A senior Tory MP says his party has already lost the next general election and is urging Liz Truss not to wreck the economy before the inevitable defeat.
In extraordinary comments, Charles Walker said the government had a “duty to the country to get the public finances in the best shape possible” before it loses.
As polls put the Conservatives up to 30 points behind Labour after the tax-slashing budget gamble backfired, Sir Charles it is “hard to construct an argument” that his party retain power.
“I suspect the conversation is, you know, ‘how much do we lose it by’?” he told Times Radio.
He urged Ms Truss to hand over a decent “legacy” to Labour, adding: “We’re a Patriotic Party. That’s our first duty, is to the country. Our first duty is not to get re-elected, our first duty is to the country.”
Sir Charles, a former chair of the 1922 backbench committee, admitted the Conservatives had suffered a “cliff edge collapse”, saying: “There’s no way of dressing this up as anything else but being pretty shattering.”
The comments came as the Treasury watchdog announced it will deliver a report on Kwasi Kwarteng’s backfiring budget next week, but the chancellor is refusing to publish it until November.
Another Tory MP, Peter Aldous, warned “time is running out to show the British people that the Conservative Party deserves to retain the honour of serving as their government”.
He stressed the need for “sound money”, adding: “Nothing about the chancellor’s opening weeks at the Treasury have reassured me – nor, more importantly, the markets – in this regard.”
The “dash to rush through fiscal policy measures without an accompanying OBR report” seemed almost “designed to provoke the markets at a time when they were already demonstrably volatile”.
The warnings come after a series of interviews by Liz Truss failed to dampen the market panic over the budget – and increased Tory jitters after she insisted there would be no rethink.
Sir Charles said: “There’s a general election in just over two years and I think it’s hard to construct an argument now that the Conservatives can win that general election.
“I suspect the conversation is, you know, ‘how much do we lose it by’? And what is our duty to the country and our duty to the country is to get the public finances in the best shape possible.”
He criticised ministers, from the prime minister down, who are trying to blame “international events” for the self-inflicted blunders of the tax-slashing budget.
“The lack of humility is what I find most painful. You know, we have really got this wrong on many levels,” Sir Charles said.
“People have lost their mortgage offers,” he said, adding: “We cannot absolve ourselves from responsibility for this as people are right to be really cross and upset.”