Keir Starmer: Labour leader calls for general election - what he said about Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng

The Labour leader said that replacing ousted Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng with Jeremy Hunt does not “undo the damage made in Downing Street”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a general election after Liz Truss’ premiership was thrown into more chaos.

In the aftermath of Ms Truss’ press conference at Downing Street today (14 October), in which announced a major mini budget U-turn and spoke of her decision to sack Kwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Labour Party leader turned to Twitter to voice his thoughts.

He wrote: “Changing the Chancellor doesn’t undo the damage made in Downing Street. Liz Truss’ reckless approach has crashed the economy, causing mortgages to skyrocket, and has undermined Britain’s standing on the world stage.

“We need a change in government. With my leadership, Labour will secure Britain’s economy and get us out of this mess.”

His words come amidst a day of political chaos. In addition to removing Kwarteng from the Cabinet, who has been replaced as Chancellor by Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Truss has also scrapped plans to cancel the corporation tax increase. The levy is now due to rise from 19% to 25%, as initially planned by former Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer has called for a general election. Credit: PALeader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer has called for a general election. Credit: PA
Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer has called for a general election. Credit: PA

Truss told the press conference that while her “mission” to deliver a “low tax, high wage, high growth economy” remains, it had become clear to her that the government‘s mini budget had gone “further and faster than [the financial markets had] expected.” She said therefore “we need to act now to reassure the markets of our fiscal discipline.

But Starmer and other opposition MPs are not satisfied with the announcement, arguing too much “damage” has already been done. Many have cited the impacts on mortgage rates and pensions as examples of the fallout prompted by the mini budget announced on 23 September.

Speaking on today’s events, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “This is a Tory crisis, created in Downing Street but being paid for by ordinary working people - and so much damage has already been done, with families paying higher mortgage rates and worrying about their pensions.

“It’s not just time for another Conservative Party chancellor, it’s time for a Labour Party government, because only Labour has the plans to grow our economy and provide the economic stability that our country desperately needs, with a recognition that wealth does not just come from the top down - it’s created by ordinary working people right across the country.”

Starmer is not alone in his desire for a general election - Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey has joined the calls too. He told BBC News: “Liz Truss has trashed the British economy, she’s put hundreds of pounds on people’s mortgages, and she’s humiliated the Conservative government in the eyes of the world.

“People are angry, they are fed up, and they’re worried about the future, but above all, they are furious with this Conservative Party, so I think it’s time they had their say – it’s time for a general election.”

As for reaction from the Tories themselves, it’s a somewhat mixed bag. Senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin has urged his colleagues to stop “rash talk of ditching” Truss and called for “calm”.

He wrote on Twitter: “The appointment of @Jeremy_Hunt as Chancellor is a wise choice. He is trusted and respected across Parliament. We must now be calm - rash talk of ditching the [Prime Minister], or calls for a general election, will not calm the financial markets.”

Liz Truss speaks at a press conference at Downing Street. Credit: Getty ImagesLiz Truss speaks at a press conference at Downing Street. Credit: Getty Images
Liz Truss speaks at a press conference at Downing Street. Credit: Getty Images

But others have not shared his philosophy. Although senior backbencher Sir Roger Gale also praised the appointment of “experienced” Hunt, he questioned why Kwarteng had been dismissed for implementing the Prime Minister’s own economic policies. He said it’s “hard to understand why the Prime Minister has sacked her Chancellor – a good man – for promoting the policies upon which she was elected.”

It is not the first time this week Truss has been criticised by her own party. At a brutal meeting with the backbench 1922 Committee on Wednesday (12 October), which the Prime Minister had originally called in an attempt to quell discord within her party, Tory MPs openly discussed the prospect of ousting their leader and slammed her for “trashing the last ten years” of the Conservative Party’s record.

Backbenchers slammed her “appalling” PMQs performance and urged for a reversal of her £43 billion tax-cutting package. One of the main requests was for a U-turn on the government’s corporation tax policy.

The Prime Minister has now conceded on this point, but with rumours now spreading of a plot to replace her with her Tory leadership race opponents Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, only time will tell whether or not Truss manages to regain the support of her party, let alone of the public.