Express & Star

Tory MPs rally round Liz Truss amid 'misrepresented' claims

Tory MPs have backed Liz Truss to "knuckle down and get on with the job" as they played down claims of a growing civil war in the party.

Liz Truss delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham

The Prime Minister's supporters in the Black Country have rallied round her after a party conference in Birmingham that was dogged with reports of in-fighting and rows over economic policy.

They have told her to ignore the critics – including those in her own party – and to push on with her growth plan.

It comes after a testing start to the PM's premiership, which has seen market turmoil over the Chancellor's fiscal measures followed by a U-turn on scrapping the 45p tax rate.

And as claims of a Tory civil war continued to swell, former Cabinet minister Grant Shapps said the PM had 10 days to turn things around, with MPs fearful of losing their seats considering whether they "might as well roll the dice" on a new leader.

Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb, who is a close confidant of the PM and serves as her PPS, said the conference atmosphere had been "very good" and accused sections of the media of "misrepresenting the mood".

She said in her speech Ms Truss had "left the conference and the country in no doubt she wants to get on with the job and deliver on energy transition, energy security and economic growth".

She added: "It’s now time to get on with the job. We are the party of business and enterprise – that is how we will prosper by encouraging investment and entrepreneurs to drive the growth we need to pay for public services."

MPs gathered to watch Liz Truss's speech at the Tory Party conference

Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, who backed Liz Truss in the leadership contest, insisted she will "100 per cent deliver" after a difficult first few weeks in the job.

He said much of the negativity surrounding the party was being led by "anti-government" sections of the media and a very small number of Conservative MPs with "bruised egos".

Mr Longhi attended the conference but missed the PM's speech as he was doing constituency work in Kates Hill.

He told the Star the mood around the International Convention Centre had been "mainly positive" and that plenty of MPs were "wholeheartedly" behind the Government's economic plans.

"What we are seeing is that the anti-government media has moved targets from Boris to Liz," Mr Longhi said. "At the same time we have a very small number of MPs with bruised egos over the leadership election who are showing their discontent.

"The truth of it is that many colleagues are very pleased with the package put together by the Chancellor because they understand that growth is the only way out of the predicament we find ourselves in economically.

"People have been stuck on the same wages for a long time because our economy hasn't grown significantly. This plan will see more jobs created and wages rise – which is something we can all get behind.

"It is a shame that the 45p tax rate, which was only a very small part of the overall policy, is being talked about a lot more than all the positives, like the support on energy bills, and cuts to corporation tax and the basic rate of income tax."

Grant Shapps (centre) during day three of the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

Mr Longhi conceded that ditching the top tax rate had been "difficult to sell" to people in areas such as the Black Country, and suggested it was right to change direction after taking on board expert advice.

He added: "What we need to do now is knuckle down and get on with the job and work together for the good of the country."

Wolverhampton South West MP Stuart Anderson, a government whip, said the PM had "stepped up and delivered an outstanding speech" which "really hit the mark".

"She got the mood spot on and I think she is now in a great position to deliver a strong agenda over the coming weeks and months," he said.

Other MPs, speaking privately, have bemoaned the way the Conservatives have been portrayed in the media. They say their experience of being in Birmingham is very different to the one they see when they turn on the evening news.

One MP told the Star there had effectively been "two conferences" going on. "I have seen the way the conference has been reported on television and don't recognise it at all from my experiences here over the last four days," the MP said.

"The mood among MPs and activists is good, but the focus in the media has been on giving air time to a few upset colleagues who are not planning on standing at next election."

Meanwhile another told the Star there were "a lot of nervous" MPs milling around at the conference. "the ," the MP said.

"It has been a tough start and the jury is still out as to whether we are heading in the right direction."

Another MP said members "definitely wanted the PM to succeed" and were pleased with the way her speech had gone over.