Tory 1922 Committee has 'not discussed' ousting Liz Truss, executive member insists

ITV News has been told that the 1922 Committee has 'not discussed' ousting Liz Truss. Credit: PA

The removal of Liz Truss as prime minister has not been discussed by the only group able to sack her, ITV News has been told.

Ms Truss is under intense pressure to resign after sacking former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng over the shambolic mini-budget, with several Tories privately saying she should quit and at least five MPs doing so publicly.

But the 1922 Committee, a group which represents the interests of backbench Tories and has the ability to oust the party leader, has not discussed Ms Truss's position, a member of the committee's executive has said.

John Stevenson, the Conservative MP for Carlisle, told ITV's Tom Sheldrick that her removal had not been a topic at recent meetings and "we may not even discuss it at the next meeting". 

This comes despite speculation that she was being urged to step down by the group's chairman, Sir Graham Brady, during a meeting the pair held on Monday.

The PM was absent from a House of Commons debate in order to attend the meeting, leading to the speculation, but she was present in a subsequent debate, sitting alongside her new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, whose first move in the job was to almost entirely scrap the mini-budget.

Ms Truss appeared unreactive and stared straight ahead as Mr Hunt reversed her fiscal policies, including a number of tax cuts, following the turbulence they caused in the UK economy after financial markets reacted poorly to her plans.

The U-turn was welcomed by both the markets and many Tory MPs, but others claimed her move to sack Mr Kwarteng effectively made his successor the prime minister, given the unparalleled power he now has over economic policy.

Jeremy Hunt reversed 'almost all' the tax cuts that had been mooted in the mini-budget by his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng. Credit: PA

Calls for her to resign grew after his dismissal and those desperate to oust her began plotting about how to do so. 

But under the rules of the 1922 Committee, Ms Truss is safe from a vote of no confidence by her party until a year after her election.

The group is able to change its own rules at any time and could do so if enough MPs demand a confidence vote, however former Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries said the committee would be a "laughing stock" if it did.

Asked about changing the rules, Mr Stevenson said: "I don't want to comment on any discussions that the 1922 may or may not have. the rules are in place and that's how they should stay at this moment in time."

Another concern among backbenchers is that about the optics of giving the approximately 160,000 Tory party members another chance to elect Britain's prime minister.

And in a bid to avoid another protracted leadership contest, in which candidates would tear each other apart for several weeks, some have suggested party members could be bypassed from the system if Tory MPs could agree a single candidate to succeed Ms Truss.

Names being suggested include two of the PM's former leadership rivals, Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said suggestions of a unity candidate to replace Liz Truss as prime minister is “for the birds”.

He added: "The idea that there is somebody who could emerge and behind whom everybody in the parliamentary party and our membership unites, and the country forgets about everything that has happened for the last 15 months or so and we’re just allowed to get on with it, I just don’t think that is the case.”

But Ms Truss needs to unite her party if she is to stand any chance of leading it into the next election.

Former cabinet minister Liam Fox said the prime minister was on "thin" ice but that the priority for MPs was economic and political stability.

"I wouldn't want to underestimate the political pressures, but what I would say that MPs are thinking, today especially, very much about the economic position, maintaining market confidence and ensuring we don't have any unnecessary political upsets," he told ITV News.

Crispin Blunt, Andrew Bridgen and Jamie Wallis all called on the prime minister to quit on Sunday, with Charles Walker and Mr Fox joining them on Monday and Tuesday.

The prime minister has apologised for the way her government has performed during her first six weeks in power.

She told the BBC she wanted to “accept responsibility and say sorry for the mistakes that have been made”.

“I wanted to act… to help people with their energy bills, to deal with the issue of high taxes, but we went too far and too fast. I’ve acknowledged that,” she said.

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