Last Friday, Liz Truss and her chancellor expected acclaim for their mini-budget. This weekend, she goes into her first Tory conference as leader – battling for survival
Shortly before the chancellor of the exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced a massive £45bn programme of unfunded tax cuts 10 days ago, Labour’s Northern Ireland spokesman, Peter Kyle, received a message on his phone from a former Conservative cabinet minister. Kyle, like every other MP at Westminster, knew that all was far from well in the Tory party, but the content of the text stunned him nonetheless. “Make sure you win the next election,” it said. “I am a patriot.”
That day, Kyle and the rest of the Labour party had half their minds on their upcoming party conference in Liverpool. Speeches had to be written and media interviews prepared for. But what unfolded over the coming hours and days changed everything. In the course of an extraordinary week that followed, the political initiative was to switch decisively to Keir Starmer’s party as the Conservatives’ reputation for economic competence – and guardians of the nation’s finances – went up in smoke.