Dismayed Tory MPs continue to plot to oust Liz Truss from No 10

Up to 100 letters sent to 1922 Committee as Michael Gove says PM’s departure is ‘a matter of when not if’

Dismayed Tory MPs are continuing their plotting to oust Liz Truss, amid anger over plummeting poll ratings and the threat of the axe falling on public spending, despite Jeremy Hunt urging them to unite behind her for the sake of the economy.

Briefings continued in earnest on Tuesday saying that Graham Brady, chair of the powerful backbench 1922 Committee, had received up to 100 letters calling on Truss to go, increasing the pressure on him to rewrite party rules to allow another confidence vote.

One minister admitted the situation was “grim”, while another, asked which colleagues still supported the prime minister, grimaced and said: “I’ll tell you if I find one.”

Several MPs said their campaigns were faltering as they could not agree on which candidate to unite behind.

Some ministers said they felt no need to resign their position, as they could submit no-confidence letters. Though the threshold for letters is technically 54, because Truss is immune from a no-confidence vote for another 11 months the real number to force her out is half the parliamentary party – 179.

At its weekly meeting at 4pm on Wednesday, the 1922 Committee executive is likely to discuss the issue of no-confidence letters.

The mood darkened when a YouGov poll found that more than half of Conservative party members think Truss should resign and a significant majority would support a coronation of a new leader by Tory MPs.

In a sign of “buyers’ remorse” over a politician once regarded as the “darling of the grassroots”, 55% of more than 500 party members thought she should resign, while just 38% said she should stay put.

Boris Johnson is the members’ favourite to take over, with 32% saying he should return to No 10 if Truss goes, with Rishi Sunak on 23%.

The idea is dismissed as ridiculous by many Tory MPs. Johnson and Sunak are well ahead of other potential candidates, with Ben Wallace on 10%, Penny Mordaunt on 9% and Kemi Badenoch on 8%.

The Tory heavyweight Michael Gove said it was a matter of when not if Truss was removed as PM, as he told Britons to expect “a hell of a lot of pain in the next two months”. The former cabinet minister, who backed Sunak in the summer and was an early opponent of the disastrous mini-budget, said her economic plan had now been “shredded”.

Asked after a speech whether it was “no longer a question of whether Liz Truss goes, but when she goes”, Gove agreed that was “absolutely right”.

He added: “The question for any leader is what happens when the programme or the platform on which you secured the leadership has been shredded.”

Gove also joked that he had been Truss’s boss, which is “of course a role which is now a job-share between Jeremy Hunt and the bond markets”; and that “we all know now” why Truss had gained the nickname “the human hand grenade”.

Tory backbencher Robert Largan compared her leadership to a “dumpster fire” and the Conservative party to a skip in a bizarre article in the Glossop Chronicle that was widely interpreted as an allegory for Truss’s premiership.

“Sometimes it is argued that it is better to just let the fire eventually burn itself out,” he wrote. “But the longer the fire is left to rage, the greater the danger to the integrity of the skip, as the metal starts to warp and twist out of shape, beyond all recognition, eventually becoming completely unusable.”


Pippa Crerar, Henry Dyer and Aubrey Allegretti

The GuardianTramp

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