Senior Tories 'boycott' Conservative Party conference as MPs fume over mini-budget fallout

Senior Tories are appearing to boycott the Conservative Party conference as backbench MPs express dismay and anger over the fallout from the chancellor's mini-budget.

Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, David Davis and Mel Stride have all told Sky News they will not be attending the annual conference, which is due to start this weekend in Birmingham.

Their decision comes as the Bank of England launched a temporary bond-buying programme as part of emergency action to prevent "material risk" to the UK's financial stability after Kwasi Kwarteng announced tax cuts funded by government borrowing on Friday.

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The government on Wednesday refused to accept his announcements were responsible for the economic turmoil and said they would not be changing any of the plans.

Mr Sunak, the former chancellor who lost to Liz Truss in the Tory leadership race, warned his rival during the campaign that her tax-cutting plans would send the economy into freefall.

During a debate in July, Mr Sunak accused her of "fairytale economics" as she promised unfunded tax cuts and said it would cause "inflationary spiral".

Mr Davis, the former Brexit secretary, said on Friday that he welcomed Mr Kwarteng's decision to reverse the National Insurance rise in the mini-budget.

Since then, the pound has plummeted as markets react to the chancellor's tax cuts.

Mr Stride, chair of the Treasury select committee, said that the government, the Treasury and the Bank of England have got to "stabilise the situation as soon as possible".

He said his decision to not attend the conference is "nothing to do" with the mini-budget and was because there were "other things that I have on".

'Possessed by some sort of evangelical zeal'

Other backbench Tory MPs have not held back when describing their anger.

Mr Kwarteng held a call with backbench MPs on Tuesday to reassure them everything was alright but many did not buy it.

A former minister and Northern MP told Sky News the Tory party "has been possessed by some sort of evangelical zeal".

"It defies all scientific and economic logic, it is utterly humiliating the UK's central banks have had to step in," they said.

"They knew this would happen, and reports the PM didn't want to intervene confirms everything I and colleagues feared about her not being fit for the job."

Another Conservative backbencher simply said: "I'm shell-shocked."

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A senior Tory backbench MP told Sky News: "I thought Boris's cabinet was the worst in history, this one's just beaten it.

"The argument on growth is sensible, but they need to explain it more robustly.

"The government needs to be far more open. They need to get a grip and explain how they are going to grip this because frankly, I don't understand some of it."

Another said "someone will have to carry the can" for the mess that has been created.

'Everyone just needs to calm down'

Others have said MPs just need to "hold our nerve" to allow for the mini-budget plan to be put into action and the markets to settle.

A former cabinet minister said: "Humiliations come and go. I'm holding fire."

Another former minister said the markets would settle and added: "A number of newer MPS get spooked often, everyone just needs to calm down.

"The markets won't be settled by that kind of tittle-tattle."

The chancellor held meetings with investment bank bosses on Wednesday to try to reassure them the mini-budget "would expand the supply side of the economy through tax incentives and reforms, helping to deliver greater opportunities and bear down on inflation".

Sir Keir Starmer joined the Lib Dems and the SNP on Wednesday in calling for parliament to be recalled on Monday to discuss the turmoil - and to also abandon the budget.

Only the prime minister can recall parliament, with 24 hours' notice needed.