The backlash from Tory MPs that forced Truss and Kwarteng to ditch 45p tax rate

Credit: PA

Yesterday, at Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Kwasi Kwarteng saw backbench MP after backbench MP to talk about his budget measures and try to persuade them to back them.

But the response he got (in person and from other MPs via their whips) was pretty universal- from those on the more liberal wing of the party- and those on the right: please don't keep the 45p tax cut in place.

One told me Kwarteng argued that he had failed to "roll the pitch" properly before announcing the policy - though he stuck to the principle.

The U-turn comes after days of rising angst in the Tory party. Credit: PA

It's surprising it took so long. From the Monday after the mini-Budget, when the markets reacted so strongly, Tory MPs have been increasingly nervous. Conversations with constituents (and jawdropping polls) have only confirmed their fears.

The country did not want a tax cut for the mega-rich while everyone else was struggling so badly. One expert told me the chancellor had used his budget to give the City "everything they lobbied for" but added, "even they weren't asking for the 45p policy".

Yesterday anger grew when party chair, Jake Berry, said MPs would lose the whip if they voted against the measure. One MP told me - "that just made more likely to rebel".

And certainly, some were lining up to criticise the Chancellor - some publicly like Julian Smith and Maria Caulfield, who tweeted that she was a working class MP who couldn't back the policy - and if that meant the party "don't want this working class MP, fair enough".

The chats at conference suggested 40 MPs might rebel in a Commons vote - and given budgets usually are seen as confidence matters, that felt unmanageable.

Others didn't threaten to rebel but did speak out - like Damian Green who chairs the more liberal One Nation group of MPs. He told a rally for the group that if the party support the “already rich” then “people will stop voting for us”. He called for moderate Tories to have a “strong” voice.

Liz Truss at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. Credit: PA

In the bars and cafes of the conference - conversations were even turning to whether there might be need for a new leader (though few thought that was realistic so soon after they pushed Boris Johnson out). One suggested that Michael Gove might even have a chance. Another asked if Rishi Sunak could come in as a caretaker.

In the end - conversations taking place and the terrible public reaction were distracting for the party and it's new leadership and that's why, despite defending the policy yesterday they changed course.