The Daily Telegraph

Men in grey suits hold the scissors as the PM hangs on by a thread

1922 Committee chairman could convince Truss to stand down as they meet twice in one week

- By Christophe­r Hope and Camilla Turner

SIR Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, is expected to go and see the Prime Minister within the next 36 hours to convey concern among backbench Tory MPS about the turbulent past few days, senior Conservati­ves said last night.

It would be his second meeting with Liz Truss this week, which is likely to be seen as an indicator that her position is now hanging by a thread.

On a day of fast-moving developmen­ts in Westminste­r, in which Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, ripped up large parts of the mini-budget and more MPS came forward to call on Ms Truss to resign, Sir Graham went to see Ms Truss for a private audience.

Downing Street insisted that the meeting was nothing more than a regular planned catch-up, but the fact that it took place against the backdrop of a mutinous atmosphere in the party will fuel speculatio­n that her days in office are numbered.

Sir Graham will report back to the 1922 executive committee at their next meeting at 4pm tomorrow, ahead of the 5pm meeting for all backbench Tory MPS.

A meeting of the officers of the committee late last night resolved that there was no need to change any rules that currently prevent a new no-confidence vote in the PM until September next year.

One source aware of what was discussed at the meeting said that Sir Graham is now expected to go to see the Prime Minister to pass on concerns raised at the meeting.

Ms Truss’s performanc­e at Prime Minister’s Questions this week is now seen as “make or break” for her.

“If she does well, she can steady the ship. If not, things will deteriorat­e rapidly,” the source said.

Her appearance in the Commons tomorrow, and the mood behind her on the Tory benches, could go a long way to determinin­g the fate of her premiershi­p. A visit from Sir Graham to the Prime Minister is regarded as pivotal in determinin­g their fate. He went to see Ms Truss to tell her she did not have the support of the parliament­ary party over the 45p tax rate – and by 7am the next morning the policy had been ditched.

He also went to see Boris Johnson when he was prime minister to warn him that he had lost the confidence of his MPS. The following day, Mr Johnson resigned.

Friends of Sir Graham last night said that no meeting was planned.

Sir Graham, who is the longest serving chairman of the 1922 Committee, has held the role for over a decade. He was there for the fall of David Cameron, and was also in post for the toppling of Theresa May.

He is the only person who knows how many no confidence letters have been submitted about the Prime Minister – a secret he guards closely, not even sharing the informatio­n with the other executive committee members.

Sir Graham gave no indication at a 1922 meeting yesterday that the number of letters of no confidence that would have triggered a vote of MPS under the old rules had been breached.

Normally, it requires 15 per cent of the parliament­ary party to write to force a leadership vote, meaning she would face one if 53 of her MPS submitted no confidence letters. But under the current rules, set by the 1922 Committee, prime ministers are immune from facing a leadership challenge for a year after they are elected – but there are also discussion­s among MPS about changing this so Ms Truss could face a vote sooner.

If the Prime Minister were ousted or resigned, the 1922 executive would then meet to discuss the rules for an upcoming leadership contest. The first stage is for candidates to secure enough backing from colleagues to make a final shortlist.

Then there are several stages of voting among MPS, before the final two candidates are put to the party membership ballot.

But there is no appetite within the party to give members a say on who the next prime minister would be – with MPS arguing that this would merely prolong the instabilit­y of the government.

MPS are demanding a change to the party’s constituti­on that would see grassroots members cut out of the selection process for a new prime minister.

There has been talk among MPS that the 1922 Committee, which sets the party’s internal rulebook, could change the rules given the outcry among MPS.

But several sources on the committee have admitted privately that the rules could easily be bypassed if the “men in grey suits” – a reference to the string of senior ministers who visited Margaret Thatcher to tell her to resign after she narrowly survived a leadership challenge by Michael Heseltine – could convince Ms Truss to stand down of her own volition.

Even a few days ago there was talk of whether Ms Truss would still be in Downing Street by Christmas – but now rebel MPS are increasing­ly speculatin­g whether she will even last until the end of the week.

Five Tory MPS have now publicly called for her to go, with several more considerin­g whether to join them.

Some Cabinet ministers are understood to have started reaching out to rebels to say they are privately supportive of their criticism of Ms Truss.

“Liz has got to go, it’s just a matter of time,” one senior backbenche­r said.

“It is just no longer viable, I don’t know how she can survive. With the best will in the world, it is difficult to see a way out.”

‘If she does well at PMQS, she can steady the ship. If not, things will deteriorat­e rapidly’

 ?? ?? Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, has been in post for 12 years
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, has been in post for 12 years

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