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Rishi Sunak takes daughter to London premiere of Matilda the Musical after avoiding Tory conference

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 05/10/2022 Laurence Dollimore For Mailonline

Rishi Sunak was all smiles today as he took his daughter to the London premier of Matilda the Musical while avoiding the fractious Conservative Party conference - allowing new prime minister Liz Truss to 'own the moment' following her recent mini-budget shambles. 

The former chancellor gave a thumbs up to photographers as he cut a casual figure at the BFI London Film Festival in Southbank, donning a relaxed dinner jacket, grey chinos and black trainers as he held hands with his beaming daughter Anoushka. 

The ex-banker, 42, was a world away from Ms Truss's troubles as he shared the red carpet with the likes of Dame Emma Thompson, comedian Tim Minchin and actor Stephen Graham at the Royal Festival Hall. 

Mr Sunak chose to take his daughter Anoushka, who he shares with his billionaire heiress wife Akshata Murthy, 42. Together the couple were estimated to be worth more than £720m by this year's Sunday Times Rich List, bolstered by Ms Murthy's £600m worth of shares in her father's Bangalore-based IT firm Infosys. 

Today's Matilda premiere was just a 20-minute drive from the family's £7million mansion in Kensington Mews - one of four homes that make up their impressive property portfolio, including a nearby Kensington flat worth £1million and a £2million mansion in Rishi's Yorkshire constituency, where he is nicknamed the 'Maharaja of the Dales'. 

The family also have a £5.5million penthouse in California, overlooking Santa Monica pier, which they use in the holidays. 

Mr Sunak's red carpet appearance today came after allies of the MP for Richmond said he would not be attending the Tory party conference at the ICC in Birmingham, which came to an end on Wednesday following a make-or-break speech by Ms Truss. 

One told The Times ahead last week that he would be in 'Yorkshire instead', to 'give Truss all the space she needs to own the moment.' 

Rishi Sunak was all smiles today as he took his daughter to the London premier of Matilda the Musical while avoiding the fractious Conservative Party conference

Rishi Sunak was all smiles today as he took his daughter to the London premier of Matilda the Musical while avoiding the fractious Conservative Party conference
© Provided by Daily Mail

The pointed remark came amid a brewing Tory civil war sparked by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's disastrous mini-budget, which promised £45billion in tax cuts and sent the pound plummeting against the dollar. 

The Bank of England (BoE) was forced to step in and purchase up to £65billion in government debt in a bid to shore up confidence and prevent pension funds collapsing. 

But the announcement, which was made without an OBR forecast, had spooked the markets and led mortgage providers to pull 1,000 deals amid fears interest rates could reach as high as 6 per cent by the middle of next year. 

Following furore and open criticism from the likes of Michael Gove and Grant Shapps, Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng were forced into a humiliating U-turn, ditching plans to abolish the 45p top rate of tax. 

It followed warnings by Mr Sunak during the leadership race that Ms Truss's plans for the economy would force 'millions into misery' and lead to a crushing Labour victory at the next general election. 

A series of polls this week gave the opposition leads of up to 38 points, suggesting Sir Keir Starmer's party would win by huge margins if an election were held tomorrow.

It came amid rumours that about 70 Tory MPs were scheming to topple the new leader over fears she is ruining the economy and the party's reputation.

Mr Sunak's supporters were also plotting to install the former Chancellor in No10 as part of a 'coronation' if Ms Truss 's Government falls in the wake of the mini-Budget, The Mail on Sunday reported. 

Tory plotters were reportedly suggesting the leadership rules should be ripped up to give MPs the sole right to pick a successor to Ms Truss without the long campaign to court party members that led to Ms Truss succeeding Boris Johnson last month. 

In addition to Mr Sunak, supporters of Boris Johnson have reportedly been talking about voting down the bill containing the budget measures to bring down the Government, allowing Mr Johnson to become a 'caretaker' prime minister. But allies of Mr Johnson insisted it is 'too soon' for him to return.

Michael Gove, who spoke at nine events at the conference, is also suspected of plotting one last tilt at the leadership, something which his friends angrily dismissed.

It comes after one of Mr Sunak's supporters insisted at the weekend that Ms Truss was 'finished' and said the party should repeat the 2003 leadership election, when Michael Howard was given the top job unopposed.

The senior Tory told The Mail on Sunday: 'Rishi is the only answer. You go for a coronation.'

Mr Sunak's supporters were this week plotting to install the former Chancellor in No10 as part of a 'coronation' if Ms Truss 's Government falls in the wake of the mini-Budget, The Mail on Sunday reported (Pictured: Mr Sunak with his daughter Anoushka at the Matilda the Musical premiere in London on Wednesday) 

Mr Sunak's supporters were this week plotting to install the former Chancellor in No10 as part of a 'coronation' if Ms Truss 's Government falls in the wake of the mini-Budget, The Mail on Sunday reported (Pictured: Mr Sunak with his daughter Anoushka at the Matilda the Musical premiere in London on Wednesday) 
© Provided by Daily Mail

The call came as Red Wall MPs elected just three years ago voiced fears that Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-Budget would cost them their seats in the wake of one poll that gave Labour a huge 33-point lead.

One said: 'We have worked so hard to do better with lower income voters, but the optics of these tax cuts for the wealthy are so bad.'

The MP added: 'Even people who backed Liz in the leadership contest think she's had it. Most of the conversations are: How do we get rid of her?'

Even one former Minister in favour of tax cuts bemoaned the way the mini-Budget was done, saying it had imperilled the party's hallowed reputation for financial competence.

PM now 'less popular than Boris or Jeremy Corbyn' 

Liz Truss suffered another body blow today as a poll found her popularity has plunged below the record lows for Boris Johnson and even Jeremy Corbyn.

YouGov research found the PM has a net rating of minus 59 - even worse than the -53 for Mr Johnson before his resignation.

Her score was also under the -55 the firm found for the hard-Left former Labour leader in June 2019, months before his party suffered its worst election defeat in a generation.

Just 14 per cent now have a favourable impression of Ms Truss, according to the YouGov survey conducted over the weekend before the 45p tax-rate U-turn. That is compared to 26 per cent in mid-September. 

It is the latest grim sign for Ms Truss after other polls recently put Labour on track for a landslide at the next election - albeit potentially two years away - with the Tories up to 33 points behind. A Redfield & Wilton survey yesterday suggested they trail by 38 points in the Red Wall. 

It came before Ms Truss appeared to buy herself some time with her speech on the final day of conference on Wednesday.  

In her 40-minute speech today, Ms Truss said doing away with plans to cut the 45p top rate of tax was vital after the proposal became a 'distraction' from the government's wider agenda. 

In an apparent attempt to cool nerves on markets over borrowing to fund tax cuts, she said she believed in 'sound money'.  'I get it. And I have listened,' she said. 

But Ms Truss stressed that did not mean she was ditching her commitment to lower taxes. 

'I believe in getting value for the taxpayer. I believe in sound money and a lean state. I remember my shock opening my first paycheck to see how much money the tax man had taken out,' she said.

'I know this feeling is replicated across the country.'

Pointing to her energy bills bailout and tax cuts since entering No10, Ms Truss insisted that she was ready to help struggling families: 'I refused to consign our great country to decline.' 

She said she had three priorities for the economy - 'growth growth and growth'. 'Growth means more money in people's pockets,' she said. 

Making what seemed to be an oblique jibe at critics on her own benches, Ms Truss said: 'I know how it feels to have your potential dismissed by those who think they know better.' 

The speech was reportedly well-received in the hall. One supportive senior MP told MailOnline the important thing was she had 'got through it' and not seemed too wooden - although they conceded that was a 'low bar'. 

'There is no doubt she has bought herself a bit of space,' the former minister said, cautioning that major battles are still to come with rebels in Westminster. 

'The important thing was to get the thing out of the way and go back to knock some heads together.'

A former Cabinet minister was less optimistic, branding Ms Truss 'deluded' and 'incompetent'. 'I have never seen the Tory party in such a desperate state. It reminds me of the dying days of John Mayor. 

'She is going to have to go. It's just a question of time. The Red Wall MPs have got a taste of rebellion. If they see that Liz Truss can't retain their seats they will kick her out... it becomes a chain reaction.

'I think she is going to cave on benefits. She's digging in on something that she is going to have to back down on.'  

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