Tories united! Liz Truss finally gets party on her side as protest against PM backfires

To the delight of her supporters Ms Truss pointed out her enemies, the “loony lefties”, “Brexit deniers” and the “anti-growth coalition”, also taking a swipe at Sir Keir Starmer.

“He has no long-term plan and no vision for Britain,” she said of the Labour leader.

And she allied herself to the “heroes” who make Britain work – “the factory workers, the commuters, the white van drivers, the hairdressers, the plumbers, the accountants, the IT workers and millions of others up and down the UK.”

In a highly personal appeal, she said she had “fought” to be where she is – relating how she went to a comprehensive school and was once given a junior hostess badge while her brothers received a junior pilot badge.

Making what seemed to be a thinly-veiled jibe at critics on her own benches, Ms Truss said: “I know how it feels to have your potential diminished by those who think they know better.”

The UK has been through a grim year with a cost-of-living squeeze and energy crisis driving up bills for hard-pressed families.

Although upbeat, the speech was short on genuine substance and almost entirely devoid of new policies.

At times she appeared nervous, cautiously holding a glass of water with two hands as she took a sip.