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Liz Truss to launch ‘Popular Conservatism’ group in bid to shape Tory manifesto

Yet another faction forms – this one backed by former Truss ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Simon Clarke

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Monday 22 January 2024 19:29 GMT
‘Reaction’ to mini budget the reason British economy spiralled, Liz Truss says

Liz Truss is setting up yet another Conservative faction in a bid to push Rishi Sunak further to the right with the party’s general election manifesto.

The former PM – kicked out of No 10 by her own party after only six weeks in charge – will launch the Popular Conservatism group early next month.

The new push by free-market right-wingers is backed by former ministers in the Truss government, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Simon Clarke and Ranil Jayawardena.

Despite leaving No 10 in disgrace after his mini-budget debacle sparked market panic, Ms Truss has continued to push her low-tax agenda as he tries to restore her reputation.

Advertising a 6 February launch event, the “PopCon” organisation promise a “new movement aiming to restore democratic accountability to Britain” and deliver “popular” Tory policies.

The Independent understands that the group is aiming to help shape the next Conservative manifesto in the months ahead, as Mr Sunak and party chiefs prepare their election campaign for the second half of 2024.

Liz Truss has been unapologetic about economic chaos during her time at No 10 (Getty Images)

The new Popular Conservatism movement will not replace another group set up by Ms Truss’s allies last year called the Conservative Growth Group.

The free-market faction has not proved particularly active or influential – though has pushed for the liberalising the planning system to get more houses built.

Ms Truss has been largely unapologetic about her unfunded spree of tax cuts which saw her short premiership unravel in October 2022. She has continued to lash out at economists and “institutional bureaucracy” in defending the ideas behind her disastrous mini-budget.

Ms Truss’ latest association joins an extremely crowded field of Conservative groups and factions. It comes hot on the heels of gatherings by the so-called “five families” of the Tory right who tried to toughen up the Rwanda deportation bill.

The European Research Group joined dozens of MPs aligned with the New Conservatives, the Common Sense Group, the Northern Research Group and the Conservative Growth Group to plot amendments which ultimately failed.

The Conservatives’ election strategy Isaac Levido has appealed for unity as the party continues to squabble over the totemic “stop the boats” policy.

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who is believed to have been working closely with the New Conservatives to change the bill, has refused to rule out a bid for the leadership of the party.

But no figure on the right as emerged as a series rival to Mr Sunak, with the vast majority of MPs resigned to him leading the party into the general election.

A close ally of ex-home secretary Suella Braverman – herself thought to be keen on the leadership – has told people that business secretary Kemi Badenoch should be installed as leader if there is a push against Mr Sunak, according to the Sunday Times.

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