Sir Keir Starmer is calling for an immediate general election regardless of whether Liz Truss remains in No 10 or is forced out by her party.
“Change in personnel at the top of the Tory party is not the change we need. We need a change of government,” said Starmer, after Truss sacked Kwasi Kwarteng and made Jeremy Hunt chancellor.
Starmer told the Guardian that Truss has driven the UK’s economy “into a wall” while “trashing our institutions” and that people are now “looking to Labour for the answers to the next election”.
The Labour leader said a general election is necessary immediately adding: “We are in the absurd situation where we are on the third, fourth prime minister in six years and within weeks we have a got a prime minister who has the worst reputational ratings of any prime minister pretty well in history.
“Their party is completely exhausted and clapped out. It has got no ideas, it can’t face the future and it has left the UK in a defensive crouch where we are not facing the challenges of the future because we haven’t got a government that could lead us to the future.
“For the good of the country we need a general election.”
Starmer said the “gateway to government” is economic stability and credibility as shown by Labour’s fiscal rules and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves who has pledged to lay out the costings and workings of every policy.
His comments came following a turbulent day that saw the PM summon her chancellor back from a summit in Washington and sack Kwarteng before he had even got to Downing Street. In a bid to restore market confidence in her government’s economic plan, Truss appointed Jeremy Hunt to the vacant role and said the cut to corporation tax will not go-ahead.
It is a major U-turn as cutting corporation tax was a key policy of Truss’s election campaign with repeated promises to Tory members that it would be cut immediately. The new chancellor Hunt was briefly a contender in the leadership race and he told party members that he would cut corporation tax even further than Truss to 15%.
However, rather than falling, Truss today (October 14) announced that corporation tax will rise to 25%.
The markets were not reassured by the sacking, appointment or U-turns and neither were Truss’s own MPs. The biggest question dominating media and news reports is how long does the prime minister have left?
Because Starmer would win a landslide in a general election, he is not the bookies favourite to succeed Truss in No 10. Labour is more than 30 points ahead of the Tories in the polls and Conservative MPs don’t want to lose their jobs in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Which is why bookmakers have tipped Rishi Sunak to be the next prime minister. There are suggestions he will form a “dream team” with Penny Mordaunt to by time to unify the Conservative party which is facing electoral wipeout after Truss, Boris Johnson and Brexit.
But to merely “start changing the personnel again” is not right, said Starmer, adding: “It’s not just a few weeks of chaos, it’s 12 years of failure.”
He continued: “We’ve got an economy which has been stagnant, not growing enough for 12 years. We’ve got public services on their knees, if not on their face.
“We’ve got a government run out of ideas, energy and completely at the end of the road. And now it is in the worst of all states – in denial.”