PMQs: Liz Truss questioned on why she hasn't quit as PM
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In another turbulent day in Westminster, the Prime Minister sacked her Home Secretary while her two most senior whips quit. MPs claimed the Prime Minister, her deputy and the Business Secretary were involved in scuffles in the Commons after tensions boiled over.
Ms Truss ousted Suella Braverman in a clash over immigration policy but was told by her former leadership rival she had broken her promises to the nation.
Anger over the government’s changing position on a crunch vote on fracking, deeply unpopular among backbenches, led to chief Whip Wendy Morton quitting along with her deputy Craig Whittaker.
One MP who was in the Commons members lobby said he witnessed Ms Truss “run up” behind and “grab” Wendy Morton.
“It happened right by me, absolutely bizarre.”
Labour MP Ian Murray said the Tories were in “open warfare” with whips screaming at Tories” and Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg “shouting at his colleagues” – something he denied.
Labour’s Chris Bryant said deputy PM Therese Coffey and Mr Rees-Mogg were among a group of senior Tories who were putting pressure on Conservative MPs to vote against the Labour motion on fracking but he did not see who did what.
He said that one MP, Alex Stafford, had been “physically manhandled” into the “no” lobby.
Sources close to Ms Coffey insisted she had not “manhandled” anyone. Conservative MPs were left in despair at the scenes, with Sir Charles Walker saying the “whole affair is inexcusable”.
“It is a pitiful reflection on the Conservative Parliamentary Party at every level and it reflects really badly obviously on the Government of the day.”
Asked if there is any coming back from this, Sir Charles, visibly angry, said: “I don’t think so. And I have to say I’ve been of that view really since two weeks ago.
“This is an absolute disgrace, as a Tory MP of 17 years who’s never been a minister, who’s got on with it loyally most of the time, I think it’s a shambles and a disgrace. I think it is utterly appalling. I’m livid.”
Ms Truss sacked her Home Secretary after a clash over immigration policy in another day of chaos in Downing Street.
Suella Braverman was “asked” to resign over security breaches when she shared sensitive government information with an MP.
But Ms Braverman left her post with a brutal attack on Ms Truss’s premiership over her broken promises to the nation.
Grant Shapps became the latest centrist to be brought into the fold when he was appointed as the new Home Secretary.
Ms Braverman plunged the knife in when she issued a resignation statement attacking Ms Truss’s leadership.
She wrote: “It is obvious to everyone that we are going through a tumultuous time. I have concerns about the direction of this government.
“Not only have we broken key pledges that were promised to our voters, but I have had serious concerns about this Government’s commitment to honouring manifesto commitments, such as reducing overall migration numbers and stopping illegal migration, particularly the dangerous small boats crossings.”
She also took a thinly veiled swipe at the Prime Minister over hoping things will “magically come right” despite the turmoil.
Ms Braverman wrote: “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. I have made a mistake: I accept responsibility: I resign.”
Ms Braverman, who fought in the Tory leadership contest, was deeply opposed to the Prime Minister’s plans to liberalise immigration policy in an effort to boost growth.
Boosting migration would make it easier for the Office for Budget Responsibility to suggest the government will increase national income in its crunch report on October 31.
Ms Braverman copied in a backbencher on the details of the plans using her private phone.
The information was deemed to be market sensitive as it will be included in the OBR report.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case advised Ms Truss that two sections of the ministerial code had been breached.
The Prime Minister cancelled a planned visit to Hertfordshire and summoned Ms Braverman to her Commons office where she asked her to resign.
It made her the shortest-serving Home Secretary in modern political history, lasting just 43 full days in the role.
Allies of the former Home Secretary said she is “disappointed and frustrated” to be sacked.
The Daily Express understands that while Number 10 wanted to increase net migration Ms Braverman wanted to reduce it to “tens of thousands”.
The Written Ministerial Statement was set to contain details on the Government’s high-skilled worker visas and rules surrounding the extension of certain visa types.
Downing Street’s determination to mend the economy meant Ms Braverman was increasingly unable to support the Government’s overall migration strategy, it is understood.
The former Home Secretary did not want to leave the Home Office, but the Prime Minister is understood to have given her no choice.
When they met after Ms Braverman’s email blunder, the former Home Secretary is understood to have been furious Number 10 would not defend her mistake and walked out.
Mr Shapps arrived at the Home Office insisting he is looking forward to getting on with the job as Home Secretary “regardless of what’s happening otherwise in Westminster”.
Speaking outside the Home Office, he told reporters: “Obviously it has been a turbulent time for the Government.
“But the most important thing is to make sure the people of this country know they’ve got security. That’s why it’s a great honour to be appointed as Home Secretary today.
“I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the role providing the security the British people need regardless of what’s happening otherwise in Westminster.
“So I’m looking forward to getting on with the job.”
Mr Shapps’ appointment is another concession to the Rishi Sunak’s supporters in the party after they were kept out of the big jobs when Ms Truss formed her Cabinet.
He acknowledged that the Government had been through a “very difficult period”.
“I accept that the Government has obviously had a very difficult period,” he said.
“That nonetheless means it is doubly important to ensure that we are doing absolutely everything in the basic areas.
“Jeremy Hunt has done a great job settling issues in relation to that mini-budget.”
New Chancellor Jeremy Hunt appeared before the 1922 Committee of backbenchers to explain his decision to rip up the Prime Minister’s mini-budget.
He joked “this **** would be really interesting if I wasn’t in the middle of it”, according to one MP at the meeting.
Another MP present said Mr Hunt had demonstrated “he has a really good grip on the issues and he is going to resolve it”.
Ms Braverman’s departure heaps more pressure on Ms Truss’s premiership as she is expected to be a vocal critic from the backbenches.
Tory MP Bob Seely apologises for the ‘frustrating’ state of his party live on air, as news breaks that Suella Braverman has departed as Home Secretary.
Speaking to LBC’s Tom Swarbrick Mr Seely said, ‘I actually want to apologise, I really am getting fed up with this soap drama as much as your listeners are…. I’m frankly as bemused as everybody else is and I’m really unhappy with the situation.’
Conservative MP Miriam Cates said she is not sure whether Ms Truss should lead the party into the next election.
“I don’t think we should always be following the polling and we shouldn’t be creating our policy off the back of polling, but I think the key thing I would like to see her and the Government address is this realignment that got us elected in 2019,” she said.
Tory MP William Wragg said he has “lodged” a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister with Sir Graham Brady.
Gone in 43 days… the whirlwind minister who was on a mission
There were just 43 days between the moment Suella Braverman became Home Secretary and her departure on Wednesday.
The former Attorney General, 42, issued the yellow-tinted resignation letter that has become a staple of politics in recent months some six weeks after she was appointed by Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Ms Braverman won party supporters over by being a staunch believer in Brexit, a campaigner for low taxes and advocate of controlled immigration. But she was forced to go on Wednesday after a “mistake” in sending an official document from her personal email.
Her time in office might be most remembered for saying her “dream” was to see a photo of a flight carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda taking off on the front page of a newspaper.
But some of her statements sparked a Cabinet rift more than once. In one instance, she vowed to deliver on Brexit promises by slashing immigration. In a challenge to Ms Truss, Ms Braverman wanted to use powers gained from breaking free of the EU to drive down net migration – which has barely fallen since 2016.
She wanted the number to fall substantially, from the current 239,000 to the “tens of thousands”. But the intervention put her on a collision course with the PM who, in her drive to grow the economy, had plans to let in an extra 20,000 unskilled foreign workers each year.
In her final 48 hours as Home Secretary, Ms Braverman also attacked “tofu-eating wokerati” for disruptive protests. She was defending the Government’s Public Order Bill which could grant police powers to take a more “proactive” approach.
Ms Braverman, MP for Fareham in Hampshire, was the first Tory to bid to replace Boris Johnson, but was knocked out of the race early and backed Ms Truss.
The mum of two was born in Harrow, grew up in Wembley, educated at Heathfield School and studied law at Cambridge. She gained a Masters at the Pantheon-Sorbonne in Paris and sat the New York Bar exams.
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