Several Top Tories Are Staying Away From Party Conference As Crisis Deepens
Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak is among the Conservative MPs reported to not be going to Conservative Party conference this weekend (Alamy)
Former Conservative leadership contenders and ex-ministers are among a number of MPs swerving party conference this weekend, against a backdrop of plunging poll ratings and deepening economic crisis in the wake of Kwasi Kwarteng's sweeping tax cuts.
Conservative MPs and members are due to gather in Birmingham from this Sunday, but there is some uncertainty over whether the usual number of MPs will attend.
Markets have reacted badly to Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s hugely contentious "mini-Budget", and Labour have soared to a record 33 point lead in the polls.
Former Chancellors Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid are believed to be among those who have confirmed that they will not be making the trip to the Midlands. David Davis is also reported to be skipping the event.
Rehman Chisti, who stood for the party leadership in the summer and served for a short time as foreign office minister after Boris Johnson announced his resignation, told PoliticsHome that he would not be going in order to allow Liz Truss “and her chosen team space”.
“I am not going to conference this year,” he said.
“Having stood for the leadership and having stepped up to serve in the transitional government I am giving the PM and her chosen team space to set out their strategy for delivering for our country.”
Other senior backbenchers have told PoliticsHome that they are still yet to take a decision on whether they will attend, just days before the event begins in Birmingham.
One former minister joked that they may extend their holiday to stay out of the country for longer while the conference is ongoing.
Chair of the Treasury Select Committee Mel Stride has also said he will not be going, and said that is because of “other things that I have on”.
There is significant unease among Tory backbenchers about the economic turmoil following last week’s fiscal event. The Bank of England was forced to intervene after the announcements devalued the pound and plunged the markets into chaos.
Stride has already warned there will need to be a “rethink” of the proposals and thought that Truss and Kwarteng were in for a “very difficult conversation” when they met with the budget watchdog this morning.
Ahead of their meeting with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) on Friday, Stride said of the plans: "I suspect strongly that it will be that, this circle cannot be squared.
“You can't come forward with multiple billions of unfunded tax cuts in a high inflationary environment with a very tight labour market and expect that – along with various supply side changes – to develop the growth that's going to pay for those tax cuts. That just isn't feasible.”
On Thursday, Labour surged to a 33 point lead in the polls, according to data gathered by YouGov.
The numbers showed 54 per cent support for Sir Keir Starmer's party, compared to 21 per cent of people who said the would back the Conservatives.
With additional reporting by Adam Payne.
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