If it’s really ‘no more Mr Nice Guy’ from Sunak, why not remove the whip from Liz Truss?

by Kevin Meagher

‘In the next few days, we will all see more of the new-look Rishi Sunak,’ the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg predicted yesterday, previewing the Conservative party conference which is about to start in Manchester.

“’Mr Safe Pair of Hands’ is gone – it’s ‘No more Mr Nice Guy’ now,’ apparently.

Truly, the sort of dismal, by-the-numbers briefing that PMs in trouble always make.

John Major amusingly claimed that when your back’s against the wall, you should ‘turn around and come out fighting.’

Croaky Iain Duncan-Smith was the quiet man turning up the volume.

We’ve been here a million times.

When you’re taking political blows, the inevitable relaunch always looks to project raw power.

The claim of decisiveness is usually inverse to the reality.

The true test of a leader is what they do, not what they claim. A brand – or rebrand – must be founded on substance.

So, in a spirit of ecumenism from across the political aisle, let me suggest how Sunak can transform words into deeds with one simple move.

Remove the whip from Liz Truss.

Madam 49 Jours appears to have de-iced from the political Siberia she was sent to last year – by her own colleagues and the international money markets.

She is threatening to write a book about how there’s a decade to save the West or some such, desperately grasping for relevance.

Her Growth Commission – a bunch of neo-liberal types banging on about deregulation – was quoted in The Times the other day complaining how ‘government red tape’ (yawn) was costing the economy £143 billion.

But her attempts at rehabilitation are a direct repudiation of Sunak and his ongoing efforts to undo her insane micro-premiership.

And it is a zero-sum equation: If Truss is correct and taxes are too high and regulation too stringent, then Sunak must be to blame.

So why put up with such arrant disloyalty from someone who caused genuine and deep harm to the British people?

Moreover, she is openly campaigning against her own party as we enter the funnel period before a make-or-break election, imperilling any chance of a Tory revival.

Why allow her to stay and undermine him and everything he has done to reverse the damage she did?

After all, the cold reality is that no-one in the Tory party is prepared to die on a hill defending Truss. (Ironically, given her surname, she has no real support).

Still unconvinced? Then Sunak should look at the nearest comparison.

This is not a piece to delve into the particulars of how Jeremy Corbyn finds himself without the Labour whip (but he is) and the impression given to many voters who abandoned Labour in 2019 is that Labour must have changed under Keir Starmer as a result.

A similar prize awaits Rishi Sunak. Dramatic political gestures are like wormholes, transporting a party from no-hopers to sudden contenders.

He could dominate the political stage this week in Manchester with one swift, decisive move. Looking strong and prime ministerial by removing the most discredited politician in Britain from his camp.

John Major was infamously caught bemoaning that if he sacked Michael Portillo, John Redwood and Peter Lilley from his cabinet – arch-Thatcherite critics of his administration – that he would have ‘three more of the bastards’ on the backbenches looking to do him in.

It didn’t do him any good.

Sunak is at the point where he is untouchable. There is no prospect of a putsch against him. The Tories can’t change horses again. For good or ill, he will lead them into the next general election.

So, he should seize his opportunity.

Prove its ‘no more Mr. Nice Guy’ by pushing Truss out onto the ice floe.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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