Politics latest news: Liz Truss breaks silence on mini-Budget saying she is 'prepared to make controversial decisions'




  • In Business
  • 2022-09-29 08:52:37Z
  • By The Telegraph
Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng are pictured during a visit to Berkeley Modular, in Northfleet, Kent on September 23 - Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng are pictured during a visit to Berkeley Modular, in Northfleet, Kent on September 23 - Dylan Martinez/Reuters  
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Liz Truss has said she is prepared to make "controversial and difficult decisions" as she defended the Government's mini-Budget.

The Prime Minister said the Government "had to take action to get our economy growing" as she commented publicly for the first time since her tax cuts and borrowing plans triggered economic turmoil.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, Ms Truss said: "We had to take decisive action to help people through this winter and next winter. I understand that families are struggling with their fuel bills.

"And we had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving and also deal with inflation.

"And of course, that means taking controversial and difficult decisions but I am prepared to do that as Prime Minister because what is important to me is that we get our economy moving."

Ms Truss later told BBC Radio Kent that she is "very clear the Government has done the right thing by taking action urgently to deal with inflation, to deal with the economic slowdown, and to deal with high energy bills".

​​Follow the latest updates below.

09:52 AM

Lib Dems: 'PM in complete denial'

Daisy Cooper, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, has claimed Liz Truss is in "complete denial" following the Prime Minister's morning media round.

She said: "Liz Truss is in complete denial about the damage caused by her reckless and out of touch budget.

"She failed to offer any reassurance to people who are worried sick about the impact on their mortgages, pensions and bills. Instead the Prime Minister is digging in with this totally disastrous approach that only benefits the very wealthiest while the vast majority suffer."

09:47 AM

Three main takeaways from the PM's media round

  1. The mini-Budget stays: The Government has no intention of backtracking on its mini-Budget. Liz Truss was clear that she believes it was the right thing to do and as such the measures will not be watered down.

  2. Problems are 'global': Liz Truss is adamant that economic chaos is a "global" problem and not just something confined to the UK. Essentially, she rejected the idea that the mini-Budget was in any way responsible for the domestic instability seen in recent days.

  3. 45p tax rate stumbling block: The Prime Minister was perhaps on the most difficult terrain this morning when she was asked to defend the decision to scrap the 45p income tax rate. She argued that tax cuts across the board will help everyone but there was a noticeable lack of explicit backing for that specific move.

09:38 AM

PM challenged over 'global' problems claim

BBC Radio Bristol presenter James Hanson challenged Liz Truss over her repeated claim that financial markets around the world have been facing turmoil.

He told the Prime Minister: "This isn't just about Putin. Your Chancellor on Friday opened up the stable door and spooked the horses so much you could almost see the economy being dragged behind them."

Ms Truss replied: "This is about Putin and the war in Ukraine. That is why we are facing such high energy prices."

Mr Hanson said: "So the Bank of England's intervention yesterday was the fault of Vladimir Putin, was it?"

The Prime Minister said: "What I am saying is it is very difficult and stormy times in the international markets and of course the Bank of England is independent, it takes the action it needs to take and it is responsible for interest rates and it is responsible for financial stability.

"But it is right that the Government took action to deal with people's fuel bills…"

08:54 AM

'It is not fair to have a recession'

Liz Truss was asked about the "fairness" of the mini-Budget, specifically about the decision to axe the 45p top rate of income tax.

She told BBC Radio Nottingham: "It is not fair to have a recession. It is not fair to have a town where you are not getting the investment. It is not fair if we don't get high paying jobs in the future because we have the highest tax burden in 70 years.

"That is what is not fair."

08:51 AM

'Lower taxes across the board help everybody'

Liz Truss has defended the decision to scrap the 45p top rate of income tax as she argued that lower taxes "help everybody".

She told BBC Radio Nottingham: "Having lower taxes across the board... helps everybody because it helps grow the economy.

"For too long the debate in this country has been about distribution rather than how we grow our economy."

08:48 AM

Liz Truss denies mini-Budget is 'reverse Robin Hood'

Liz Truss has denied that her decision to scrap the 45p top rate of income tax amounts to a "reverse Robin Hood".

Speaking to BBC Radio Nottingham, the Prime Minister said: "That simply isn't true... the entirety of what you just said. The biggest part of the package that we announced is the support on energy bills."

Told that people are worried about keeping their homes because of rising interest rates, Ms Truss said : "It is an important principle that interest rates are set by the independent Bank of England and that has been the case since 1997.

"What we are seeing around the world is we are seeing great pressure on the international markets. Because of Putin's war in Ukraine, it has pushed up energy prices, it has created inflation and it has created an economic slowdown."

08:43 AM

'This is why we took action'

Liz Truss was asked during an interview with BBC Radio Nottingham why she does not hold her hands up and say "we got it wrong" over the mini-Budget.

The Prime Minister said: "We have got to look at the situation this country would be facing if the Government had not acted.

"People were facing fuel bills of up to £6,000 this winter and people and families were worried about that. We were facing very, very high inflation and also a slowing economy and this is why we took action."

Ms Truss was told that the mini-Budget had "made things worse" but she rejected the claim as she said the Government's plans will curb inflation by "up to five per cent" this winter while also boosting growth.

She also repeated that there economic "problems around the world".

08:36 AM

'This is a global problem'

Liz Truss has rejected the suggestion that the mini-Budget had made a time of crisis "worse".

Asked if she intended to reverse any of her tax measures, the Prime Minister told BBC Radio Kent: "I don't accept the premise of the question. The action we have taken has been helping people with their fuel bills... it has been helping people with their tax bills, people are going to pay less National Insurance.

"But we are facing difficult economic times. I don't deny this. This is a global problem. But what is absolutely right is the UK Government has stepped in and acted at this difficult time."

08:31 AM

'The Government has done the right thing'

Liz Truss said that "we have seen difficult markets around the world because of the very difficult international situation we face".

She said the Government has taken "decisive action" on energy bills and it would have been "unconscionable" not to take action on those bills.

Told that the Government's mini-Budget had "undermined" the stability of the UK economy, Ms Truss told BBC Radio Kent: "As I say, we are working very closely with the Bank of England. We face a difficult international situation. I am very clear the Government has done the right thing by taking action urgently to deal with inflation, to deal with the economic slowdown, and to deal with high energy bills.

"Of course, that involves taking difficult decisions and as Prime Minister I am prepared to take difficult decisions and do the right thing."

08:26 AM

'We have taken action'

Liz Truss was confronted with numerous listener questions during an interview with BBC Radio Kent. The Prime Minister was asked "what were you thinking" and "how can we ever trust the Tories again".

Asked if she was "ashamed" over her mini-Budget, Ms Truss said: "I think we have to remember what situation this country was facing. We were going into the winter with people expected  to face fuel bills of up to £6,000, huge rates of inflation but also slowing economic growth.

"What we have done is we have taken action to make sure that from this weekend people won't be paying a typical fuel bill of more than £2,500, not just this year but also next year."

Told that the Government's plans may have made inflation worse, Ms Truss countered: "This will curb inflation by up to five per cent."

08:20 AM

PM insists 'difficult economic times' are 'global'

Liz Truss has said the world is facing "very, very difficult economic times" as she also insisted Kwasi Kwarteng is working "very, very closely" with the Bank of England.

She told BBC Radio Leeds: "We are working very, very closely with the Bank of England and it is important that we have an independent Bank of England, they are responsible for setting interest rates. Of course the Chancellor and the Bank of England work closely together.

"We are facing very, very difficult economic times. We are facing that on a global level."

08:17 AM

'It has made sure that people and businesses will be paying lower taxes'

Liz Truss was asked for her assessment of how her mini-Budget has landed.

The Prime Minister told BBC Radio Leeds: "What it has done is it has made sure that people and businesses will be paying lower taxes. It has opened up new road projects, new infrastructure projects, which will mean that we can get on with doing the things that will help people, whether it is getting to work, setting up their own business and growing the economy.

"What it has done is made sure that businesses and people are protected from these very high fuel bills this winter."

08:05 AM

Liz Truss defends mini-Budget plans

Liz Truss has defended her mini-Budget plans as she said as Prime Minister she is prepared to take "controversial and difficult decisions".

Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, Ms Truss said that "we had to take urgent action to get our economy growing" and "of course that means taking controversial and difficult decisions".

"I am prepared to do that as Prime Minister," she said.

07:59 AM

Minister dismisses calls for Chancellor to quit

Chris Philp, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has dismissed suggestions that Kwasi Kwarteng should resign as Chancellor over his handling of the mini-Budget.

He told Sky News: "I don't think he should. The Chancellor has set out very clearly a vision for growth, to get our economy growing. That is what we need."

07:56 AM

'I am certainly not going to apologise'

Chris Philp, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has refused to apologise for the financial turmoil caused by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-Budget.

After the Bank of England was forced to step in to calm the markets, Mr Philp told Sky News: "No one's perfect but I'm not going to apologise for having a plan to grow the economy.

"I am certainly not going to apologise for having an energy intervention which is protecting every single household in this country. I'm not going to get into this post-facto raking over."

07:55 AM

'We have what can only be described as a crisis'

A former Tory Treasury minister has said the Government has caused a "crisis" but "the pain is still to come".

David Gauke told the BBC: "Now we have what can only be described as a crisis, and it is directly as a consequence of decisions made by the Conservative Government."

"The pain is still to come, in truth. The pain of higher interest rates, of tougher decisions on public spending is yet to be felt," added the 50-year-old, who was the Conservative MP for South West Hertfordshire from 2005 to 2019.

07:52 AM

Minister admits cutting top rate of income tax only benefits wealthy

Chris Philp, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has defended the Government's decision to scrap the 45p top rate of income tax.

Asked why it was necessary to make the move now, he told Sky News: "The top rate of now 40 per cent, reducing from 45, makes us internationally competitive, it puts us on a par with a number of other economies."

Told that the 45p decision only benefits the wealthy, he conceded that is the case: "Well, that is true, it benefits people who earn more than £150,000 but very often those are people who are internationally mobile, they can choose where to locate.

"I talk to people who have got a choice about whether they work and live in London or Edinburgh or Birmingham or whether they go and live in Singapore or New York or somewhere. We want those people to locate here in the UK.

"One other point, in terms of the size of that measure, it amounted to less than 1/20th, less than five per cent of the total fiscal measures. It was a very small part of the package."

07:42 AM

Government must make statement 'in next two or three days'

The Treasury has said Kwasi Kwarteng will deliver a follow up statement to the mini-Budget in November in which he will set out the Government's medium-term economic plans.

But the Chancellor is under mounting pressure to deliver a statement to reassure the markets and the nation much sooner than that.

Lord Clarke, the Tory former chancellor, said a statement should be made within days.

He told Times Radio: "Ideally, that statement should come in the next two or three days. But we don't want them rushing into something else more stupid.

"We can't have both the government and the Bank saying that they're not able to do anything more till November, that would be very, very worrying indeed."

07:40 AM

Government could be forced to 'retract' mini-Budget measures

The Government will have no choice but to "retract" some of its mini-Budget measures if the pound falls any further, Lord Clarke has said.

The Tory former chancellor told Times Radio: "If the pound sinks any further, then they will have to perhaps retract some of the measures because the more the pound goes down, the more inflation goes up."

07:38 AM

Lord Clarke: No other Tory government would have made mini-Budget 'mistake'

Lord Clarke, the Tory former chancellor, has argued this morning that no other Conservative government would have made a "mistake" like Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-Budget.

He told Times Radio: "I still hope in two years' time, they might look like a normal, competent, Conservative government because no Conservative government in my lifetime would ever have made a mistake of this kind.

"Fiscal discipline or good housekeeping, as Margaret always used to say, was one of the very strong cards that the government had because it was regarded as good at running the economy by the public."

07:36 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today's politics live blog.

It is a big day in Westminster as Liz Truss is expected to face public questioning for the first time since the new Government unveiled its mini-Budget last week.

The Prime Minister is due to undertake a tour of regional BBC radio stations this morning when she will be grilled on her tax cuts and spending plans after they sparked economic turmoil.

I will guide you through the key developments.

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