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Liz Truss says she is prepared to be unpopular as she sets out policies to deliver growth – UK politics live | Politics


Truss says she is prepared to be unpopular as she sets out policies to deliver growth

Sky News is broadcasting an interview with Liz Truss by Beth Rigby, the Sky political editor.

Q: Why is it fair for people to take the pain of higher energy bills when energy companies are making such big profits?

Truss says the plan to deal with energy bills will cost the government money. The government also has a plan to guaranteed long-term energy supply, she says.

She says she would not allow the burden to fall on people and businesses.

Q: But you would rather the taxpayer foots the bill than business?

Truss says on Friday the chancellor will explain how this will be paid for.

The energy plan is likely to reduce inflation by five percentage points, and encourage growth, she says.

Q: Labour’s policy, a windfall tax, is backed by 68% of the public. You are prepared to be unpopular, aren’t you.

Truss replies: “Yes, I am.”

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Truss rejects claims her economic policies will prompt Bank of England to raise interest rates

Liz Truss has also recorded an interview with the BBC’s political editor, Chris Mason. As she did in her Sky News interview, she insisted that she was willing to take unpopular decisions in her quest to promote growth. (Sky’s Beth Rigby was asking about Truss’s decision not to implement a new windfall tax on energy companies – a plan backed by two-thirds of voters; Mason was asking Truss about her proposal to lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses.)

Here are some other lines from the BBC interview.

  • Truss said she did not accept that her economic policies, which include substantial tax cuts, would encourage the Bank of England to raise interest rates. Most economists believes that cutting tax on the scale planned will be inflationary, leading the Bank to raise interest rates by more than otherwise planned. But Truss said she did not accept this. When Mason put it to her that her plans would result in people paying more for their mortgages, Truss replied:

I don’t accept that analysis. And in fact, the energy package that we announced and the business secretary will be saying more about that this week, is projected to lead to a lowering of inflation by up to five percentage points, because a lot of the cost of inflation has been driven by higher energy prices, primarily caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine. So the intervention the UK government is undertaking will help reduce inflation and also boost economic growth.

  • She refused to accept that the recent fall in the value of the pound was a cause of concern. Asked if she was worried about it, she replied: “My belief is that Britain’s economic fundamentals are strong. We have relatively low debt compared to the rest of the G7. We have strong employment.”

Liz Truss giving an interview at the Empire State Building in New York today.
Liz Truss giving an interview at the Empire State Building in New York today. Photograph: Toby Melville/PA

Q: What is your message to people worried about interest rates going up, and about a tough winter?

Truss says her government will be taking every step and straining ever sinew to get the economy going.

We will get through this, she says.

And that’s the end of the interview.

Truss says the UK has had low growth because it has had relatively low capital investment.

Yet the UK has one of the best financial centres in the world, she says.

She says she wants to see that money “put to good use across the country”.

Q: But people care about fairness too, don’t they?

Truss says that is an argument of the left. She says, by keeping taxes down, she will grow the economy. And that will lead to tax revenues going up.

Truss says she does not accept the claim that tax cuts will not help people generally.

People care about things like seeing roads built, or getting better mobile phone coverage, she says.

Truss says she is prepared to be unpopular as she sets out policies to deliver growth

Sky News is broadcasting an interview with Liz Truss by Beth Rigby, the Sky political editor.

Q: Why is it fair for people to take the pain of higher energy bills when energy companies are making such big profits?

Truss says the plan to deal with energy bills will cost the government money. The government also has a plan to guaranteed long-term energy supply, she says.

She says she would not allow the burden to fall on people and businesses.

Q: But you would rather the taxpayer foots the bill than business?

Truss says on Friday the chancellor will explain how this will be paid for.

The energy plan is likely to reduce inflation by five percentage points, and encourage growth, she says.

Q: Labour’s policy, a windfall tax, is backed by 68% of the public. You are prepared to be unpopular, aren’t you.

Truss replies: “Yes, I am.”

Biden says he’s ‘sick and tired of trickle-down economics’ ahead of meeting with Truss

Liz Truss is due to have her first proper meeting with Joe Biden, the US president, tomorrow. It is not obvious what prompted him to post this on Twitter about half an hour ago, but it suggests that his bilateral with Truss tomorrow won’t be a meeting of minds.

Liz Truss is more committed to trickle-down economics than any other British prime minister taking office at least since Margaret Thatcher in 1979 (and even Thatcher was in power for nine years before she finally got round to slashing the top rate of income tax to 40%). Biden says he is “sick and tired” of this approach because it never works.

I am sick and tired of trickle-down economics. It has never worked.

We’re building an economy from the bottom up and middle out.

— President Biden (@POTUS) September 20, 2022

Drakeford says he is still waiting for first proper chat with new prime minister

Steven Morris

Steven Morris

The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, has revealed that he has not yet had a chance to have a proper introductory conversation with the new prime minister, Liz Truss.

He said he hoped there would be “mutual respect” between the UK and Welsh governments but added:

There has been no opportunity as yet to test the appetite of the new prime minister for such an approach. On the day he was appointed Boris Johnson telephoned me and the first minister of Scotland.

He said the same thing happened when Theresa May and David Cameron became UK PM.

But, speaking at first minister’s questions in the Welsh Senedd, Drakeford added:

I understand that the new prime minister has not had the first week she would have expected. And now the prime minister has left the country. I hope it will not be long delayed before she does find an opportunity to speak with the elected leaders of other parliaments in the United Kingdom.

Mark Drakeford.
Mark Drakeford. Photograph: Matthew Horwood/The Welsh Parliament/PA

Ed Balls, the all-powerful adviser to Gordon Brown when Brown was chancellor, and subsequently shadow chancellor when Ed Miliband was Labour leader, is having an “I told you so” moment on the subject of the proposed UK-US trade deal. (See 9.44am.)

Here is an extract from the conclusion to the report, written in 2018.

Despite the enthusiasm expressed by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, officials directly involved, and experts with experience of such negotiations, express scepticism that a deal of any significance can be achieved …

The conclusion is clear: a USUK FTA is only going to happen if the UK makes concessions that are unlikely to be politically acceptable and in any case, promises relatively limited upside for UK business. However, the importance of such a deal to the overall Brexit narrative (and specifically, to the case for leaving the customs union) means that the government is likely to continue to behave as if negotiating an attractive deal with the US remains a realistic possibility.

Commons Treasury committee says it’s ‘vital’ to get new OBR economic forecast alongside ’emergency budget’ on Friday

On Friday Kwasi Kwarteng, the new chancellor, will announce a series of tax cuts expected to be worth at least £30bn. As a tax package, it will be far, far bigger than anything in any recent budget, but the Treasury insists that it is a “fiscal event”, not a proper budget.

The official explanation for that is that Kwarteng is acting quickly to implement the promises that Liz Truss made in the Tory leadership contest and that a full budget would take longer, because it would have to include a myriad of other decisions (like duty on cigarettes etc).

But a full budget would also require the publication of a new economic forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility, and there are suspicions that Kwarteng is avoiding a budget this week because he does not want the OBR publishing figures that undermine his policy announcements. Over the summer the Liz Truss leadership campaign briefed journalists that her “emergency budget” would not be accompanied by a new OBR forecast, and Kwarteng has said nothing to suggest that Truss has changed her mind, or that OBR figures will be published on Friday.

The OBR has told the Commons Treasury committee in a letter that it could, if necessary, produce a forecast this week, even thought it normally gets more preparation time.

Today Mel Stride, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons Treasury committee, has released the text of an open letter to Kwarteng saying that he should publish an OBR forecast on Friday. Stride said:

As a committee, we have in the past reported to the house that we consider it very important that significant changes to taxation are announced in a fiscal event alongside an OBR forecast. These forecasts are a vital indicator of the health of the nation’s finances, and provide reassurance and confidence to international markets and investors.

There has been a deterioration in our economic outlook since the last OBR forecast in March. There have been significant fiscal interventions since then and we are told there will be further significant interventions including major permanent tax cuts to be announced on Friday. Under these circumstances, it is vital that an independent OBR forecast is provided.

Like all select committees, the Treasury committee has a government majority.

My colleague Heather Stewart says not publishing a new OBR forecast on Friday would be staggering, and a betrayal of what the former Tory chancellor George Osborne intended when he created the OBR in the first place.

So they should – can’t help finding it *mind-blowing* the new chancellor is preparing to spray £100bn+ at the energy markets and overhaul the tax system, without any independent estimate of the impact on the economy/public finances. https://t.co/9Y1UR0l9ju

— Heather Stewart (@GuardianHeather) September 20, 2022

Here’s George Osborne, on the creation of the OBR in 2010: “I recognise that this will create a rod for my back down the line, and for the backs of future chancellors.
That is the whole point.”
[from this speech] https://t.co/xockGMWAJu

— Heather Stewart (@GuardianHeather) September 20, 2022

Scottish government accused of failing to address A&E waiting times ‘crisis’

Severin Carrell

Severin Carrell

Opposition leaders at Holyrood have called for urgent action after Scotland recorded its worst-ever waiting times for accident and emergency, with fewer than 64% of patients seen within four hours last week.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives said the data from Public Health Scotland showed hospitals were being “overwhelmed”, and accused Humza Yousaf, the health secretary, of failing to act.

The data showed nearly 10,000 people waited for more than four hours before being seen last week, 3,400 for at least eight hours, and 1,257 for more than 12 hours. NHS Forth Valley, which covers Falkirk and Stirling, had a four-hour rate of 38.3%; NHS Lanarkshire, which covers towns such as East Kilbride and Hamilton, 51.9%, and NHS Fife 56.2%.

NHS Lanarkshire has a warning to patients on its website which reads: “Our services are under EXTREME PRESSURE”, and urges people with non-critical injuries to call an NHS advice line first.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, said:

Today’s harrowing statistics are proof positive of this SNP government’s life-threatening inaction.

[While] frontline NHS staff work tirelessly around the clock, Humza Yousaf has completely failed to make any meaningful attempt to address the underlying problems or control this crisis. If we are to avoid a full-blown humanitarian crisis this winter then the government must act now.

Yousaf said hospitals across the UK were struggling to cope, but said the NHS had been given £50m extra to improve emergency care. He added:

Notwithstanding this, I am clear that the current level of performance is not acceptable, that is why I am determined to improve performance and am working closely with boards on a number of measures to reduce pressure on hospitals.

The first biography of Liz Truss will be out in time for Christmas, according to one of its authors, James Heale, diary editor of the Spectator. He is working on the book with Harry Cole, political editor of the Sun.

Lord Ashcroft, the former Tory deputy chairman, is also writing a Truss biography. His will be out later, because he wants it to cover her first year in office.

‘Not every measure will be popular’ – Truss admits voters may not like all her pro-growth measures

Liz Truss has said that she is willing to implement unpopular policies in her quest to boost growth in the UK.

Speaking to reporters on her flight to New York, she seemed to defend the much-criticised proposal to lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses by saying: “Not every measure will be popular.”

She also indicated that as prime minister she would be willing to argue explicitly that “growing the size of the pie” (ie, growing the economy) matters more than ensuring it is fairly distributed. This is a view shared by many Conservatives, but most of Truss’s recent predecessors as party leader would not have said so as bluntly as Truss is prepared to do (for example, in her interview with Laura Kuenssberg two weeks ago).

My colleague Pippa Crerar has a full write-up of what Truss said to reporters last night about her desire to promote growth through tax cuts here.

Higher energy bills a price worth paying for UK security, says Truss

Higher energy bills are a price worth paying to guarantee the UK’s security from foreign aggressors, but the cost should not be passed on to householders, Liz Truss has said. My colleague Pippa Crerar has the story here.

At the Downing Street lobby briefing the No 10 spokesperson said that, as well having a bilateral meeting later today with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, Liz Truss will also have one with the Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida.

Truss also has a meeting with Gitanas Nausėda, the president of Lithuania.

And she will be visiting the Ukrainian Institute of America, where she will meet Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady, as well as the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, and prime minister, Denys Shmyhal. At the institute Truss will view an exhibition on Russian war crimes.

James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, is also in New York for the UN general assembly (UNGA). Today he will have his first meeting in his new post with his US counterpart, Antony Blinken

And while we’re on about people “overegging” things (see 11.37am), my colleague Jennifer Rankin, the Guardian’s Brussels correspondent, says the Labour party is wrong to present the government’s failure to get a trade deal with the US as a grievous blow to the economy (see 9.40am).

I understand the politics behind Labour’s line on stalled US-UK trade deal “terrible news for the economy”. But the economic benefits were going to be negligible (0.2%) and would almost certainly carry a cost for British farmers. https://t.co/bAXXaqhVL0

— Jennifer Rankin (@JenniferMerode) September 20, 2022

Severin Carrell

Severin Carrell

Rosalind McCall has become the first new member of the Scottish parliament to swear allegiance to King Charles III, after she took her seat at Holyrood on Tuesday morning.

McCall, known as Roz, has taken one of the Scottish Conservatives’ list seats for Mid Scotland and Fife after Dean Lockhart, a former lawyer and convener of Holyrood’s net zero, energy and transport committee, quit parliament to take up a job at a net zero company.

A former Tory councillor in Perth & Kinross, she had been due to take her seat earlier this month but that was delayed by the Queen’s death at Balmoral. Instead, McCall’s swearing-in became the first bit of business when Holyrood resumed on Tuesday.




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