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    UK ministers urge party to back under-fire PM Truss

    LONDON (AFP) – Four ministers in Liz Truss’s government yesterday urged Conservative colleagues to back the embattled United Kingdom (UK) prime minister following a punishing week that exposed deep divisions within the party.

    Interior Minister Suella Braverman, former finance minister Nadhim Zahawi, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt and Environment Minister Ranil Jayawardena all wrote articles for yesterday’s newspapers warning that they would soon find themselves in opposition unless the party united quickly.

    Braverman wrote in The Sun On Sunday, “Those working with Labour to undermine our prime minister are putting the Conservatives’ chance of victory at the next election in real danger.

    “So the choice for my colleagues and for us as party is simple – Back Liz or get (Labour leader) Keir Starmer, hand-in-hand with (SNP leader) Nicola Sturgeon.”

    Braverman, however, was one of several ministers who went against Downing Street directions during her speech at the chaotic Tory Party conference this week.

    Zahawi wrote in the Mail On Sunday that the government had made mistakes unrolling its fiscal policy, which led to a humiliating climbdown over a plan to cut income tax rates for the top earners.

    Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss waves along with her husband Hugh O’Leary after making a speech at the Conservative Party conference at the ICC in Birmingham. PHOTO: AP

    But he said that “now is the time” to rally behind Truss, again warning that rebels risked ushering in a Labour government “propped up” by the SNP.

    Fresh polling by Opinium for the Observer has put Truss’s personal approval rating at minus 47.

    In a sign of her fallibility, Cabinet ministers are reported to be joining forces to demand Truss rules out mooted plans to raise benefits in line with wages rather than inflation, The Sunday Times reported.

    Former leadership rival Mordaunt was one of those who spoke out on the issue during the party conference. But she struck a conciliatory tone in a Sunday Telegraph article.

    “You measure leaders when they are in the ring dazzled by the media lights taking punch after punch and taking the hard decisions required,” she wrote.

    “All my colleagues have a part to play in delivering for the people. Division will only play into the hands of those who would take our country in the wrong direction.”

    Jayawardena meanwhile wrote in the Sunday Express that Tory MPs must “get behind” the prime minister. “We need to back Liz Truss – or get Keir Starmer in Nicola Sturgeon’s pocket.”

    Starmer has vowed not to make an electoral deal with the SNP, which favours Scottish independence from the rest of the UK, and said Labour would rather form a minority government.

    Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries is one of those Conservatives taking aim at Truss’ goverment.

    She warned again yesterday that the prime minister would have to change course on certain key policies or see the party’s polling deficit, currently sitting around 30 points behind Labour, worsen.

    “I’m still one of Liz’s biggest supporters,” she told BBC yesterday. “Now is the time, while we have a new prime minister and administration, to reflect on what’s gone wrong and reverse that poll deficit.

    “What we don’t need is a disruptor. We need a unifier.”

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