Liz Truss launches attack on 'hot air' Michael Gove's war on disposable cups and plastic straws

Posted On: 
26th June 2018

Liz Truss has launched an extraordinary attack on Michael Gove by attacking his crackdown on plastics and suggesting he is full of "hot air".

Liz Truss carries a reusable coffee cup on her way to a Cabinet meeting in April.
PA Images

In outspoken comments, the Treasury Secretary said it should not be the Government's job to tell people how to live their lives.

Ms Truss also appeared to criticise Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson as she rounded on "macho" Cabinet ministers demanding more taxpayers' money for their departments.

Top Tory Liz Truss blasts Cabinet ministers over 'un-Conservative' tax and spend demands

Liz Truss: I love being at the Treasury. I know where the bodies are buried

Michael Gove under fire for flouting his own disposable cup ban

Her remarks, in a speech to the London School of Economics, laid bare once again the deep splits within Theresa May's top team.

Mr Gove has railed against single-use plastics such as disposable coffee cups and plastic straws since becoming Environment Secretary.

But Ms Truss made plain her opposition to what she sees as the nanny state.

She said: "Many of the rules that we have in place are important in guaranteeing public safety. But it's hard to shake the feeling that sometimes they just get in the way of consumers' choices and lifestyles. And government's role should not be to tell us what our tastes should be. 

"Too often we're hearing about eating too many doughnuts, drinking from disposable cups through plastic straws, or enjoying the warm glow of our wood-burning Goves - I mean stoves.

"I can see their point: there's enough hot air and smoke at the Environment Department already."

Elsewhere in her speech, Ms Truss used a bizarre analogy with the film Gremlins to take aim at Cabinet colleagues who has demanded more money from Mrs May.

The Prime Minister announced last week that she had sanctioned a multi-billion pound spending boost for the NHS after representations from Jeremy Hunt.

It also emerged at the weekend that Gavin Williamson was threatening to bring down Mrs May unless she found an extra £20bn for the Ministry of Defence.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is also thought to be on the lookout for more cash for the police.

But in a clear warning, Ms Truss said: "Those familiar with the 1984 film Gremlins – will recall how the cute Gizmo, when fed after midnight, turned into a slime-soaked baddie Stripe.

"In much the same way, there’s a tendency for governments and bureaucracy to multiply and exert further control. And before you know it gremlins are everywhere. There is a temptation to feed these creatures after midnight.

"But more widely, some of my colleagues are not being clear about the tax implications of their proposed higher spending. That’s why, in next year’s spending review, I want to take a zero-based, zero-tolerance approach to wasteful spend.

"We need to take a look at ourselves and think “what is the best way to use the money entrusted to us?”

"We have to make every pound pull its weight. We have to make every pound pull its weight."