MPs support motion for Truss and Kwarteng to lose at least £6,000 severance pay

Former prime minister Liz Truss and ex-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. Credit: PA

MPs have thrown their support behind a Commons motion calling for Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng to waive at least £6,000 of their ministerial severance payments.

Ms Truss announced her resignation after just 45 days as leader, becoming the shortest serving prime minister in British history.

Politicians and workers' unions have called upon Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng not to accept severance packages.

Many blame the pair's mini-budget, which was comprised of the biggest raft of tax-cuts in half a century, for lasting damage to the economy.

Shadow communities secretary Lisa Nandy told the Commons on Tuesday it is “obscene” the former prime minister is in line to receive a severance payment of “almost £19,000” and the ex-chancellor is “set to rake in £17,000”.

She insisted the government had a “clear choice today”, between standing up for people whose hopes and dreams have been “broken” following the “disastrous” mini budget, or to stand with Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng.T

The remarks from Ms Nandy came before MPs approved Labour’s motion “on the nod” without a formal vote.

The motion called for the censure of Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng following their “mismanagement of the economy” while in office and for them to “waive at least £6000 of their ministerial severance payments” if they have not already done so.

Lisa Nandy. Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

Opposition day motions are not binding, and while in the past governments always tried to vote them down, recent administrations prefer MPs to abstain in these votes and ignore them.

Housing minister Lucy Frazer told the lower chamber the government does not regard it “appropriate” to make arbitrary demands of individuals in relation to their entitlements as it is an “entirely discretionary” matter for the individuals concerned.

She said: “I just draw attention to the fact the benches opposite will be aware that the right honourable member for South West Norfolk (Ms Truss) and the right honourable member for Spelthorne (Mr Kwarteng) both served as ministers for a considerable amount of time before they were made prime minister and chancellor of the exchequer, and they therefore have a statutory entitlement.”

She added: “That’s not to say ministers are not able to waive such payments. That is not a matter for the government, (it) is entirely discretionary matter for individuals concerned.

"And the government doesn’t regard it as appropriate to make arbitrary demands of individuals in relation to their entitlements.”

The housing minister also claimed it was “wholly inaccurate” to blame the mini-budget for mortgage rate increases amidst jeers and heckles from the opposite benches.

Ms Frazer said: “I’d like to start by recognising, as the Prime Minister has done, mistakes have been made. Indeed, no government is immune from mistakes.

"But to suggest, as the Opposition has done, that these mistakes are the cause of a particular average increase in monthly mortgage rates is simply wholly inaccurate.”

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SNP MP David Linden (Glasgow East), intervening, said: “Could I just bring her back to this planet and reality for a little minute. Does she not understand that after the mini-budget there was a run on pensions, the Bank of England had to step in as a result of the mini budget?”

Ms Frazer, in her reply, said: “I don’t accept that there was a run on pensions. I do accept mistakes were made but what I would say is the Prime Minister is focusing on putting the economy on a strong fiscal path, taking the necessary decisions.”

Labour MP Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) later accused the housing minister of “rewriting history”.

After detailing the amounts Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng are due to receive in severance payments, Ms Nandy told the lower chamber: “That is more than many of my constituents earn in an entire year and they would have some brass neck to pocket that much for a job so atrociously done.”

Ms Truss was replaced as PM by Rishi Sunak after a short leadership race, in which he saw off a rival bid by Penny Mordaunt and support from some Tory party members for former leader Boris Johnson to throw his hat back in the ring.

In the weeks after he was sacked, Mr Kwarteng claimed he told Liz Truss to “slow down” her radical economic reforms or risk being out of No 10 within “two months”.

He also criticised the then-prime minister’s “mad” decision to fire him for implementing her tax-cutting agenda.