Conservative MPs, not the opposition, stopped Liz Truss from cutting the top rate of income tax – John McLellan

Clearly the talk of the Conservative conference was the U-turn on the abolition of the top rate of income tax, as it became clear to the party leadership that the scale of the mounting rebellion was such that the government could be facing one of the most embarrassing defeats in recent memory.

Liz Truss delivers her keynote address on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham (Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)
Liz Truss delivers her keynote address on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham (Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

When party chairman Jake Berry issued a threat to suspend every MP who voted against the budget, it threatened to create a schism which would make the expulsion of pro-EU Conservative MPs by Boris Johnson in 2019 look like a minor spat.

Scrapping the move was the pragmatic thing to do, and pragmatism must surely be at the heart of everything the Prime Minster does now if any good to come from the energy cap and the reduction in the bottom rate of income tax is to be salvaged.

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It won’t suit opponents, but the truth is it was Tory MPs who both followed their instincts and listened to their constituents and did the right thing by making it clear to Downing Street that the move simply wouldn’t wash.

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Opponents will now be on the warpath about expected controls on welfare budgets, so the government needs every opportunity to talk about the energy cap and the bill payments now being made which will help families cope.

It will be a hard enough winter as globally driven inflation bites into household budgets and the cost of mortgages increases and the government needs to ensure there are no further distractions from the challenges ahead.