Liz Truss faces a humiliating clash with Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday after being forced to U-turn on her entire economic strategy and with her leadership in peril.
The Prime Minister will face the Labour leader in Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) for the first time since new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt ripped up her plan for tax cuts and increased public borrowing in a bid to stabilise the markets.
The major U-turn saw almost all of the measures set out by former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s £43 billion mini-budget scrapped in Hunt’s emergency statement on Monday.
Several Tory MPs have now called for Truss to go while other senior figures within the party expressed deep unease with her leadership over plans for public spending cuts across all departments, after Mr Hunt warned of decisions of “eye-watering difficulty” to plug the government’s multibillion-pound financial black hole.
What time is PMQs today?
Prime Minister’s Questions will take place at its usual time of midday (12pm), with the session lasting for about half an hour.
How can I watch PMQs live?
PMQs is available to watch live on BBC News and Sky News, or online through BBC iPlayer and the Sky News live YouTube feed.
It is also broadcast live on the UK Parliament YouTube channel or you can watch all the action via a live stream on this page.
What is Liz Truss expected to say?
Truss will be challenged over the rationale behind last month’s mini-budget and the subsequent U-turn on the measures to manage its consequences.
The PM also faced further turmoil on Tuesday (18 October) after the Bank of England announced its emergency support operation to protect pension funds would end this week.
In addition, The Times reported that the Chancellor is considering postponing by a year the cap on the sum people pay for care in old age. Treasury sources did not deny the policy could be delayed, pointing to the Chancellor’s statement that “nothing is off the table”.
An admission from Downing Street that Truss could ditch the key manifesto commitment to increase state pensions in line with inflation sparked a swift backlash. The PM’s official spokesperson said she is “not making any commitments on individual policy areas” ahead of the Hunt’s fiscal plan on 31 October.
Tory backbencher Maria Caulfield said she “will not be voting to end the pensions triple lock”, with former minister Steve Double joining her in saying: “Nor me.”
Stephen Crabb, the former work and pensions secretary, told the Telegraph it is “not the time to consider abandoning the triple lock” and that “maintaining the value of the state pension during the cost-of-living crisis is essential”.
However, the Prime Minister reiterated her pledge to boost defence spending after the armed forces minister publicly threatened to resign if it was broken. She said she stood by her promise in a meeting with Tory MPs from the European Research Group (ERG) – one in a series of gatherings aimed at shoring up her ailing position.
Truss also told the group that she found axing her tax-slashing programme “painful” and did it “because she had to”, according to her deputy press secretary.
Is Liz Truss expected to last as PM?
Former Cabinet minister Michael Gove said it was a matter of time before Ms Truss is ousted as Prime Minister as he warned Britons to expect “a hell of a lot of pain in the next two months”.
Asked at a private event on Tuesday whether it was no longer a question of whether Truss goes, but when, Mr Gove agreed that was “absolutely right”, the Guardian reported.
However, Welsh Secretary Sir Robert Buckland warned colleagues considering removing Truss to “be careful what you wish for”. He told BBC Newsnight: “The more the Conservative Party change leaders, the stronger the case for a general election becomes.
“I say to my colleagues, be careful what you wish for. An early election serves nobody any good, not least the Conservative Party and certainly not the country.”
A meeting between Mr Hunt, who is widely seen as effectively in control, and Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbenchers, likely fuelled further questions about the Prime Minister’s future.
Treasury sources said it was a briefing ahead of Mr Hunt’s 1922 appearance on Wednesday, but it is likely that Truss’s imperilled premiership came up.
One of the factors keeping Truss in office, despite being forced to abandon the economic platform that got her elected as party leader, is the lack of an obvious successor. Conservative MPs are reluctant to have another leadership contest involving the party membership, which could take months and further damage the party.