The Tory infighting over the economy exploded into live today as a former minister accused Liz Truss of throwing her Chancellor ‘under the bus’ over controversial tax cuts for the rich.
Nadine Dorries, an ultra-loyalist supporter of Boris Johnson, ripped into his successor this morning after she said Kwasi Kwarteng was behind the decision to scrap the 45p tax rate for top earners.
The announcement in the mini-Budget just over a week ago – to be funded by massive increases in public borrowing – has been criticised across the political divide and helped spark panic in the markets.
But in a pre-Conservative Party Conference interview this morning, Ms Truss said the decision was taken by Mr Kwarteng alone, without consulting the Cabinet.
In response, Ms Dorries, who backed Ms Truss in the Tory leadership race before quitting as culture secretary, tweeted: ‘One of Boris Johnson’s faults was that he could sometimes be too loyal and he got that.
‘However, there is a balance and throwing your Chancellor under a bus on the first day of conference really isn’t it. (Fingers crossed) things improve and settle down from now.’
Nadine Dorries (left), an ultra-loyalist supporter of Boris Johnson, ripped into his successor this morning after she said Kwasi Kwarteng was behind the decision to scrap the 45p tax rate for top earners.
In a pre-Conservative Party Conference interview this morning, Ms Truss said the decision was taken by Mr Kwarteng alone, without consulting the Cabinet.
In response, Ms Dorries, who backed Ms Truss in the Tory leadership race before quitting as culture secretary, tweeted: ‘One of Boris Johnson’s faults was that he could sometimes be too loyal and he got that. ‘However, there is a balance and throwing your Chancellor under a bus on the first day of conference really isn’t it. (Fingers crossed) things improve and settle down from now.’
Appearing on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Ms Truss said the mini-budget’s most controversial measure – the abolition of the 45 per cent tax rate on earnings over £150,000 – was not discussed with the Cabinet but was a decision made by the Chancellor.
She added that Mr Kwarteng ‘meets business people all the time’ when asked about the Chancellor attending a private champagne reception with hedge fund managers who stood to gain from a collapse in sterling following his mini-budget.
The Prime Minister told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: ‘The Chancellor meets business people all the time, that’s his job.
‘I do not manage Kwasi Kwarteng’s diary, believe me.’
Pressed on whether it would have been better if he had not gone as people are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, Ms Truss said: ‘I get up every morning as Prime Minister thinking how can we make our country more successful, how can we reassure people, how can we help people get through these very difficult times and we do face difficult times…
‘And that’s what I’m focused on. That’s what the Chancellor is focused on and that is what the whole Cabinet is focused on.
Michael Gove tore into Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s market-melting mini-Budget today, accusing them of being ‘un-Conservative’ for using public borrowing to fund tax cuts for the rich.
The former minister, who backed Ms Truss’s rivals Kemi Badenoch and Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership race, hit out over her ‘mistakes’ as the Conservative Party Conference started in Birmingham.
In a stinging attack on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg he suggested he would join Tory rebels willing to vote down the financial package that led to panic in the sterling, mortgage and pensions markets.
It came as party chairman Jake Berry said the rebels faced being kicked out of the parliamentary party if they did go against the Government.
Ms Truss admitted this morning there were problems with the way Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s fiscal event was communicated but backed the contents.
She has faced criticism over plans to increase Government borrowing by tens of billions of pounds at the same time as she cuts taxes for the richest.
Mr Gove has a number of speaking engagements at the conference, suggesting he does not intend to be a quiet backbencher.
And he was given a prime front row seat as a commentator after her BBC interview. In a withering assessment he said he was ‘profoundly’ concerned.
‘There were two things that were problematic with the fiscal event. The first was the sheer risk of using borrowed money to fund tax cuts, that’s not conservative,’ he said.
‘The second thing is the decision to cut the 45p rate and at the same time to change the law which governs how bankers are paid in the City of London. Ultimately at a time when people are suffering … when you have additional billions of pounds in play, to have as your principal decision a headline tax move cutting taxes for the wealthiest, that is a display of the wrong values.
Asked if he would vote for it he added: ‘There are many good things in what Liz said and I do welcome the broader points she made about growth, but the critical thing is that Liz has acknowledged, with hindsight, with welcome hindsight, that mistakes were made in the preparation for Friday …
But pushed again he admitted: ‘I don’t believe it’s right.’
It has been reported that some Tory MPs are preparing to vote with Labour to prevent measures announced by the Chancellor on September 23, including abolishing the top rate of income tax.
Asked on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday whether this would result in them losing the party whip, Mr Berry said: ‘Yes.’
He also urged Tory MPs to unite behind Liz Truss and her programme, saying she had ‘a mandate both from colleagues and our membership’.