Liz Truss's new Cabinet race to hash out energy crisis plan as brutal reshuffle continues

The cost of energy is already pushing many families to breaking point and Liz Truss's plan may be too little too late - Ellie Pitt reports

Liz Truss's new Cabinet met for the first time on Wednesday morning and set to work on hashing out an emergency plan to tackle soaring energy prices.

The prime minister's official spokesman said Ms Truss used her debut meeting to outline "the challenges facing the UK" and set out three key priorities - to grow the economy, deal with the immediate energy crisis and tackle the NHS backlog.

She told her team that the country was "facing global headwinds caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine and the aftermath of the pandemic but that the country was in a good position to weather the storm".

Her new Cabinet members were seen beaming as they headed into No 10 on their first day in their new jobs, ahead of Ms Truss's first face-off against Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions.

The new PM received a grilling over how she intends to fund her energy rescue package and was accused of leaving it up to households and small businesses to "foot the bill" after she ruled out a windfall tax on big energy companies.

Ms Truss told the Commons she will take "immediate action" to help households and that plans to do so will be announced on Thursday morning in an address to the nation.

The energy crisis has remained at the top of Ms Truss's agenda since she entered office and has dominated her talks with international leaders.

The situation was discussed with German Chancellor Olaf Sholz on Wednesday, No 10 said.

A No10 spokesperson said: "Both agreed on the importance of energy resilience and independence.

“The Prime Minister underlined the importance of ensuring democracy and freedom were upheld in Europe, and of protecting countries made vulnerable by Russia’s economic blackmail."

The Northern Ireland Protocol was also discussed, something that Ms Truss wants to reform against the EU's wishes.

Businesses are facing a crisis as energy bills force them to consider closing - Ian Woods reports

Shortly after PMQs, her brutal reshuffle continued - this time focusing on junior ministers.

After culling most Rishi Sunak supporters, Ms Truss spared Robert Jenrick - a high-profile backer of her former leadership opponent - who has been made health minister.

The former housing secretary will be working under Health Secretary Therese Coffey.

Fellow Sunak supporter, Victoria Prentis, was made work and pensions minister, along with another Sunak-backer Will Quince made health and social care minister.

Other appointments announced include Baroness Williams of Trafford as Chief Whip in the Lords, Rachel Maclean as justice minister, Julia Lopez as digital and culture minister, and Michael Tomlinson was made solicitor general.

Sir Tim Barrow has also been appointed as the PM's national security adviser, while Mark Spencer - who was chief whip and then leader of the Commons under Boris Johnson - has been made a minister in the environment and food department.

Jesse Norman and Leo Docherty have been given ministerial roles in the Foreign Office, while Tom Pursglove and Jeremy Quin have Home Office jobs.

Jackie Doyle-Price takes up a role in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, while Conor Burns goes to the Department for International Trade.

Alec Shelbrooke has been handed a post in the Ministry of Defence while James Duddridge has got a role in the Department for International Trade, and Kelly Tolhurst and Steve Baker have been made ministers in the Department for Education and the Northern Ireland Office, respectively.

Nusrat Ghani has been made a minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Kevin Foster has also been given a role in the Department for Transport.

Ms Truss and her new-look Cabinet are expected to be up until the early hours finalising plans for a multi-billion package to freeze energy bills.

New Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has summoned the bosses of major banks to discuss the new economic strategy, and met earlier with Governor of Bank of England Andrew Bailey.

Ms Truss conducted a major overhaul to leave few survivors from Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, as she failed to find a role for her leadership rival Mr Sunak.

Official portraits of Prime Minister Liz Truss’s newly formed Cabinet Credit: UK Parliament/PA

Instead, she rewarded allies with the top jobs in her Cabinet, including close friend Therese Coffey, who was made deputy PM and health secretary, while Ben Wallace was appointed defence secretary, James Cleverly got foreign secretary and Anne-Marie Trevelyan is transport secretary.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the hardline Brexiteer who has decried “climate alarmism”, was appointed as secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.

Her press secretary insisted the changes would “unify” the Tory party, pointing to senior roles for five leadership rivals, Penny Mordaunt, Tom Tugendhat, Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenoch and Nadhim Zahawi.

The appointments of Mr Kwarteng, Mr Cleverly and Ms Braverman mean that for the first time in history none of the great offices of state are held by white men.

Meanwhile, Dominic Raab, Grant Shapps, George Eustice and Steve Barclay were among the Sunak supporters being dispatched to the backbenches.

Although one of the new administration's main focuses will be tackling the NHS crisis, new health secretary Therese Coffey said the health service's "budget will remain the same"

On Wednesday, Ms Coffey told ITV News her focus for the NHS will be how best to clear hospital beds to avoid further ambulance delays and ensure patients get access to urgent treatment.

She said: "The health and social care budget will remain the same. It is important we focus on what it is that is holding up people staying in hospital when they don't need clinically to be there.

"I'll be working through with my officials on how we can work on that. What matters is that people get treated and that's what my focus is going to be on.

"ABCD - ambulances, backlogs, care, and doctors and dentists."  

While carrying out her reshuffle, Ms Truss made her first call to a fellow foreign leader, to President Volodymyr Zelensky, accepting an invitation to visit his nation soon.

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She went on to speak to Joe Biden, with the White House’s account of the call making clear the US president stressed the need to come to an agreement with the EU over post-Brexit legislation on Northern Ireland.

In his final address before leaving No 10, Mr Johnson said he would be offering the government “nothing but my most fervent support”.

But he fuelled suspicion he could be plotting a comeback by saying like Cincinnatus, the Roman statesman, he would be “returning to my plough”.

Before entering No 10, an ambitious Mr Johnson had frequently said he would become prime minister if he was “called from my plough”.