be concentrating on sorting out our political and economic problems.”

He said there was “no way” Rishi Sunak would become leader and prime minister, because there is “too much of a coalition of opposition to him”.

More from Liz Truss’ speech to the One Nation group of Conservative MPs in parliament this evening.

Her press secretary has said that she had tried to do too much too quickly.

“The prime minister said she was sorry for some of the mistakes that have been made over the last few weeks.” Truss emphasised the need to push ahead with changes to National Insurance and the energy package.

MP Simon Hoare, who was at the meeting, told PA Media: “I think she, in a very sincere way – and I was struck by her sincerity… she was candid that mistakes had been made. I think some of those mistakes she admitted were avoidable mistakes.

“But I thought that the tone, the language that she adopted, indicated a clear apology, without… flagellating herself in the middle of the room.”

Anonymous briefings continue, however, the BBC’s political correspondent Iain Watson said one MP described her appearance as “the first time [they had] heard a corpse deliver its own eulogy”.

Liz Truss’ press secretary has said that there was not a point on Monday when she thought she would have to resign.

Journalists have also been told that there are no plans for a reshuffle of the cabinet, despite calls for people from across the party to be brought into the top table of government to try and unify the party.

Truss’ press secretary said her general mood had been “determined” to do “what’s best for the country and deliver the growth plan”, according to PA Media.

Cabinet ministers arrive at Downing Street for Truss drinks reception

Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg arrives at 10 Downing Street in London. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Cabinet members are arriving at Downing Street for a drinks reception with Liz Truss.

Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, fresh from his appearance in the Commons for the second reading of the energy bill, said Truss should “absolutely not” resign. “[She is] a very good prime minister,” he told PA Media.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly, leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt, Tom Tugendhat, chief whip Wendy Morton and culture secretary Michele Donelan have also been seen arriving.

Here’s some insight into the members of Jeremy Hunt’s panel of experts who will advise on economic policy from my colleague Richard Partington.

They include Rupert Harrison, who was a key aide to George Osborne when he was chancellor. Karen Ward, Gertjan Vlieghe and Sushil Wadhwani complete the line-up.

The Lib Dem Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney has criticised them as “purely wealthy asset managers” whose appointment shows how out of touch the government is.

Rupert Harrison, an architect behind the former chancellor’s austerity drive, will provide advice on economic policy as Liz Truss’s government battles to repair the damage to its reputation after the mini-budget.

The chancellor said Harrison would make an important contribution as he pushed to find billions of pounds in budget savings from tax changes and spending cuts.

“Rupert Harrison, in particular, has enormous experience of running the Treasury under George Osborne,” he told the Commons.

A note from my colleague Aubrey Allegretti, our political correspondent, who points out that there are two seats up for election on the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, which governs whether there could be a rule change that will allow a vote of no confidence in Liz Truss.

An important moment is creeping up tomorrow:

The 1922 Committee, which sets (and can change) the rules for a VONC/ leadership contest, has two vacancies to fill.

Nus Ghani (vice chair) and Aaron Bell (exec member) both need replacing.

Pro-rule change MPs eyeing up the spots.

— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) October 17, 2022

The chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been doing a series of interviews this evening after his statement and two-hours answering questions in the House of Commons earlier.

Speaking to Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 News, he said that it had been difficult for Liz Truss to change her policies and drop those in the “mini-budget”. Hunt also denied that he wanted to become prime minister. He told Beth Rigby on Sky News that he thinks Truss will still be leader at Christmas.

Analysis by Channel 4 found that cuts or tax rises still needs to make up £70bn of deficit.

He said: “It’s difficult for any politician to change course as dramatically as the prime minister has. She is doing what it takes and I think we have to respect that she has taken those very tough decisions for her personally.”

Hunt would not apologise for the damage caused, saying “it is beyond words”. He added that there would be a mix of both tax rises and cuts.

“I think she has recognised that it was wrong not to have OBR forecasts with the original ‘mini-budget’, and she has made a lot of changes and she is doing what it takes. I need to finish the job with a series of difficult decisions facing me and the country, that shows this is a country that pays its way.”

“There will be difficult decisions in terms of public spending cuts and increased taxation, I don’t think it’s fair to rely on either one of those. Yes, taxes will go up.

“We will take the decisions through the prism of a compassionate Conservative government which has the most vulnerable people at the top of our minds.”

In response to a question about whether the chancellor had anything reassuring to say to the public, he said: “I dont think I do … I think that’s a fair comment but I think the thing that is most terrifying of all when you face very grave challenges.

“These are very serious times for all countries around the world and the worst thing any government can do is not be completely honest and transparent about the scale of the challenges.

“And I think, actually, I don’t want to say it’s reassuring, but I hope people understand that we are being straight about the scale of the challenges and I hope there are some reassurance in that honesty at least.”

Biden ‘no regrets’ over Truss criticism

US president Joe Biden’s press spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre has said he did not regret his criticism of Liz Truss’ “mini-budget”.

During a visit to an ice cream parlour in Oregon he said it was “predictable” she had to U-turn on her policies. The comments into the domestic policy of its ally were seen as being highly unusual.

Biden said: “I wasn’t the only one that thought it was a mistake.

“I think that the idea of cutting taxes on the super-wealthy at a time when … I disagree with the policy, but it’s up to Britain to make that judgment, not me.”

Jean-Pierre was asked whether Biden regretted it today by Jeff Mason, Reuters’ White House Correspondent.

“No”, Jean-Pierre said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was also addressing his MPs, at the meeting of the parliamentary Labour party this evening.

After Jeremy Hunt had been giving his statement in the commons on the reversal of measures in the “mini-budget”, Starmer focused his attack on him and his appointment as chancellor.

According to Kevin Schofield of HuffPost UK, he said: “If you ever needed a sign of a dying government, it’s surely the return of Jeremy Hunt just in time for the horror show that is going to be their Halloween budget.

“The man who butchered the NHS, risen from his political grave, shoring up this night of the living dead government and taking the reaper’s scythe to what remains of public services after 12 years of the Tories.”

Truss tells One Nation group ‘mistakes have been made’

The first signs of what Liz Truss told the One Nation group of Conservative MPs this evening are emerging, after party chairman Jake Berry spoke to journalists outside the meeting.

Berry said there had been a focus on “unity”.

“The prime minister started by saying that mistakes have been made, she acknowledged them, she is bringing the party together,” PA Media reported.

“Colleagues who were there [were] very heavily focused on unity. Matt Hancock made a really good intervention, saying that now is the time for unity, we’ve got to get behind the PM.”

On the theme of spending cuts, which Treasury select committee chair Mel Stride suggested earlier might be necessary to balance the government’s budget, the general secretary of trade union Unison Christina McAnea has said further cuts would have a big impact on public services.

After LBC presenter Andrew Marr suggested that cuts could mean 15% less spending for departments, she said: “It would be an utter disaster. I have negotiated with Jeremy Hunt in the past in the years of austerity and we were told we were all in this together but we are yet to see the results of that.

“I know the people who I represent, the nurses, the paramedics, people who work in the NHS are already feeling the strain. They feel, yet again, they are the ones who will be asked to pay the price of the government’s total and utter disaster.

“A big part of this is down to this government trying to take this huge gamble with the British public and the British finances.

“Cutting public services won’t help grow the economy. It didn’t help during austerity and it won’t help if they try and do it again.”

Starmer accuses Truss of ‘hiding away’ from questions on Kwarteng sacking – video

The chair of the Treasury select committee has said the government will have to consider spending cuts to close its £40bn “fiscal black hole”.

Mel Stride, a Conservative MP who had been critical of the “mini-budget”, said he had warned during the summer’s leadership campaign that Liz Truss’ tax plans would trigger problems in the financial markets.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, he said: “I think it’s undeniably the case, unfortunately, that [Rishi Sunak], I, and many others at the time did warn that if you plunge into very large-scale unfunded tax cuts at a time of high inflation, tight labour markets, and sluggish growth, you are likely to spook the markets.”

He added: ““[Hunt] has diminished the size of the fiscal black hole by £32bn. That is an eye watering amount, basically by rolling back on just about everything in the mini Budget. But I think the OBR is probably sitting on a figure for that fiscal hole of about £70bn or £72bn. So he’s still got another £40bn to go. He’s under half way.”

Stride suggested spending cuts may follow. “That’s where the really difficult stuff is going to start happening. Because without leaning into spending in a meaningful way, it’s very difficult to see how he’s going to close that gap down.”

Liz Truss is currently addressing the One Nation group of MPs in her latest attempt to win over Tories, with dozens reportedly attending according to those outside.

As ever for these meetings, journalists are judging Truss’ reception by the volume of audible desk banging going as she makes her entrance. The political editor of Byline Times, Adam Bienkov, describes it as “the barest minimum”.

Polling expert John Curtice has said that historical precedent means the Conservative party cannot win the next election, and that the challenge facing the government was the combination of both Black Wednesday and the 1976 crisis when the Labour government was forced to seek an IMF bailout.

In an interview with GB News, Curtice said: “Well, history would suggest that it can’t, because of course what essentially is happening to this government is a repetition of Black Wednesday 30 years ago in September 1992 with, by the way, a Labour fiscal crisis of 1976 wrapped into it as well.

“In the wake of Black Wednesday, that Conservative administration was unable ever to recover politically. Its reputation for economic competence was trashed. It suffered a 7.5 points swing in the polls within a month and that then got even bigger to the kinds of numbers that we’ve now been seeing in the wake of this crash and, of course, John Major became a deeply unpopular prime minister.

“Now the one thing of course, that didn’t happen after 1992 was that the Conservative party didn’t change its leader, it changed its chancellor eventually, but it didn’t change its leader. John Major did subsequently himself call a leadership contest which he fought out with John Redwood, but one he won fairly comes from fairly comfortably.

“History would suggest that perhaps the one card that might be left for the Conservative Party that certainly wasn’t played in 1992 would be to replace the prime minister but certainly history suggests that governments that preside over fiscal crises struggle at the ballot box at the next election.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2022/oct/17/jeremy-hunt-mini-budget-liz-truss-conservatives-labour-tax-uk-politics-live Liz Truss admits ‘mistakes have been made’ as Jeremy Hunt says ‘eye-watering’ decisions on tax and spending need to be made – live | Politics

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