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UK Politics Live: Liz Truss Faces Deepening Turmoil After Day Of Chaos

Key events

A member of the 1922 Committee has told ITV News’ Paul Brand that the “odds are against” Liz Truss surviving the day as prime minister.

Another Tory MP has told him that Truss will last until 31 October because there is no agreement on how to remove her from office.

One member of 1922 executive tells me “odds are against” Liz Truss surviving the day as PM.

Committee is expected to meet later to discuss the leadership crisis.

— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) October 20, 2022

Martin Belam

Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative chair of the commons defence select committee, has called for Liz Truss to “honestly address the question of her leadership” with cabinet and the 1922 committee after Jeremy Hunt’s fiscal statement on 31 October.

He told viewers of Sky News that if Conservatives “don’t park the blue-on-blue action” they could be out of government for a generation. Speaking in what Kay Burley described as “a very angry tone I’m picking up this morning”, he said:

We’re here to serve the British people who are watching this day by day and they want leadership. In my view this crisis requires a two phase plan if we want to prevent a collapse of government. Stage one is the collective discipline to allow the chancellor to complete his economic update that both the markets and indeed the nation are waiting for. So we get some stability and predictability about energy bills, about pensions, about benefits, about mortgage interest rates. Sorting the economy out must be our priority.

During this time, I say to colleagues, that the steady very public drip feed against the prime minister is not in the national interest. By all means submit your letter to Graham Brady if you are inclined, but let Jeremy Hunt complete his task. Because if we implode before then, the instability would lead to a run on the pound, interest rates climbing further, and it would put us into opposition for a generation.

And the second phase would be for the prime minister to show and commit now to honestly addressing this question of her leadership with the 1922 Committee and the cabinet. But after that fiscal statement next week.

This would help move the entire debate behind closed doors, rather than the reputationally damaging public soap opera that this is now becoming, and in worst case, triggering an early general election. Let’s grip the situation. Let’s start to control the agenda.

The chief whip, Wendy Morton, has been spotted entering Downing Street this morning following rumours that she had resigned from her role last night.

ITV News’ Robert Peston writes that there is a collective will among cabinet ministers that Liz Truss should stay in office till 31 October.

According to one minister, the PM may not be able to rely on her cabinet’s support to stay on till even then.

Talking to member of the cabinet last night, it’s clear there is a collective will among ministers to try to keep Liz Truss in office till 31 October, so that the chancellor can determine which further taxes need to rise and what spending should be cut in that de facto budget,…

— Robert Peston (@Peston) October 20, 2022 the medium term fiscal plan, without the instability of not knowing who will be next PM. But their loyalty to her extends no longer than Hallowe’en, and this minister also told me the cabinet’s support couldn’t even be guaranteed for just those seven days. For Truss, of…

— Robert Peston (@Peston) October 20, 2022 Any stay of execution gives Truss hope that she might be able to remain PM past Halloween, he writes. These 10 days are therefore a “theoretical lifeline”.

Here is the agenda for the day:

9.30am: The House of Commons will begin with digital, culture, media and sport questions.

10am: The public accounts committee will quiz senior HMRC officials on their annual accounts.

10.10am: Attorney general questions in the Commons. Urgent questions/statements will follow, including business questions.

10.45am: The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) will deliver its conclusions after a five-year national inquiry into decades of child sex abuse in Britain.

11am. The House of Lords will begin with questions on energy bills support for community spaces, unemployment figures and the responsibilities of the equalities minister.

11.45am. Debates in the Lords on the current level of violent crime and on the impact of the cost of living on public wellbeing.

10.10am: The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, will speak at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) annual congress in Brighton. He is expected to accuse Liz Truss of “insulting” British workers while pledging a Labour government will repeal any new Conservative legislation restricting the right to strike.

2pm: The UK Health Security Agency is expected to publish its weekly Covid-19 surveillance report.

Sir Graham Brady, the 1922 Committee chairman, is due to meet other 1922 officers today to discuss next steps.

The Conservative peer Ed Vaizey has echoed calls for Liz Truss to stand down and for somebody to be appointed as prime minister by Tory MPs.

It was clear from Suella Braverman’s resignation letter that Truss regards herself as a credible candidate to be prime minister, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said:

In terms of kind of shocking self-belief there will be at least five or six people out there who genuinely believe they could be the next prime minister. So if the Tory party cannot have a degree of self-knowledge and realise that the only way forward is to appoint someone they’re pretty much sunk.

The transport secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has insisted that she is still part of a functioning government.

Asked if Liz Truss is the best person the Conservatives can offer as prime minister, she told BBC Breakfast:

Yes, she was selected through a long and tortuous process over the summer.. by our members and that’s how the Conservative party system works to choose a leader and we stand firmly alongside her.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she admitted yesterday was a “turbulent” one with the resignation of Suella Braverman, but said Grant Shapps will now “pick up the reins” in the Home Office.

Asked to explain what happened at last night’s chaotic fracking vote, Trevelyan said the fracking vote “remained a three-line whip all the way through”.

The cabinet minister also told LBC that people should have confidence in the Conservative party because they are delivering an “important package of work” to provide “stability”.

She said:

Jeremy Hunt is the new chancellor, bringing in… a full package at the end of the month, so we want to give him the space to do that.

Seventh Tory MP calls for Liz Truss to goThe Conservative MP Gary Streeter has become the latest Tory to call for Liz Truss to go.

Streeter becomes the seventh Tory MP to publicly call for a change in leader.

Sadly, it seems we must change leader BUT even if the angel Gabriel now takes over, the Parliamentary Party has to urgently rediscover discipline, mutual respect and teamwork if we are to (i) govern the UK well and (ii) avoid slaughter at the next election.#lastchance

— Gary Streeter MP (@garystreeterSWD) October 20, 2022 The business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has denied Tory MPs were bullied and manhandled at last night’s fracking vote.

Rees-Mogg said “to characterise it as bullying is mistaken” and that a “perfectly normal discussion” had taken place with some MPs “who weren’t sure whether it was a confidence vote or not”, the Times reports.

The only physical contact was “a female affectionately patting somebody on the back”, he said.

He added that it would be “quite improper to manhandle people in the division lobby”.

The Labour MP, Chris Bryant, said he saw up to 20 MPs – including the deputy prime minister, Thérèse Coffey, and the business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg – surrounding Conservative MPs who were “wavering” on last night’s vote on fracking.

Bryant, who said he saw a Tory MP “manhandled”, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning:

It was very aggressive, very angry, there was a lot of shouting, there was a lot of pointing, gesticulating, there was at least one hand on another MP, and to me that was clear bullying, intimidation.

He added:

I saw a whole swathe of MPs effectively pushing one member straight through the door and I’ve seen photographic evidence of one MP’s hand on another.

He added that he had never seen scenes like those that unfolded last night. He said:

Honestly, this was the most extraordinary scene that I’ve seen in my time, and anyway, even if it has happened in the past, that is not how we should do our business – we are not the Italian parliament – and all of this is happening because there is complete chaos in government. There isn’t a government.

When the thread of government sort of falls apart, this is what will end up happening day in day out: you will just have complete and utter chaos. I had Tory MPs later in the evening literally, including one whip actually, crying on my shoulder. They are in the territory of being utterly desperate about what’s going on.

The Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, who has already called for Liz Truss to quit, has said the prime minister should be kicked out of No 10 today.

The PM’s position is “wholly untenable”, he told the BBC. He said:

One of the qualities she has shown is a lack of self-knowledge through this whole process because it ought to have been clear that she did not have the capacity to lead our party and I don’t think she should have put herself up for the leadership in the first place.

Tory MP says Liz Truss ‘has 12 hours to turn ship around’The Conservative MP, Simon Hoare, said today and tomorrow are “crunch days” for the government.

Asked if Liz Truss is “up to the job” of being prime minister, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was a “glass half full sort of person” but that the “score sheet isn’t looking very good”.

He said:

Can the ship be turned around? Yes. But I think there is about 12 hours to do it. I think today, tomorrow are crunch days.

He said he felt “anger, despair, sadness” as “good work which has been done over recent years appears to be dissolving before our eyes”.

There was a “growing sense of pessimism in all wings of the Tory party”, he added.

Here’s more from the transport secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who said Suella Braverman resigned as home secretary because she felt she had “let herself down” by breaching the ministerial code.

She told Sky News:

She resigned in her letter, which she put out yesterday, set out that she felt that she had fallen below the standard by breaching the ministerial code, by allowing documents to be shared … in an unsecure way.

And she felt that she had, you know, let herself down and therefore, as she is someone who has always worked to the highest standard, she is a woman of integrity, she felt she had to step down.

Pippa Crerar

We received this text from No 10 at 1.33am saying the fracking vote *was* a confidence vote after all … and that MPs who missed it would face “proportionate disciplinary action”, although it’s unclear what that means.

No 10 said:

The Prime Minister has full confidence in the Chief and Deputy Chief Whip. Throughout the day, the whips had treated the vote as a confidence motion. The minister at the despatch box was told, mistakenly, by Downing Street to say that it was not.

However, Conservative MPs were fully aware that the vote was subject to a three line whip. The whips will now be speaking to Conservative MPs who failed to support the government. Those without a reasonable excuse for failing to vote with the government can expect proportionate disciplinary action.

It looks like 36 Tory MPs missed the vote for various reasons, including those who got permission beforehand, including Boris Johnson who is on holiday in a luxury Caribbean resort. Initially it looked like Liz Truss herself had missed the vote, but we’re told she did in fact vote … just forgot to swipe her pass.

Things still aren’t clear though as the cabinet minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has just been on the radio …

UPDATE: transport secretary Ann Marie Trevelyan on @SkyNews appears to contradict 1.30am message from No 10.

She doesn’t confirm what disciplinary action will be taken against MPs – if any.

Was it a confidence vote? “No. It was a very important vote.”

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) October 20, 2022 The transport secretary, Anne Marie-Trevelyan, said she was “shocked” by reports of MPs being physically “manhandled” into voting in the Commons last night.

Speaking on Sky News, the cabinet minister said she “wasn’t there” as she had voted earlier. She said:

I don’t think it’s ever acceptable for any party – and we have seen this happen before, where whips perhaps over-egg their encouragement to get people to vote in the appropriate way – that is never right.

The one thing that our parliament is so revered around the world for is that we allow each of us to vote with our conscience, and indeed with our government on important matters.

MPs have rejected a Labour motion that would guarantee parliamentary time for a bill to ban fracking.

Despite there being 357 Conservative MPs in Parliament, there were just 326 votes against Labour’s motion.

Dozens of Tory backbenchers and ministers had previously voiced opposition to the resumption of shale gas drilling in England, were placed in a difficult position when party whips said the motion would be treated as a confidence motion in Liz Truss’s government.

Find out how your MP voted:

The transport secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has said Tory MPs who disobeyed last night’s three-line whip will face “appropriate action”.

She told Sky News:

The situation is always very clear that the parliamentary managers will discuss with colleagues who didn’t vote with the three-line whip, why that was.

She went on to say that “appropriate discussions” will continue:

If there is a sense that some were doing so for not reasonable reasons, the appropriate discipline will be enacted.

Minister ‘not aware’ whether chief whip resigned last nightThe transport secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has said last night’s fracking motion was not a vote of confidence in the prime minister.

Speaking to Sky News this morning, she said the motion was “a very important vote” to ensure the government “did not allow Labour to try to hijack the order paper”.

Trevelyan appears not to have received the Downing Street memo from 1.30am this morning that said the fracking vote was, in fact, a confidence vote.

Trevelyan went on to say that she is not aware of whether the chief whip, Wendy Morton, resigned last night.

Asked whether Morton resigned and was later convinced to stay in her role, Trevelyan said:

I wasn’t there. I voted early in the lobbies and then had important security issues to deal with at the Department for Transport, so I didn’t follow the machinations in detail.

Both Morton and her deputy, Craig Whittaker, are currently in their posts “and that’s good news”, she added.

Asked about a report that Tory members were seen being “physically manhandled” by ministers into voting for the government at last night’s fracking vote, Trevelyan once again said she “wasn’t there”.

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