Rachel Reeves has called on Liz Truss to “immediately reverse her government’s kamikaze Budget” as the Prime Minister used her Conservative Party conference speech to condemn what she described as an “anti-growth coalition”.
Truss addressed the Tory Party conference as leader for the first time this morning, having won the Conservative leadership election and assumed the premiership after beating rival Rishi Sunak last month.
“I will not allow the anti-growth coalition to hold us back: Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP, the militant unions, the vested interests dressed up as think-tanks, the talking heads, the Brexit deniers and Extinction Rebellion and some of the people we had in the hall earlier,” Truss told Tory members today.
Environmental activists disrupted the speech, denouncing the Prime Minister’s “shredding” of her party’s election manifesto promises on protection for nature. Greenpeace UK’s Rebecca Newsom and Ami McCarthy stood up during the speech with a banner asking: “Who voted for this?”
“We see the anti-growth coalition at work across the country. Keir Starmer wants to put extra taxes on the companies we need to invest in our energy security. And his sticking plaster solution will only last six months. He has no long-term plan and no vision for Britain,” the Prime Minister claimed.
Commenting following the speech, the Shadow Chancellor said the current economic turmoil, seen following the ‘mini-Budget’ delivered by Kwasi Kwarteng late last month, was “made in Downing Street” and is being “paid for by working people facing higher mortgages and soaring costs”.
Truss argued today: “The anti-growth coalition think the people who stick themselves to trains, roads and buildings are heroes. I say the real heroes are those who go to work, take responsibility and aspire to a better life for themselves and their family. And I am on their side.
“We will build roads, rail, energy and broadband quicker. We will be proudly pro-growth, pro-aspiration and pro-enterprise. That is how we will forge ahead on our long-term path to national success.”
She told her conference that the government is “focused on boosting growth and opportunity across our country”, insisting that the Tories “must stay the course” as the “only party with a clear plan to get Britain moving”.
Reeves highlighted that Truss has been a government minister for the past ten years, adding that the new Prime Minister “has been at the heart of building a Conservative economy that has led to the flat wages and low growth”.
“Labour knows real growth comes from the contribution of millions of working people and thousands of businesses. The most important thing the Prime Minister can do right now to stabilise the economy is to immediately reverse her government’s kamikaze Budget when parliament returns next week,” she said.
The impact of the mini-Budget delivered by the Chancellor initially led to a record-breaking slump in the value of the pound, as traders expected a sharper increase in interest rates by the Bank of England than previously anticipated.
The fiscal statement included scrapping the planned rise in corporation tax, removing the cap on bankers’ bonuses and the abolition of the 45% rate of income tax on earnings over £150,000. Following widespread criticism, Kwarteng announced that he would be abandoning the proposal on the 45p rate of income tax.
The Chancellor claimed the policy had become a “distraction from our overriding mission to tackle the challenges facing our country” and told people that “we get it” and “we have listened”.
Analysis by the Resolution Foundation reported that the richest households will still gain around 40 times as much as the poorest from the mini-Budget next year despite the U-turn.