Liz Truss lets rip at squabbling Cabinet ministers for breaking ranks over mini-Budget & benefits

11/10/2022. London, United Kingdom. Prime Minister Liz Truss attends a reception to celebrate the USA-British Lamb Agreement in 10 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

FUMING Liz Truss let rip at squabbling Cabinet Ministers yesterday for publicly breaking ranks on the mini-Budget.

The PM read the riot act to her top team at just their second meeting following an astonishing collapse of discipline, HOAR can reveal.

Liz Truss gave her Cabinet a ticking off over breaking ranks over benefits last week

She gave them a ticking off – reminding them of the importance of “collective Cabinet responsibility” and working together as a team.

But in the same meeting she was pressed by them to stick to promises to hike benefits in line with soaring inflation – amid a massive split.

Several of her own top team last week spoke out publicly, urging her to keep to Rishi Sunak’s promise he made when Chancellor.

But the PM’s preferred option is to hike them in line with wages instead, at around five per cent, which would save billions.

Chief agitator Penny Mordaunt was said to have been unable to look Ms Truss in the eye during the dressing down on Tuesday morning.

One source said of the former leadership contender: “She spent the whole time looking up at the ceiling instead.”

Ms Mordaunt said said last week that she backed “benefits keeping pace” with inflation – and the government should not “try to help people with one hand and take away with another.”

The PM was said to have been “frustrated” by her intervention.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman also waded into the firey row last week – saying there was a “Benefits Street culture” that still exists in Britain and there needed to be “a bit more stick”.

But Government insiders blamed new Chief Whip, Wendy Morton, for failing to enforce Cabinet discipline – just four weeks into the new Government – saying she’s not spent enough time meeting MPs.

One source said: “It’s important that the Chief Whip proactively meets colleagues, and gets the chance to hear their feedback or concerns on the government’s agenda, before she asks them to vote on it.

“If she is learning from the papers that MPs are unhappy about government policy, that needs to urgently change.”

At the same Cabinet meeting Ms Truss was ambushed by Ministers pressing for benefits to increase in line with inflation.

Work and Pensions Secretary Chloe Smith made the case to hike handouts like Universal Credit at the higher rate of inflation, which is around 10 per cent.

Ms Mordaunt, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg and Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland are all also believed to back a more generous uprating.

Penny Mordaunt last week spoke out in favour of hiking benefits in line with inflation

Chloe Smith is pushing the PM to uplift benefits too

Emboldened by forcing a u-turn on the top rate of tax, Tory rebels led by ringleaders Michael Gove and Grant Shapps are also turning the screw on Ms Truss to hike benefits with prices.

A formal decision on benefits uplifting is set to be made by October 31 – when the Chancellor will deliver his latest fiscal statement to MPs.

In a bid to stop Cabinet leaks Ms Truss has frozen out almost all officials, limiting the meetings to her team of ministers and top civil servant Simon Case.

No press officers are allowed in the room, including the PM’s official spokesman who gives a readout to journalists based on second-hand information.

The Cabinet reprimand came as No10 insisted there would be no delays to next year’s income tax cut, despite Whitehall rumours.

Downing Street insiders said the penny off the basic rate will go ahead in April, and Rishi Sunak’s planned corporation tax hike “remains cancelled”.

After claims parts of the mini-Budget were going to be reversed, No10 pointed to the fact that the cut to the rate of National Insurance will be enshrined in law shortly.

Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have now received a “dire” draft forecast from the Office of Budget Responsibility.

A Downing Street Source said: “Are we going through OBR line by line? Yes. Does that mean we are cancelling things? No.”

Meanwhile ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid attacked the government for spending TOO MUCH on the energy bailout – rather than targeting support for bills to the neediest households.