By Sarah Bates
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Liz Truss and tax cut-loving Tories put pressure on Rishi Sunak

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Former prime minister Liz Truss is stirring up revolt among backbench Tory MPs—but they all want to make us pay
Issue 2841
Liz Truss sits on a panel, looking pleased with herself

Liz Truss is back on the scene

The crisis in the Tory party is truly entering its whack-a-mole era—as one dilemma is resolved, a fresh chapter of chaos begins. This time, it’s disgraced former prime minister Liz Truss, who took to the weekend papers to defend her 49-day reign last year.

She claimed, in an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, that she was pushed out as prime minister by a “powerful left wing economic establishment”.

Truss also opened a broadside against current Tory prime minister Rishi Sunak on Monday in her first speech since resigning. She called for the government to take a more aggressive stance against China.

As prime minister, Truss tried to push through tax cuts for the rich. She detonated an economic crisis that almost brought down the pensions industry and saw interest rates soar.

She said at the time that this was the method that would get the British economy growing. But even market forces baulked at the effects.

They didn’t like that the ­government would have to borrow more. So they punished Truss by ­selling off their stocks of sterling to crash the value of the pound. 

Truss claims that she was stymied by elements of the political and financial elite who didn’t give her a chance to fully realise her fiscal plans. “I assumed upon entering Downing Street that my ­mandate would be respected and accepted. How wrong I was,” she said.

She is reflecting, from a very right wing place, the truth that it is the wholly undemocratic power of markets, banks and corporations that is decisive, not parliamentary politicians. Normally left governments get this treatment, but on this occasion it was a Tory regime.

Truss represents a section of Tory MPs who think her delivery was flawed but that her strategy was essentially correct. Backbencher Simon Clarke is setting up a new Conservative Growth Group to push for tax cuts and deregulation.

And Jake Berry, former Tory party chair said on Sunday that he stood with Truss’s “diagnosis of the disease that is facing the country.” “Her point of we need to lower taxes, we need to create a growing economy, that’s what people want,” he said.

Now Sunak, who initially promised “integrity, professionalism and accountability”, has been immersed in his own scandals. Last month he had to get rid of Nadhim Zahawi as Conservative Party chair for not paying tax.

Nick Timothy, the former chief adviser to prime minister Theresa May, has warned that “supporters of Boris Johnson are also on manoeuvres”.

Both sides of the Tory split will now be pressuring Sunak and chancellor Jeremy Hunt over the budget on 15 March. But we can guarantee that they will all want workers to pay for inflation and recession.

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