Truss puts faith in growth plan to quell Tory opposition and save premiership
Written by First Choice Radio on 5 October 2022
Liz Truss will say the “disruption” from her plans to revive the country’s economy will be worth it as she battles to save her premiership after just a month in the job.
The Prime Minister will insist there can be no more “drift and delay” in the effort to boost economic growth in her first Conservative Party conference speech as leader.
She will defend her “new approach” which will “unleash the full potential of our great country”.
But she will face a tough task restoring Tory morale after a conference which has seen a U-turn over a totemic tax policy, Cabinet dissent and the threat of another major split over the level of benefits.
Former Cabinet minister Grant Shapps has warned she has little more than a week to save her leadership, while another member of Boris Johnson’s top team, Nadine Dorries, said she is not calling for an immediate election because “we’d absolutely lose it”.
Ms Dorries had previously suggested Ms Truss should go to the country if she wants a mandate for her tax-cutting, high-borrowing agenda.
James Cleverly insisted Ms Truss will lead the Tory Party into the next election and said Mr Shapps’ comment that she has 10 days to turn things around is “ridiculous”.
Asked how the annual gathering is going, the Foreign Secretary said: “Brilliant, the atmosphere is fantastic.”
But he rebuked Ms Truss’s former leadership rivals, Penny Mordaunt and Suella Braverman, for straining the limits of Cabinet collective responsibility.
Ms Mordaunt joined backbench rebels in calling for welfare payments to be raised in line with inflation, which has been at around 10%, rather than earnings at 5%, while Home Secretary Ms Braverman accused Tory MPs of staging a “coup” against the Prime Minister over the 45p tax rate.
Mr Cleverly told Times Radio: “Ultimately, we are all going to be bound by collective decision-making and collective agreement.
“My view is it’s better and easier, more appropriate, to feed your views and ideas in in the normal way, which is through Cabinet, through Cabinet committees.”
While declining to say whether benefits should rise in line with inflation, Mr Cleverly suggested that uprating them in line with the lower measure of wages will be part of Ms Truss’s growth agenda.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You’ve got to remember that … the Prime Minister said she wants to get earnings up, she wants to get productivity up, she wants to go for growth.”
Ms Truss’s economic agenda is inevitably going to be “a bit unsettling”, the Foreign Secretary said, but denied that she needs to regain authority.
“The Prime Minister made it really clear what her philosophy was when she was running for the leadership. If people weren’t listening properly, I mean that’s more their problem than hers.”
The Prime Minister, who was only elected as Tory leader on September 5, will tell activists in Birmingham that she hopes to create a “new Britain for a new era”, with an unashamedly pro-growth strategy – even though not everyone will be in favour of her methods.
Ms Truss will say: “For too long, our economy has not grown as strongly as it should have done.
“For too long, the political debate has been dominated by how we distribute a limited economic pie. Instead, we need to grow the pie so that everyone gets a bigger slice.
“That is why I am determined to take a new approach and break us out of this high-tax, low-growth cycle. That is what our plan is about: getting our economy growing and rebuilding Britain through reform.”
Elements of Ms Truss’s plan were set out in Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, a statement which led to market turbulence and an eventual U-turn over the plan to scrap the 45p rate of income tax for top earners. But she will double down on her gamble in search of economic growth, arguing that it is the best route out of the current storm.
“The scale of the challenge is immense,” she will say.
“War in Europe for the first time in a generation. A more uncertain world in the aftermath of Covid. And a global economic crisis.
“That is why in Britain we need to do things differently.
“Whenever there is change, there is disruption. Not everyone will be in favour.
“But everyone will benefit from the result – a growing economy and a better future. That is what we have a clear plan to deliver.”
Alongside measures to boost growth, the Prime Minister will insist she will keep an iron grip on the nation’s finances, with a leaner state offering value for taxpayers’ money.
She will say: “This is a great country. But I know that we can do better and we must do better.
“We have huge talent across the country. We’re not making enough of it. To deliver this, we need to get Britain moving. We cannot have any more drift and delay at this vital time.”
The scale of the challenge facing Ms Truss was underlined by former transport secretary Mr Shapps, who was sacked when she took office after he backed Rishi Sunak’s leadership bid.
He told The News Agents podcast “the next 10 days is a critical period of time” but he will be “cheering her on” to turn things around.
He suggested some Tory MPs at risk of losing their seats in a general election might consider replacing her with a new leader.
“The question is for Conservative MPs, if they are in any case thinking ‘Well, I’m going to be out at the next election’, then they might as well roll the dice, as it were, and elect a new leader.”
As well as drawing criticism for her “coup” comments, Ms Braverman was rebuked by senior Government figures after suggesting the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights – something which is not official policy but was an eye-catching pledge she made during the leadership contest.
At a Spectator fringe event, she said her personal view was “ultimately we do need to leave the European Convention on Human Rights” but “Government policy is to do everything we can within the convention, within the boundaries of the convention”.
“But if that doesn’t work, then we will have to consider all options.”
A Government source told the PA news agency: “As Suella acknowledged, her personal views are contrary to Government policy and if she wishes to make those views known within Government she should do so in a more appropriate setting.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub