By Bill Heaney
The prime minister should stand down if she cannot salvage her authority within days, the Scottish Conservatives’ finance spokesperson has said.
Liz Smith said Liz Truss was still in “very grave difficulty” despite a slight improvement in the markets.
Ms Smith said she remains committed to the Conservatives despite “dire” poll results – but there was a danger the Scottish Conservatives could be undermined at Holyrood by recent Westminster turmoil.
She said: “We feel we make a very good case against the SNP on lots of different issues – and yes it’s very disappointing when our UK government enters very turbulent waters.
“What we’ve got to be able to do is ensure that when we are taking decisions in the Scottish Parliament, that are very closely aligned with our colleagues in Westminster and we’re not undermined in any way by what’s going on down south.”
Ms Truss apologised in a BBC interview on Monday after the new chancellor scrapped much of her tax-cutting plans.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said he still backed the PM and the chancellor to deliver growth. I back the prime minister, the chancellor and this government to do what it promised to do – to get growth back into our economy. There’s now a different direction of travel but the ultimate destination has not changed.”
However, Ms Smith said she was angry and disappointed as Ms Truss “has not been able to command the confidence of the nation”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, she said: “She can’t command the confidence of the general public, of colleagues and of the markets.
“There’s been a little improvement on the market scenario to be fair, but she’s got days left to turn this round and if she can’t do that I think she needs to stand down.”
During a dramatic day at Westminster, new chancellor Jeremy Hunt scrapped nearly all the tax cuts announced at last month’s mini-budget.
The decision was welcomed by investors – but the reversals have prompted some Tory MPs to talk privately about how Ms Truss could be ejected from office, despite party rules preventing a formal leadership challenge for a year.
On the same day, Nicola Sturgeon delivered her economic arguments for independence as a Scottish government paper set out proposals for key issues such as currency, trade and border crossings.
Ms Truss later insisted she would lead her party into the next general election, but apologised for making mistakes – a move Ms Smith said may “help her a little bit”.
Asked whether she had any sympathy for the PM, Ms Smith said: “I think it’s a ghastly scenario for anybody to be in.
“When you’re in the full glare of the public, as obviously she was yesterday because of the difficulties over the last few weeks, yes anyone feels sympathy for that.
“But that’s not to take away from the fact that I think there are things she should have been doing that would have helped to avoid this mess.”
Like the Scottish Conservative leader, Ms Smith acknowledged she had supported many aspects of the mini-budget.
However, she said she had assumed it would be costed and published alongside an Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) report – the official forecast of how the UK economy is expected to perform – which it was not.
Public opinion of the Conservatives has dropped since Ms Truss was elected, with a recent poll by Redfield and Wilton Strategies finding Labour leading by 36%.
Tom Lubbock, co founder of polling company JL Partners, told the BBC he “almost couldn’t believe” the findings – which he called a disaster for the Conservatives and an extremely positive picture for Labour.