Liz Truss has apologised for the “mistakes” she has made in her first few volatile weeks as prime minister – but insisted she will lead the Tories into the next general election.
Speaking for the first time after almost all the tax cuts announced in last month’s mini-budget were scrapped, Ms Truss said: “I recognise we have made mistakes.
“I am sorry for those mistakes, but I fixed those mistakes. I appointed a new chancellor, we have restored economic stability and fiscal discipline.
“What I now want to do is go on and deliver for the public.
“We were elected on the 2019 manifesto, and I want to go on and deliver that.”
After a fifth Conservative MP – senior backbencher Sir Charles Walker – warned her days are numbered, Ms Truss said she was focused on “delivering for the British public”.
“We are in difficult economic times; we are in different international times with the war being perpetrated in Ukraine.
“Now is the time to focus on delivering, making sure we are delivering on our energy package,” she said.
Speaking to the BBC, the prime minister added: “I wanted to act… to help people with their energy bills to deal with the issue of high taxes, but we went too far and too fast. I’ve acknowledged that.”
Ms Truss said it was the “mark of an honest politician” to admit their mistakes.
She said she is “sticking around” because she was “elected to deliver for this country”, adding: “I will lead the Conservatives into the next general election.”
Ms Truss is battling to save her premiership after new chancellor Jeremy Hunt tore up the bulk of the economic strategy that brought her into office as prime minister just six weeks ago.
On Tuesday, she is expected to meet the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, after meeting with the One Nation wing of the party on Monday evening.
Ms Truss became PM after winning the Tory leadership contest on the back of promises to dramatically cut tax and upend the status quo in the Treasury.
But she has been left humiliated by a raft of U-turns after her tax-slashing mini-budget unleashed turbulence in the financial markets, sending the pound to record lows against the dollar, interest and mortgage rates soaring, and forcing the Bank of England to intervene.
The chaos ultimately led to Mr Kwarteng’s downfall, and he was sacked after just 38 days in the job.
On Monday, his replacement as chancellor, Mr Hunt, revealed he was reversing nearly all the tax cuts unveiled last month and said he would be setting up an economic advisory council to assist the government as it seeks to repair the damage caused by Ms Truss’s fiscal policies.
The changes Mr Hunt revealed include:
• No cuts to dividend tax rates
• Repeal of the easing of IR35 rules for the self-employed introduced in 2017 and 2021
• No new VAT-free shopping scheme for overseas visitors to the UK
• No freeze on alcohol duty rates
• Basic rate of income tax to remain at 20%, not reduce to 19% from April 2023
• Energy price guarantee only until April 2023
He also signalled there could be U-turns on other policy areas, including the windfall tax, pensions triple lock and pledge to raise defence spending.
The government had already axed plans to scrap the 45p rate of income tax for top earners and had U-turned on a promise not to increase corporation tax.
The extraordinary events have led to some Tory MPs calling for Ms Truss to go, with Sir Charles Walker telling Sky News political editor Beth Rigby: “I think her position is untenable. She has put colleagues, the country, through a huge amount of unnecessary pain and upset and worry.”
He suggested she has one to two weeks to resign before MPs try to remove her.
But Mr Hunt has insisted Ms Truss will be prime minister at Christmas, as he called on rebel Tory MPs to “give her a chance”.