Defiant Truss Says 'Disruption' Is The Price To Pay To Revive Economy

Prime minister to use first conference speech as leader to frame recent chaos as part of a “new approach” that will “unleash the full potential of our great country”.
“Whenever there is change, there is disruption. Not everyone will be in favour."
“Whenever there is change, there is disruption. Not everyone will be in favour."

Liz Truss will be unapologetic about the “disruption” that comes with her plans to revive the British economy as she makes her keynote conference speech against the backdrop of Tory civil war.

With senior Conservatives saying she has 10 days to save her job, the prime minister will insist there can be no more “drift and delay” in the effort to boost economic growth.

In her first Tory conference speech as leader, Truss will defend her “new approach” which will “unleash the full potential of our great country”.

The prime minister, who was only elected as Tory leader on September 5, will tell activists in Birmingham 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.

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.”

But the prime minister 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 was not calling for an immediate election because “we’d absolutely lose it”.

Dorries had previously suggested Truss should go to the country if she wanted a mandate for her tax-cutting, high-borrowing agenda.

Elements of Truss’ plan were set out in 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 Truss was underlined by former transport secretary 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 would 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.”

Truss’ former leadership rivals Penny Mordaunt and Suella Braverman strained the limits of Cabinet collective responsibility.

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%.

Home secretary 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.


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