Liz Truss says sorry for ‘mistakes’ but vows to stay on as PM

Liz Truss has 'weeks rather than months' left says Neil

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Liz Truss said sorry, insisting she is staying on as Prime Minister. Asked if she would “stick around” as PM, she told the BBC’s Chris Mason: “I’m sticking around because I was elected to deliver for this country. And that is what I am determined to do.” The pledge comes as Ms Truss tonight held a drinks reception with Cabinet ministers and met centrists in the Conservative party as she scrambled to stay in post. Ms Truss struck a contrite tone, telling the BBC: “I do want to accept responsibility and say sorry, for the mistakes that have been made. I wanted to act, but to help people with their energy bills, to deal with the issue of high taxes, but we went too far and too fast.”

Asked by Mr Mason if she would lead the Tories into the next election, Ms Truss said: “I will lead the Conservatives into the next general election… I’m not focused on internal debates within the Conservative Party.”

She continued: “The important thing is that I’ve been elected to this position to deliver for the country. We are facing very tough times. We simply cannot afford to spend our time talking about the Conservative Party, rather than what we need to deliver. That is my message to my colleagues.”

On whether she was worried about being ejected from office, Ms Truss said: “What I’m worried about is delivering for the people of Britain.”

In another turbulent day, new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt tore up Ms Truss’s tax-cutting plan for growth. By early evening, five Tory MPs said the Prime Minister must go but senior figures warned it was time to get behind Ms Truss. A Government source said the PM understands it is “quite an important 24 to 48 hours” to win over MPs.

Labour tried to haul the Prime Minister before the Commons to explain the radical changes but Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt appeared on her behalf. She insisted Ms Truss was “not under a desk” after the Opposition claimed the PM was hiding. Ms Mordaunt apologised for the uncertainty that the country has faced over recent weeks.

She said: “And I am sorry that the events leading to the changes today have added to the concerns about the major volatility that was already there existing in the economy. That’s why we are putting it right today.”

Senior Tory Sir Charles Walker became the fifth Conservative MP to publicly for Ms Truss to quit, saying her position is “untenable”.

“She has put colleagues, the country, through a huge amount of unnecessary pain and upset and worry,” he said. “We don’t need a disruptor in No 10. We need a uniter.” The situation “can only be remedied” with “a new prime minister,” he said.

He gave Ms Truss another “week or two” before she steps down or is forced to resign, adding that he is “so cross” about how “catastrophically incompetent” the Government has been.

Treasury select committee chairman Mel Stride, who supported Rishi Sunak in the leadership contest, was holding a dinner with MPs on Monday night where the Prime Minister’s future was on the agenda. Mr Sunak is one of the names Tories are discussing as a potential successor to Ms Truss.

But one Whitehall source said the “bad sentiment” towards the ex-Chancellor “still stands” after he helped to bring down Boris Johnson and there were fears among some MPs that Mordaunt, another name tipped for the job, would be “Liz mark two”.

They said the party is “not known for agreeing” but if it is “serious about doing this” it has to find one candidate quickly. Another insider suggested Ms Truss will survive for now because a replacement cannot be agreed on and there will be a “protracted death”.

The source described Mr Sunak’s supporters as being “coy” about his next move because the ex-Chancellor does not want to look like the “silver medallist going up to collect gold”.

They said the party will have to make some “pretty stern decisions in the next 48 hours”.

Ms Truss told the BBC: “Well my message to my colleagues is yes, I completely acknowledge that there have been mistakes. I have acted swiftly to fix those mistakes. I’ve been honest about what those mistakes were. And what we now need to do is move forward and deliver for the country because that’s ultimately what people care about.

“People care about us delivering and that’s what we as elected politicians need to focus on.”

Pressed to confirm if she would stay on despite disastrous poll ratings for the Tories, she added: “I will stay in the job to deliver for the national interest.”

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee is said by people in the party to be “taking stock” over what its response should be if there are significant demands from MPs to oust the Prime Minister.

A resignation by a Cabinet minister this week would push the Prime Minister to the precipice. Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis wants the Prime Minister to be given a chance.

A source said: “He thinks the last thing the party and indeed the country needs is this sort of destabilisation. Members can’t keep voting for their leaders and MPs tell them they are wrong.”

Ex-Cabinet Minister Nadine Dorries said: “There is no unity candidate. No one has enough support. Only one MP has a mandate from party members and from the British public – a mandate with an 80 seat majority – Boris Johnson. The choices are simple – back Liz, if not bring back Boris or face a general election within weeks.”

A Conservative MP accused the Tory membership of making the “wrong” decision when they elected Ms Truss as leader in September.

Sir Roger Gale said: “I think Members of Parliament probably have a better perspective of both the economic situation and the personalities than the general membership.

“For very good reason – we know them, we work with them day by day. The general membership doesn’t and that’s understandable, and I don’t think we should expect – not even to blame – the membership for getting it wrong.”

He said that replacing the Prime Minister would require a “coronation” but at the moment “I see no single agreed candidate within the party”.

Damian Green, former deputy prime minister, said it would be best for the party if “we don’t have another leadership campaign”.

“I think the general public would be entitled to look pretty askance at that – and so the ideal outcome for the country most importantly, but also, as it happens, for the Conservative Party, is for the Government to succeed,” he said.

“I think the appointment of Jeremy Hunt and what he’s done so far shows us a way that we can do that and if we continue on that course then we will get back the stability that everyone is crying out for.”

Asked if Mr Sunak was right to warn of dire economic consequences if she cut taxes, she said: “We had a very robust leadership campaign this summer where we debated ideas, we debated philosophy…

“I’m committed to a low tax high growth economy, but I have to reflect the real issues we face and my responsibility as Prime Minister is making sure we have economic stability, that we protect people’s jobs. 

“We’ve got the lowest unemployment since 1974. And we get through this very difficult winter. What I have delivered is we’ve already reversed the National Insurance increase which is important for families. We’ve also delivered on the energy price guarantee.”

And asked if her vision for Britain is dead, she replied: “What I’m focused on is delivering on energy supplies, on delivering new roads, new opportunities across our country. We have to make sure though, that we have economic stability, and that has to be my priority as Prime Minister.”

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