Liz Truss’s pre-conference interview with Laura Kuenssberg –the key points
Liz Truss took her first lengthy grilling since Laura Kuenssberg’s mini-budget on Sunday. After critics branded a series of mini-interviews with local BBC radio and regional TV presenters earlier in the week a car crash.
In a 20-minute interview on Sunday morning with the BBC’s Kuenssberg. The prime minister appeared calm despite growing Tory rebellion over her chancellor’s mini-budget, which sent markets into a tailspin.
Here are the highlights from her interview at the opening of the Conservative conference in Birmingham:
- A Tax cut protection, but a shred of remorse regarding notification handling
Truss was in full bullish mode, saying he would stand by the mini-budget announced on September 23, which gave bigger tax cuts to the mega-rich.
She seemed unfazed by the backlash from within her own party. And she was saying there had been too much focus in politics on optics. And how things look compared to the impact they have on our economy.
Reiterating that at least 50% of spending was related to helping people with spiraling energy bills. Truss said the government was not living in a perfect world and tried to remind people that without action. So, we would be in trouble serious.
Her only note of regret was about the handling of the announcement itself. She appeared to suggest that more needed to be done to secure the markets ahead of Kwasi Kwartengs statement, saying: I accept that we should have laid the groundwork better, I accept that and I have learned from it and I will make sure that in in the future we do a better job of laying the groundwork.
- A refusal to rule out cuts in public service spending
During the leadership race, Truss said he was not planning cuts to public spending. However, she failed to use such definitive language in the interview with Kuenssberg.
It was a command for government departments to find efficiency savings, fears of a return to years of austerity have grown among Tory supporters.
Truss twice refused to rule out public spending cuts. Although when prompted to suggest they were likely to happen. Truss said no and told people to wait for Kwarteng’s mid-term increase announcement at the end of November.
Allegedly, Kwarteng removed the 45p tax rate.
One of the central criticisms of Tory MPs has been the scrapping of the additional rate of tax on earnings over £150,000, proof, they say, that the mini-budget was about helping the better off.
Truss said the controversial move did not discuss with the cabinet in advance, but the chancellor took this decision.
Another move Truss refused to rule out was raising benefits below inflation. Which would mean a pay cut in real terms for low earners forced to top up their wages with universal credit.