Liz Truss warned of key issues that risk tripping PM up

Truss ‘in a difficult position’ says Simon Usherwood

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Liz Truss is in line for a fresh test as Parliament gets back to business for the first sustained period since the death of the Queen last month. Ms Truss had been in office for just two days when the announcement from Buckingham Palace triggered a political pause until after the state funeral, with MPs only briefly returning to the Commons three weeks ago before rising again for the conference recess.

She is now tasked with winning over colleagues spooked by the impact of the seismic mini-budget that was squeezed in before the break, and the humiliating U-turn on tax that followed.

It is understood she will urge MPs to unite when they return to Westminster this week.

But MPs in her party are far from convinced the Prime Minister will succeed in her task.

One senior Tory told Politico Ms Truss is looking “weak”. Another said “everything” could be the next hurdle to cause the Prime Minister to “trip up”.

Among the reforms set to prove more difficult for Liz Truss, Brexit and immigration are the most challenging.

Negotiations between UK and EU officials restarted last week. However, the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill is continuing to make its way through parliament.

The Bill, which is set to be debated in the House of Lords in the coming weeks, would allow the UK Government to effectively tear up parts of the protocol.

Ms Truss, who drafted the Bill as Foreign Secretary in May, insisted the Bill is “consistent with our obligations in international law and in support of our prior obligations in the Belfast Good Friday agreement”.

The Prime Minister is also planning on increasing immigration to support the UK economy. Reforms to Britain’s visa system including increasing the occupations shortage list will help encourage talent to Britain and cover labour shortages.

Ms Truss is planning to raise the cap on seasonal agricultural workers from the current six-month limit, according to The Sun.

English-language requirements could also be lowered to help more people qualify for visas, according to an article citing a Downing Street official.

While any relaxation of immigration rules may resolve the short-term labour shortages, such a move is likely to anger Brexit voters, who saw leaving the EU as an opportunity to grow the domestic labour market instead of relying on foreign workers.

Tory MPs fearful of losing their seats to the Labour Party are also warning the Prime Minister against pursuing her plans to halt a ban on fracking in a bid to increase the extraction of oil and gas from the North Sea.

The Prime Minister appeared to make an attempt to heal party wounds ahead of a big week for her premiership by choosing Greg Hands – who supported her rival Rishi Sunak in the Conservative leadership race – to replace sacked minister Conor Burns in the Department for International Trade.

Cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi has warned “delay is our biggest enemy” as he sought to quell disquiet in Tory ranks after a tumultuous week for the party.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said colleagues must “focus” on delivering for the country, as any “dither” will “end in defeat” for the Conservatives.

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But tensions were still running high on Sunday, as a senior Tory MP warned the current mood in the party is “febrile”, with many backbenchers – and indeed members of the Government -“very concerned at where we are in the polls”.

It came after Mr Zahawi, along with three other Cabinet ministers, wrote articles for Sunday papers calling on Conservatives to rally behind Liz Truss as the she battles to steady the ship following an annual party conference blighted by infighting.

A No 10 source said the “cold, hard reality” is the party must “get behind Liz” or wind up with a “monstrous coalition of Labour and the SNP”, amid deep division in Tory ranks – with flashpoints including welfare and the environment.

Mr Zahawi used a round of broadcast interviews on Sunday to call for the party to unite or risk sacrificing the keys to No 10 to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

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