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Truss speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons Alamy Stock Photo

As It Happened: Truss tells MPs she's 'not a quitter' during tense Prime Minister's Questions

This was her first PMQs since her new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt ripped up her plan for tax cut.

LIZ TRUSS HAS faced a a humiliating clash with Keir Starmer today, having been forced to scrap her entire economic strategy and with her leadership in peril.

This was her first Prime Minister’s Questions since her new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt ripped up her plan for tax cuts and increased public borrowing in a bid to reassure markets in the wake of the mini-budget turmoil.

Addressing the House of Commons, Truss told MPs she was “sorry” and accepted she had made mistakes on the economy.

Providing some analysis on the PMQ session, BBC News Political Editor Chis Mason writes that “after the last week, it was always going to be humiliating”. 

He writes:

And after a morning of front pages screaming about the prospect of the state pension shrinking – and sending the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly out this morning to defend that – she has now about-turned again, back to where she was originally.

There were several moments at this session where the PM managed to generate some cheers, and jeers on her own side directed at their opponents.

On the stickiest of sticky wickets, in the most desperate of situations, this PMQs probably went as well as Liz Truss could have hoped.

Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons have ended. 

Northern Ireland Protocol

Back to the Commons, Truss says any negotiations with the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol will “reflect the same position” in the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

She was responding to Conservative former minister David Jones, who asks: “Can she confirm that it’s the Government intention that the Bill should remain unamended and in particular that the European Court of Justice should have no jurisdiction in any part of the United Kingdom.”

Truss says:

“I am completely committed to the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill. It deals with the very specific issues we face in Northern Ireland, the free flow of trade and also making sure that the people of Norther Ireland are able to benefit from being part of the United Kingdom.

“And I can tell my honourable friend that any negotiations will reflect the same position that is in the Protocol Bill.”

Elsewhere, it’s being reported that one of the Prime Minister’s most senior advisors has been suspended. 

BBC News and Sky News are reporting that special advisor Jason Stein is to face a formal investigation by the Propriety and Ethics Team in Whitehall. 

Sky News is reporting the suspension follows allegations he was responsible for unauthorised negative briefings against former cabinet ministers. 

Truss has said she would protect the most vulnerable, but did not commit to maintaining the link between benefits and inflation.

Conservative MP John Baron says: “Recent events meant that spending is going to be more constrained than originally thought.

“May I encourage the Prime Minister to ensure that we retain compassion in politics in these decisions, including maintaining the link between benefits and inflation, will she do that?”

Truss says: “We are compassionate Conservatives. We will always work to protect the most vulnerable, and that is what we did with the energy price guarantee.

“We are going to make sure the most vulnerable are protected into year two, and I’m sure the Chancellor has heard my honourable friend’s representations on the contents of the medium-term fiscal plan.”

prime-minister-liz-truss-speaks-during-prime-ministers-questions-in-the-house-of-commons-london Truss speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Some more of Starmer’s comments during PMQs:

Truss has not committed to raising the carer’s allowance in line with the present inflation rate when challenged at PMQs.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey says: “Millions of family carers have been forced to cut back on food and heating.”

He describes the case of someone who needs to be washed in warm water several times a day to relieve their symptoms, adding “carers are struggling enough already in this cost-of-living crisis”.

He asks: “So will the Prime Minister guarantee that support for the vulnerable, including carer’s allowance, will rise by at least today’s inflation rate of 10.1%?”

Truss responds: “People are struggling. It is difficult at the moment. That’s why we’ve put in place the energy price guarantee to make sure the typical household isn’t paying more than £2,500.

“It’s why we’ve supplied an extra £1,200 of support to the most vulnerable, and I can assure the right honourable gentleman, we will always support the most vulnerable. They will be our priority.”

Earlier today, an admission from Downing Street that Truss could ditch the key manifesto commitment to increase state pensions in line with inflation sparked a swift backlash.

Her official spokesperson said she is “not making any commitments on individual policy areas” ahead of the Chancellor’s fiscal plan on 31 October.

During PMQs, however, Truss continues to say she would protect the triple lock on pensions after further questioning from the SNP.

Responding to Truss, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford says: “It is not surprising that the Prime Minister’s approval ratings are collapsing with an answer like that. The worst polling result for any prime minister in history. She has just thrown 12 million pensioners under the Tory bus.”

After jeers from the Tory benches, Blackford adds others were also “feeling the pain”.

He tells MPs: “In the last week alone, inflation has risen to a 40-year high, mortgage rates are at the highest level since the financial crash, and people’s energy bills are about to rise to more than £5,000. Can the Prime Minister answer one simple question – why does she expect everyone else to pay the price for her failure?”

Truss replies: “I don’t think he can take yes for an answer. I have been clear we are protecting the triple lock on pensions.

“If he is concerned about the economy, why does he continue to advocate for separatism which would plunge the Scottish economy into chaos?”

A snippet of Labour leader Keir Starmer speaking during PMQs:

Today’s PMQs come as more than half of voters think Truss should resign as Prime Minister and 80% blame the UK Government for the rising cost of living.

In a poll conducted over the weekend, 53% of people told Ipsos that Truss should quit and only 20% would oppose her resignation.

In the months before he resigned, Boris Johnson recorded similar figures, ranging between 50% and 59% of people saying he should go over the course of 2022.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 British adults between 14 and 17 October, found just 13% of people believed Truss was likely to win the next election – less than half of the 30% that thought Mr Johnson could win shortly before he resigned.

It’s worth remembering that yesterday new UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt reversed almost all of the tax cuts announced by his predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng, in September as he sought to calm financial markets following weeks of turbulence.

Starmer argues the UK Government had “crashed the economy”.

“Those spending cuts are on the table for one reason and one reason only, because they crashed the economy. Working people are going to have £500 more a month on their mortgages and what’s the Prime Minister’s response? To say she’s sorry,” he tells the Commons. 

“What does she think people will think and say that’s alright, I don’t mind financial ruin at least she apologised.”

Truss replies: “I do think there has to be some reflection of economic reality from the party opposite. The fact is that interest rates are rising across the world and the economic conditions have worsened.

“And we are being honest, we’re levelling with the public unlike (him) who simply won’t do it and what is (he) doing about the fact that workers, train workers are again going on strike.

“The fact is he refuses to condemn the workers, we are bringing forward policies that are going to make sure our railways are protected, people going to work are protected. He backs the strikers, we back the strivers.”

Truss says she and the Chancellor remain “completely committed” to the triple lock on pensions.

In answer to a question about the pension rise guarantee from SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Liz Truss says: “I honestly don’t know what he is talking about because we have been clear in our manifesto that we will maintain the triple lock and I am completely committed to it. So is the Chancellor.”

Blackford had earlier accused the Prime Minister of being “in office but not in power” and called on her to “commit to raising the state pension at the rate of inflation”.

Starmer asks the Prime Minister how she can be held to account when “she is not in charge”.

The Labour leader tells the Commons: “Last week, the Prime Minister ignored every question put to her. Instead, she repeatedly criticised Labour’s plan for a six-month freeze on energy bills. This week, the Chancellor made it her policy.

“How can she be held to account when she’s not in charge?”

Truss replies: “Our policy is to protect the most vulnerable for two years.

“I had to take the decision because of the economic situation to adjust our policies. I am somebody who’s prepared to front up, I am prepared to take the tough decisions unlike the honourable gentleman who hasn’t done anything on businesses, who has done nothing to say or protect people after one year. He has got no plan.”

The Commons is getting rowdy this afternoon.

Truss insists she is “a fighter not a quitter” after Starmer said the Conservatives’ economic credibility is “gone” and said of the Prime Minister: “Why is she still here?”

Starmer, in his concluding remarks, says: “The only mandate she’s ever had is from members opposite, it was a mandate built on fantasy economics and it ended in disaster.

“The country’s got nothing to show for it except the destruction of the economy and the implosion of the Tory Party.”

Starmer reads out a list of dropped economic policies, with Labour MPs shouting “gone” after each one.

He adds: “Economic credibility – gone. And her supposed best friend the former chancellor, he’s gone as well. They’re all gone. So why is she still here?”

Truss replies: “I am a fighter and not a quitter. I have acted in the national interest to make sure that we have economic stability.”

prime-minister-liz-truss-speaks-during-prime-ministers-questions-in-the-house-of-commons-london British Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Starmer tells the Commoms:

“Last week the Prime Minister stood there and promised absolutely no spending reductions, they all cheered. This week the Chancellor announced a new wave of cuts. What’s point of a prime minister whose promises don’t even last a week?”

Truss replies: “Well I can assure (him) that spending will go up next year and it will go up the year after, but of course we need to get value for taxpayers’ money.

“The Labour Party has pledged hundreds of billions of spending pledges, none of which they’ve retracted, (he) needs to reflect the economy reality in his policies.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer asks Truss: “A book is being written about the Prime Minister’s time in office. Apparently it’s going to be out by Christmas. Is that the release date or the title?”

labour-leader-keir-starmer-speaks-during-prime-ministers-questions-in-the-house-of-commons-london Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The Prime Minister replies: “I have been in office for just under two months and I have delivered the energy price guarantee making sure that people aren’t paying £6,000 bills this winter.

“I’ve reversed the national insurance increase and I’ve also taken steps, and we will be taking steps, to crack down on the militant unions.

“That is more of a record of action than the honourable gentleman in his two-and-a-half years in the job.”

Truss tells MPs “I am a fighter, not a quitter”.

Truss tells MPs she is “sorry” and accepted she had made mistakes on the economy.

Labour MP Justin Madders had asked why Kwasi Kwarteng lost his job as chancellor rather than Ms Truss.

Truss replies in the Commons: “I have been very clear that I am sorry and that I have made mistakes.

“But the right thing to do in those circumstances is to make changes, which I have made, and to get on with the job and deliver for the British people.”

Shouts of “resign” could be heard as Truss answered.

Good afternoon, Hayley Halpin here.

Liz Truss is currently facing Prime Minister’s Questions for the first time since the mini-budget U-turn.

I’ll be bringing you the latest developments over the next while. 

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