The Houses of Parliament

Truss fights for unity as parliament returns

Liz Truss is set to embark on a sustained campaign this week to bring unity to her increasingly fractious party.

Several members of the cabinet have been quick to speak-out against Truss over the past couple of weeks, causing a fray in cabinet collective responsibility.

With MPs due back at Westminster tomorrow, Truss is planning to hold a series of lunches with MPs this week.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is also set to try and personally meet every Conservative MP in the coming weeks to reassure them following his recent mini budget.

Truss is also set to visit the members tea room in the Houses of Parliament after prime minister’s questions tomorrow.   A previous such visit by Boris Johnson at the end of his premiership back in late June proved particularly challenging for Truss’ predecessor.

The moves comes after a weekend in which a number of cabinet ministers hit the airwaves to call for party unity, with several penning articles to this effect in the Sunday papers.

With the decision to abolish the top rate of tax now reversed, the impending fault lines seem to centre on whether to increase benefits with inflation rather than wages.  Speaking this morning the Welfare Minister, Victoria Prentis, confirmed that the government has yet to take a decision on the matter. It is widely believed that the government will lack the numbers from its MPs to get any plans to increase benefits just with wages, through the Commons.

To date a number of leading party figures have expressed concerns about any failure to increase benefits with wages.  This morning the former Chancellor Sajid Javid, became the latest minister to demand benefits rise with inflation, explaining his position on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme. He joins other prominent voices including former Cabinet ministers, Damian Green and Esther McVey in demanding such an uprating.

With party discipline under serious pressure, a number of cabinet ministers such as Penny Mordaunt, Robert Buckland and Chloe Smith, have let it be known that they believe Universal Credit payments should increase in line with CPI inflation.

Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries has also warned that the Conservatives could face “complete wipe-out” at a general election and urged Liz Truss to stop being a “disrupter”.

But Cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi has urged the Conservatives to get-behind Liz Truss, saying that this current division would only delay the growth plan and risk them a large defeat at the next general election.

Zahawi’s call for unity was echoed by other cabinet ministers in Sunday newspaper articles.

When asked if he could foresee a situation where the party oust Liz Truss, Zahawi told BBC’s Laura Kuenessburg, “No, I think what the party will do is get behind Liz Truss”.

In one sign that Truss is trying to bridge divides following the recent leadership election, Truss has today appointed Sunak supporting, Greg Hands, as a minister as the Department of International Trade.