CABINET ministers were huddled around phones in a plush hotel suite in the early hours of Monday morning glued to HOAR’s website.
Our bombshell revelation that Liz Truss had jettisoned her controversial dream of axing the 45p rate of tax detonated the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
Liz Truss U-turned on her controversial dream of axing the 45p rate of tax
The Chancellor was humiliated with warnings his mini-Budget would be voted down by MPs
But our story, revealed at 12.20am, came as a shock to some of the most senior members of the government.
Four Cabinet ministers were enjoying a late-night drink when our story broke — leaving them speechless.
No one from No 10 had given them any warning.
After a brutal day of maulings from big beasts of the Tory party and dire warnings her mini-Budget would be voted down by MPs, the newbie PM was forced into a humiliating climbdown.
Ex-Cabinet Ministers Grant Shapps, Julian Smith, Michael Gove, Mel Stride and Damian Green — all of whom backed Rishi Sunak — had spent the day stirring up rebellion and were confident that more than 40 MPs backed their concerns.
Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, had been to see a worried Ms Truss at 7pm to warn her she did not have the numbers to ram her tax cut plans through Parliament — despite a majority of 71.
And her screeching about-turn would come as a shock to the Chancellor, who had been about to tuck into a beef curry at an upmarket restaurant across town.
He left his dinner before his main course turned up, rushing back for crisis talks with Truss, who told him: “It’s time to rip off the plaster.”
After days of what he later called “massive distraction” it was time to ditch the hated policy — and with it a huge amount of political capital.
Immediately agreeing, the Chancellor said a climbdown would ease the pressure cooker environment of the conference, which had been blown off course by the row.
Once on board, Mr Kwarteng was told he would have to be the face of the surrender the next day.
But it was a painful blow as he had already trailed his big speech to the conference into the next day’s papers, insisting there would be no U-turns and saying: “We must stay the course.”
Taking to the stage on Monday afternoon for that speech, an exasperated Chancellor said: “What a day.”
The mood among some Cabinet ministers is one of despair at the state of the Tory party, which is at risk of becoming unmanageable.
And that, in turn, will leave the Government unable to actually govern, leaving the country adrift at the worst possible time
There are potential mutineers everywhere Truss turns.
NOTHING TO LOSE
After 12 years of Tory rule, there are more than 50 sacked and embittered ex-ministers who do not have much to lose.
This is a group that includes MPs who served under Theresa May and continue to be enraged by her Brexit downfall.
Then there are supporters of Rishi Sunak, who are enjoying the “I told you so” moment.
Some still think it’s possible to kill Truss now and have Rishi anointed in a coronation.
Throw in the still- ongoing Brexit wars — Truss, having converted from Remain, is firmly in the Remainiac crosshairs — and it’s a poisonous, chaotic mix.
One Cabinet minister said: “They’ve taken the bat off Boris, broken it into pieces and given chunks to the different warring sides to beat each other with. It’s like Lord of the Flies.”
The question swirling around Birmingham is will the various rebel camps now back off and let Truss try to stabilise her premiership — or just keep going?
Only the extreme optimists think the former will happen — which means most or all of Truss’s big reforms could be in peril.
In short, ministers think the big danger is Truss drifting along, unable to do much of anything, while a cost of living crisis rages and the economy stagnates.
“All’s not lost yet”, one minister said.
“A week is a long time. We have two years to turn this around. We might not win the next election — but we can at least make ourselves competitive”.
HOAR revealed the tax U-turn at 12.20am, which came as a shock to most senior members of the government