Liz Truss is fighting to save her job as Britain’s prime minister after more of her own lawmakers called for her to quit, incensed by a shambolic parliamentary vote and the resignation of her home secretary late on Wednesday.
Truss’s government has “12 hours” to “turn the ship around,” Conservative lawmaker Simon Hoare said on Thursday, after a vote on whether to ban controversial fracking for shale gas descended into chaos.
Lawmakers reported that aides for Truss manhandled MPs into the voting lobby to force them to vote against the ban. The government initially presented the vote as a confidence motion in Truss’s government, but confusion remains about whether it was. A Downing Street spokesperson said on Thursday that Conservative lawmakers who didn’t participate in Wednesday evening’s vote will face disciplinary action, PA Media said.
The chaos came hours after Suella Braverman, Truss’ home secretary, dramatically resigned just seven weeks into her job with a blistering attack on the PM’s leadership.
“The business of government relies upon people accepting responsibility for their mistakes.” “Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if everyone can’t see that we have made them, and hoping that things will magically come right is not serious politics,” Braverman wrote in a critique of Truss’s numerous U-turns on taxes and public spending.
“I have concerns about the direction of this government,” Braverman said. “Not only have we broken key pledges that were promised to our voters, but I have serious concerns about this Government’s commitment to honoring manifesto commitments.”
Truss, who fired her finance minister just last week after a disastrous and since-ditched financial plan caused turmoil on the markets, must now focus on getting to the weekend without her own MPs moving to oust her.
Backbencher Crispin Blunt told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday that Truss’ position is “wholly untenable,” adding that she has shown a “lack of self-knowledge” in this process.
“And if she doesn’t understand that then I would be astonished,” Blunt said. “But one of the qualities she has shown is a lack of self-knowledge to 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.”
At least two Conservatives lawmakers have confirmed they have submitted letters of no confidence, although many more are believed to have done so in private. “I had high hopes for Liz Truss but after what happened last night her position has become untenable and I have submitted a letter to Sir Graham Brady,” Sheryll Murray wrote on Twitter on Thursday, following her colleague William Wragg in publicly declaring her letter.
Truss will face a vote of confidence if the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers changes its rules to enable one so soon after the leadership vote, but previous prime ministers have been pressured to resign before facing the humiliation of a successful ballot to oust them.
Earlier this year, Truss’s predecessor Boris Johnson narrowly survived a confidence vote in his leadership. But he resigned weeks later when dozens of ministers and members of the government resigned, citing a lack of confidence in his government.