James Cleverly hits out at fellow ministers as Tory civil war rages on


oreign Secretary James Cleverly has hit out at fellow ministers for taking a personal stance on Government policy as the Tory civil war raged on.

Liz Truss’s first conference as Conservative leader and Prime Minister has been overshadowed by an extraordinary breakdown in party discipline after Tory rebels forced a U-turn over tax cuts.

With a new row looming over plans to raise benefits in line with earnings rather than inflation, Leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt broke Cabinet ranks on Tuesday to say she supported pensions and welfare payments “keeping pace with inflation”.

But Mr Cleverly insisted ministers should air their differences of opinion in private around the Cabinet table.

“All Cabinet colleagues ultimately are going to have to abide by collective responsibility,” the Foreign Secretary said. “It’s always better and easier to feed ideas, particularly when you’re in government and you have access to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister directly into the centre of the system.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who accused former ministers and Tory MPs of staging a coup over the abolition of the 45 per cent top tax-rate, was slapped down by No10 after suggesting at a conference fringe event the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights.

Although Ms Braverman admitted it was a personal view, The Times quoted a No10 source saying “if she wishes to make those views known within government she should do so in a more appropriate setting.”

Asked about Ms Braverman’s “coup” comments, Mr Cleverly said that it was not his interpretation of events.

The minister also hit back at former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps who suggested the Prime Minister had 10 days to turn her premiership around, describing the suggestion as “ridiculous”.

In a further sign of dissent in the Tory ranks however, former Brexit minister David Davis said Margaret Thatcher would never have tried to impose a real terms cut in benefits at the time of a cost of living crisis.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “All this stuff about, let’s say one of the controversies, cutting benefits. Well, that’s not a real option. Margaret Thatcher would never have tried that and under these circumstances with the winter coming up that we have.”

Another Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake also criticised the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng over the failure to publish an Office for Budget Responsibility analysis alongside of the public finances his mini budget last month.

“It’s not so much our level of debt, it’s the rate of increase and the uncertainty about its future levels,” he tweeted. “Hence the reason why we needed the OBR forecast to accompany the debt-raising mini budget.”