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Liz Truss: After a torrid Tory conference, what next for the Prime Minister?

Prime Minister Liz Truss after delivering her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham (Aaron Chown/PA)
Prime Minister Liz Truss after delivering her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham (Aaron Chown/PA)

After a torrid Tory conference, there is likely to be no let-up for Liz Truss as she seeks to return some stability to her premiership.

In a short speech to the Conservative Party’s conference, the Prime Minister sought to reassure her party and voters alike as she promised to steer the country through the “tempest” and “get Britain moving”.

But for Ms Truss, who has warned of a difficult winter ahead, the coming weeks are likely to be as rocky for her own administration as they are for the country.

Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham
Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)

Here is what lies ahead for the under-fire Prime Minister:

– October 6

Ms Truss will go straight from the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, where she was forced to battle with rebellious MPs and reassure anxious party members, to Prague for a meeting of the European Political Community.

She attends the summit, devised by French President Emmanuel Macron to bring together a wider collection of European states, with her authority weakened at home but with hopes of making progress at talks with leaders from across the continent.

The Prime Minister had been an outright sceptic of the project as foreign secretary, so her decision to attend caused some surprise.

Downing Street has said that while there her focus will be on migration, energy and the war in Ukraine, with meetings expected to take place with Mr Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

– October 11

The end of conference recess will see MPs of all stripes flock back to Westminster. For Ms Truss it will be an opportunity to stamp discipline on her parliamentary colleagues after a fractious conference period and Downing Street has suggested that Tory whips will seek to restore order.

However, it could also see a hardening of the internal rebellion against any plan not to increase benefits in line with inflation.

Conservative Party Conference 2022
Prime Minister Liz Truss has a busy schedule in the weeks to come (Jacob King/PA)

Ms Truss will also have to eventually get some parts of the mini-budget through the Commons, which will mean seeing down any potential rebellion or winning over some of her detractors to some of the more controversial parts of her economic vision.

And as the weeks go by, she will also be under pressure to deliver on some of her broader priorities and campaign promises, all amid the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis.

– October 19

Ms Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have so far repeatedly declined to say whether benefits will rise in line with inflation, as the pair try to find savings following the tax-cutting mini-budget.

October 19 will see the publication of the latest consumer price inflation data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), setting out where inflation stood in September.

With pensions protected from the impact of inflation by the triple lock, the Government is under pressure to ensure that benefit claimants do not now see a real-terms cut in income.

Prime Minister Liz Truss arrives in Downing Street in London, after delivering her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham
Prime Minister Liz Truss arrives in Downing Street in London, after delivering her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham (James Manning/PA)

A decision is likely to be made in the coming weeks and the publication of the data by the ONS will probably fuel calls for the Government to ensure welfare support does increase with inflation.

– October 28

This is the deadline by which the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is technically required to set a date for another Assembly election, if powersharing is not restored in the region.

Stormont collapsed earlier this year amid a row over the Northern Ireland Protocol and has not returned despite elections in May.

So far both the Prime Minister and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris have said another election will be held, but as the deadline approaches and with no sign of the Democratic Unionist Party agreeing a return to Stormont, the Government will need to decide whether to follow through on the threat.

– November 23

In recent days there had been confusion over the date Mr Kwarteng would publish his fiscal plan and Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts, after the Chancellor told his party conference that the highly anticipated data would be published “shortly”.

His allies had been hinting this meant bringing the publications forward from November 23 to this month.

Conservative Party Conference 2022
Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng are both under pressure since the disastrous reaction to the mini-budget (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But Ms Truss told GB News that the originally planned date is “when we’re going to set out the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts but also our medium-term fiscal plan”.

Downing Street aides said only that the Prime Minister may consider bringing the date forward, downgrading the likelihood of the move.

Then, in a separate GB News interview, Mr Kwarteng denied he was changing his plan, saying “shortly is the 23rd” and suggesting people had been “reading the runes” incorrectly.

It comes amid calls from within the Tory backbenches to move the date as a way to calm jittery markets about the Government’s fiscal plans.

Presuming the date remains November 23, it is likely to be one of the most important days of Ms Truss’s brief premiership as she and Mr Kwarteng seek to reassure the financial markets and avoid the catastrophic loss of confidence sparked by September’s mini-budget.

If the sums add up, and the Government’s plan gets the backing of the OBR, it could represent a major turning point for the Prime Minister and her embattled Chancellor.

But if not, it could prove another shattering – if not fatal – blow to Ms Truss’s premiership.