Conservative former ministers are plotting to install Rishi Sunak as caretaker PM to prevent the electoral meltdown

The conservative former minister is plotting to remove Liz Truss as prime minister to install a caretaker leader, with Rishi Sunak emerging as the rebels’ choice, I’ve learned.

MPs are considering “coronating” Sunak at No. 10 unopposed, believing he will improve the economy and give the party a better chance of capturing seats in the next election.

He believes the former chancellor will move “for the good of the country” even if the Tories are set to lose the next election, which is likely to be about 30 points ahead of Labor’s path in multiple opinion polls. .

While many lawmakers expect Truss to show some improvement after a rough start until next May’s local elections, others want to act quickly to crown a new leader, who will be recognized by party members. support will not be required.

An aide of Mr Sunak said he had nothing to do with the plot and that he has spent the past week mainly in his constituency in Richmond, North Yorkshire, as well as the premiere of Matilda the Musical with his daughter on Wednesday. attended, leaving Ms Truss to “own the moment” at a chaotic and divided Tory convention in Birmingham.

“He’s not involved,” the aide said. “He is spending time with family in his constituency.”

In the summer Conservative leadership election, Mr. Sunak won the first round of voting among MPs, but was defeated by Ms. Truss 57.4 per cent to 42.6 per cent in the second round of members’ vote.

However, many believe Mr Sunak’s sharp criticism of Mrs Truss’s economic plans has been proven somewhat correct after her and Chancellor Quasi Quarteng’s mini-budget shook the financial markets, leaving the pound The US dollar has hit an all-time low. Bank of England intervention.

A former cabinet minister told me, “Liz doesn’t have what she needs.” “The sages will do this for the betterment of the country.

“Markets would react immediately – they would see someone in the cockpit who knew how to fly a plane.”

After the disastrous two-year tenure of Ian Duncan Smith, an alternative would be discussed between 2003 and 2005 along the lines of Michael Howard’s leadership of the Tory Party.

Lord Howard took office without a leadership election, with the intention of mitigating Tory losses in the 2005 election for Tony Blair’s Labour. In the end, the party won 33 seats, much more than Sir Ian had anticipated.

However, the plan would be fraught with complications. By the time of Howard’s coronation, Sir Ian had been leader for two years and had lost a trust vote of Tory MPs.

Ms Truss may not face a vote of confidence for her first year of leadership.

Yet the former cabinet minister said it was still possible that Ms Truss could be persuaded to stand by Sir Graham Brady, chair of the Backbench 1922 committee that presided over leadership competitions, if she found it. There were enough letters to show that they no longer have them. MPs’ confidence

Others called for a “gang of four” or five senior figures to “go in and tell her (Ms Truss) that the game is over”.

“Wallace, Sage, Penny, can deftly say ‘Look, this is how you go with dignity’,” one Tory former minister told me.

Another former minister said: “I think some people in the party are fighting with him because they want Rishi’s coronation.”

Penny Mordant, who still harbors ambitions for the top job, with the prospect of running again after the Tories’ loss in the 2024 election, has to be persuaded not to stand down and allow Mr Sunak to win unopposed. would be required.

In 2003, the then MP for West Dorset, Oliver Letwin, persuaded members of the Shadow Cabinet, including David Davis, to support Lord Howard, who wanted to stand as leader.

Tory lawmakers need “someone in the genial Machiavelli mold” like Oliver to persuade allies to support the idea of ​​a coronation, the former cabinet minister said.

While Michael Gove, who led the Tory convention rebellion that forced Ms Truss to do a U-turn to end the 45p top rate of income tax, fits into the role of “General Machiavelli”, calling him “very divisive”. is seen as.

It came as Theresa May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy said MPs were “definitely” talking about “saving” the party from Ms Truss’s ideological reforms.

“Only MPs can do this, but someone needs to protect the Conservative Party from the Liberals,” he said.

I understand Mr Gove used similar language after forcing a 45p U-turn, telling allies that victory meant “libertarians have been stopped in their tracks”.