Liz Truss Says The Tories Are The Party Of "Sound Public Finances"
Liz Truss has claimed the Tories are the party of "sound public finances" as she sets out her plans to balance the books.
Writing in The House magazine, Truss pledged to unveil a series of supply side reforms "in the next few weeks and beyond," including changes to the planning system, business regulations, childcare, immigration, agricultural productivity, and digital infrastructure.
She made the intervention shortly before what is set to be a fraught Tory conference, with deeply concerning poll ratings, huge uncertainty in the financial markets in the wake of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-Budget, and furious Tory rebels already working to derail her fiscal plans.
Truss, however, defended her position, saying she "would not apologise" for focussing on growth, writing: "This is Conservatism in action: taking a pro-growth, pro-consumer and pro-business approach to unleash our country’s potential."
She continued: "I am determined to reform our economy to get Britain moving.
"For too long, politicians have been caught up in a fight over how to slice up the economic pie in different ways. Instead, we have shown our readiness to do things differently by focusing on growing the pie."
The pound plummeted this week and there was a fall in the value of government-issued debt bonds after Kwarteng announced a series of tax cuts, following an expensive package to freeze energy prices, with little detail as to how the government would pay for them. The Bank of England was forced forced to step in on Wednesday and purchase £65bn in government debt.
In the wake of this, both Truss and Kwarteng have come in for criticism from their own backbenchers. One, Peter Aldhous, wrote in The House: "As a Conservative I am... acutely conscious of budgetary constraints, and the need for sound money. Nothing about the Chancellor’s opening weeks at the Treasury have reassured me – nor, more importantly, the markets – in this regard."
Other MPs have been even less complimentary. One MP who backed Rishi Sunak in the leadership election told PoliticsHome the last week proved that Truss was out of her depth. "She'd drown in a petri dish," they said.
There were further bad headlines after a local media round two days ago by Truss on radio which was widely seen as unimpressive, while today's Sunday Times reveals that Kwarteng attended a private champagne reception hours after the fiscal event with hedge fund managers who would gain from a fall in the pound.
However, in her piece, published this morning, Truss remains unrepentant. She writes: "Fundamentally, a growing economy gives families and businesses the hope of a better future. Growth means people have more money, businesses can invest more in their future and create jobs. It is key to providing more funding for our public services, including the NHS, schools and armed forces. That is why I will not apologise for our relentless focus on growth."
She goes on: "At the same time, we remain committed to the foundations of fiscal responsibility: sound public finances, a lean state and getting the debt down."
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