Tory civil war! Truss already has huge problem to hold onto power

Truss may see ‘trouble on the backbencher’ says Henry Hill

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The new Prime Minister took the reins from Boris Johnson this week and wasted no time completely reshuffling her predecessor’s Cabinet, bringing in many of her allies. Liz Truss faces the monumental task of getting the UK back on a level footing, with one of her first priorities being finding a way to successfully manage the damaging cost of living crisis. But the new Tory leader has been warned she must also act quickly to reunite her creaking Conservative Party that had been engulfed by numerous scandals under the premiership of Mr Johnson.

Alistair Jones, Associate Politics Professor at De Montfort University Leicester, has explained why the results of the Tory leadership race once again highlighted a “split party”.

He argued the support shown from within the parliamentary party in the contest “was a far from ringing endorsement”, while many ministers still wanted Mr Johnson to remain as Prime Minister.

The political expert told “The results of the Tory leadership election showed a split party. Liz Truss won less than half of the eligible votes from party members.

“Within the parliamentary party, while Truss came second in that selection, it was a far from ringing endorsement. She may have been the ‘stop Mordaunt’ or ‘stop Sunak’ candidate rather than getting to the final two on the ‘Liz for Leader’ campaign.

“On top of this, a sizeable proportion of the Conservative Party and MPs from the party actually want Boris Johnson to remain as Prime Minister.

“There had already been speculation of a leadership campaign against Liz Truss – even before she was sworn in as Prime Minister earlier this week.”

Professor Jones further warned this has quickly created a “huge problem” for Ms Truss as it risks destroying her chances of winning the next general election – scheduled for May 2024.

He believes she could be the “shortest serving Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister in history” if she doesn’t demonstrate a resounding response to the cost of living crisis and Brexit.

The political expert concluded: “This is now a huge problem for Liz Truss. If a party is not united, then it will not be able to win a general election.

“The question will be as to how quickly the internal sniping starts. Normally new Prime Ministers get 100 days grace to get things done. That tends to be after a general election. Truss may be lucky to get 10 days.

“If she is not seen to be adequately responding to the energy and cost of living crisis, as well as Brexit concerns, her position could become tenuous very quickly. The same would have applied to Sunak, had he won.”

When asked how damaging it could be for her if she doesn’t fill the cracks widening in her party, Professor Jones replied: “Potentially, this could see Truss as the shortest serving Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister in history.

“The leadership election highlighted the extent to which the party is divided. Even Johnson’s parting speech, which saw him invoke Cincinnatus, was a threat.

“Cincinnatus left politics for farming but returned to politics years later. It may be that Johnson still sees unfinished business as Prime Minister of this country.

“With some of his supporters declining to serve under Truss, questions remain. This is harmful to Truss’ position as Prime Minister.”

During her first Prime Minister’s (PMQs) on Wednesday, Ms Truss insisted she is “focused” on the “serious issues” facing the UK when challenged to call a general election.

Labour’s Alex Davies-Jones told the House of Commons: “The new Prime Minister is now finally imposed. But make no mistake, she does not have the support of the British public.

“She can’t even rely on the backing of her own MPs, and people in Pontypridd will never forget that she played a key role in a government that failed millions. So, will she now finally do the right and decent thing and call a general election?”

The Prime Minister hit back: “We are facing very serious issues as a country; partly as a result of the aftermath of Covid, partly as a result of Putin’s war in Ukraine. What the British people want is they want a Government that is going to sort it out.

“That is what I am determined to do as Prime Minister, sort out the energy crisis, get our economy going, make sure people can get doctor’s appointments. That’s what I’m focused on.”

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