Tory rebels seek Labour help to stop budget ‘for sake of Britain’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivered a keynote speech to the Labour Party Conference on Tuesday  (PA Wire)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivered a keynote speech to the Labour Party Conference on Tuesday (PA Wire)

Rebel Tory MPs have been in discussions with Labour on how to force Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng to change their mini-budget, reports say.

Critics within the party believe that the prime minister does not have a majority in the Commons of Commons for her economic plan, The Times is reporting, and are seeking outside support to force changes.

The paper claims some Tory MPs believe a defeat to Labour at the next election is likely, and the party should be considering a “legacy” it hands over to the opposition.

Labour has been pushing for the accelerated publication of the latest assessment from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

Sources have reportedly told the Financial Times that Labour is already in talks with other opposition parties and Tory MPs who are unhappy with the economic instability the budget has caused Britain.

The OBR said it will deliver an “independent” forecast of the Government’s controversial economic plan in the coming weeks after its committee met with Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday.

In a statement published shortly after the meeting, the OBR said it will deliver an initial forecast – which “will, as always, be based on our independent judgment about economic and fiscal prospects and the impact of the Government’s policies” – to the Chancellor on October 7.

It said it will set out the full timetable up to November 23 next week, when the Chancellor is due to reveal his highly-anticipated medium-term fiscal plan.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is hoping to use an “opposition day debate” once the House of Commons resumes after the coming week’s Conservative Party Conference, the Financial Times reports, and Labour will use the “humble address” to seek documents from the OBR.

Meanwhile LBC is reporting that sources confirm discussions have already taken place between Labour and potential Tory rebels, as pressure is mounting for the Chancellor to reverse the abolition of the 45p top rate of tax.

It would only take around 35 Tory MPs to put any legislative proposals at risk, LBC reports.

Liz Truss (PA Wire)
Liz Truss (PA Wire)

One senior MP reportedly told LBC if the market takes another turn on October 14, the day the Bank of England stops buying UK government bonds, “all bets are off and [Liz Truss will] be gone by Christmas”.

Mr Starmer used his keynote speech during Labour’s own conference earlier this week to rubbish Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget.

“Higher interest rates. Higher inflation. Higher borrowing. And for what? Not for you. Not for working people. For tax cuts for the richest one percent in our society,” he said.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, the Labour leader said: “Neither the country nor Parliament has had any say on these measures. That is unacceptable.

“The economy is not a laboratory experiment for the maddest scientists of the Conservative Party. Mortgages, pensions and family finances are not casino chips for a Government intoxicated by dogma.

“There are many decent Conservative MPs who know this. My message to them is that Labour will work with anyone to ensure some semblance of economic sanity is restored.”

Meanwhile the Shadow Chancellor branded the economic shake-up “an admission of 12 years of economic failure”.

Rachel Reeves said that when Britain faced a cost-of-living crisis, soaring inflation and climbing interest rates, the PM and Chancellor were “two desperate gamblers in a casino”.

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds claimed people and businesses are looking at the “entire approach” of the Government and “saying, ‘We have no faith in these institutions’”.

“I will be frank,” he said. “I don’t think either the Prime Minister or the Chancellor will ever get that back.”

Kwasi Kwarteng has defended his mini-budget by saying the Government “had no other choice” than to do “something different” to spark the economy.

As the Prime Minister admitted the strategy had caused “disruption”, Kwasi Kwarteng said the public expected public spending would be tightly controlled.

“The British taxpayer expects their government to work as efficiently and effectively as possible, and we will deliver on that expectation,” he wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

“Not all the measures we announced last week will be universally popular. But we had to do something different. We had no other choice.”