UK

Liz Truss branded ‘pathetic’– furious Boris allies panic over looming leadership challenge

The favourite Cabinet minister among grassroots Tories has been accused of “desperate” self-promotion. Those close to the Prime Minister are thought to believe Ms Truss is exploiting the uncertainty over Omicron to make her pitch as a libertarian.

Mr Johnson decided against introducing new Covid measures this week despite pleas from scientists, in part due to the lack of unanimous support from the Cabinet.

Ministers met for more than two hours on Monday as they debated the latest coronavirus data and whether more restrictions were needed before Christmas.

As many as ten – a third of the Cabinet – are said to have spoken out against new measures.

Since then a series of anonymous briefings have taken place, with ministers eager to let it be known they were not in favour of draconian measures.

READ MORE ON OUR COVID LIVE BLOG 

The briefings have left Mr Johnson’s allies furious, according to The Times, with Ms Truss coming under the heaviest fire.

While Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng have all been recused due to protecting their stakeholders, the Foreign Secretary is blamed for playing politics.

“I understand Rishi and Grant’s positioning — they represent sectors at risk and which would require bailouts etc, ditto Kwasi,” one Government source said.

“Liz Truss — less so.

“What industries is she trying to protect?

“It smells like she’s trying to heavily position herself as a Conservative libertarian.

READ MORE: Sajid Javid confirms Covid self-isolation period cut to just 7 days

More than 100 Tory MPs voted against the introduction of vaccine passports last week, with threats of further revolts if more measures are imposed.

The group makes up more than a quarter of Conservative MPs, a large percentage for any hopeful future leader to win over.

Last night the Prime Minister ruled out introducing any more restrictions before Christmas but said he may still take action before the New Year if the data suggested it was necessary.

He said: “Naturally we can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas – and we’re going to keep a constant eye on the data, and we’ll do whatever it takes to protect public health.

“But in view of the continuing uncertainty about several things – the severity of Omicron, uncertainty about the hospitalisation rate or the impact of the vaccine rollout or the boosters, we don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.

“We continue to monitor Omicron very closely and if the situation deteriorates we will be ready to take action if needed.

“What this means is that people can go ahead with their Christmas plans but the situation remains finely balanced and I would urge everyone to exercise caution, to keep protecting yourselves and your loved ones, especially the vulnerable.

“And remember to keep following the guidance – wear a mask indoors when required to do so, keep fresh air circulating, and take a test before you visit elderly or vulnerable relatives.”



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