‘Do the same as Thatcher’ David Davis outlines Truss plan for survival

Liz Truss urged to emulate Thatcher by David Davis

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David Davis has outlined a plan for the Prime Minister to re-establish authority over the Tories after members of her own party threatened to revolt over concerns with the Chancellor’s mini-budget. Following a dramatic U-turn on tax cuts, Liz Truss is set to deliver a speech to the Conservative conference in Birmingham in a bid to unite her party. Mr Davis suggested the Prime Minister needed to behave more in line with the actions of famed Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher if she hoped to stump a growing atmosphere of dissent among Tory MPs.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Davis said: “It’s been a poor start, let’s be clear about that, but the aims that Liz Truss has put up – growth, the economy, getting out of the state we’re in at the moment – everybody will agree with. The question is how will they do it? 

“Unfortunately, the mini-budget was a very poor start. What she has got to do is recover from that. Her speech is incredibly important and she will be very nervous about that.”

Radio host Nick Robinson asked: “Recover by doing what?”

The Tory MP asserted: “Primarily by trying to exercise real leadership over the Conservative party in Parliament.”

Mr Davis continued: “At the end of the day, all leaders serve, if not at the behest, at least at the tolerance of the party in Parliament. Most of them, if not all of them, actually agree with her overall aim, the question is how you do it.

“She models herself on Thatcher – she should actually, really model herself on Thatcher. Thatcher was strategically terribly bold but also tactically incredibly careful – she should do the same.

“One of the controversies, let’s say cutting benefits, that’s not a real option – Margaret Thatcher would have never tried that under these circumstances.”

The Conservative MP suggested Ms Truss would spark a crisis of support in her leadership if she attempted to refuse an inflation-respective increase to benefits payments amid the cost of living crisis.

Read more: Liz Truss demands end to Tory infighting as she pushes for growth

The Prime Minister has consistently refused to clarify her personal position on the benefits debate, despite pressure from both the opposition as well as from within the Conservative Party.

Leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt has explicitly stated her support for a rise in benefits payments to match the soaring rate of inflation.

Under Boris Johnson’s government, a promise had already been made to increase benefits in line with inflationary changes and Ms Truss has been urged to continue with this policy.

Backbench MPs have echoed the sentiments of Ms Mordaunt, suggesting the Prime Minister could be met with widespread criticism if she turns on the policy pledges of her predecessor.

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Mr Davis warned the Prime Minister should “pay attention to her backbenchers” in order to prevent divisions within the Conservative Party from fracturing any further.

While other Cabinet Ministers have rallied behind the Prime Minister, the statement of Ms Mordaunt regarding benefits policy has suggested the Tory revolt could already have infiltrated the highest ranks of government.

In her speech to conclude the Tory conference, Ms Truss is expected to urge party members to support the remnants of the Chancellor’s growth plan.

She will call for an end to “drift and delay” tactics and reinforce an image of the Government’s mini-budget as a shake-up of the economy in order to drive investment and business expansion. 

Mr Davis indicated that a failure to unite the party could result in the Conservatives losing their grip on power in the next general election. 

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