We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.


Ditching Liz Truss would be ‘disastrously bad idea’, says UK Foreign Secretary

He said the UK Government is focused on getting economic growth despite the market turbulence.

LAST UPDATE | 13 Oct 2022

ALLIES OF LIZ Truss have rallied round the British Prime Minister after she came under intense pressure from her own MPs to abandon her economic plan following a market backlash to the measures.

The Tory leader endured a bruising appearance with her backbenchers yesterday evening but her supporters insisted her tax-cutting, pro-growth agenda must be allowed to progress.

With Truss’ leadership already being questioned after little more than a month in the job, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said a change at the top of the party would be a “disastrously bad idea”.

Downing Street said the British Prime Minister’s “sole focus” is delivering on the economic growth plan and on issues such as the war in Ukraine.

At a stormy meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee in Westminster yesterday, Commons Education Committee chairman Robert Halfon told Truss she had “trashed the last 10 years of workers’ Conservatism”.

Meanwhile, the editor of the influential ConservativeHome website, Paul Goodman, suggested there has been speculation about replacing Truss with a joint ticket involving her former leadership rivals Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt.

But Cleverly told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have got to recognise that we do need to bring certainty to the markets.

“I think changing the leadership would be a disastrously bad idea politically and also economically.
“We are absolutely going to stay focused on growing the economy.”

UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, who is in Washington for the International Monetary Fund’s annual meeting, has already been forced to abandon plans to scrap the 45p income tax rate for top earners.

After Cleverly declined to rule out further U-turns – while insisting the UK Government will “absolutely stick” with its tax-cutting principles – the Prime Minister’s official spokesman made clear there will be no further changes.

“The position has not changed,” the spokesman said.

The Chancellor, however, is now under pressure to reinstate a planned increase in corporation tax from April in an effort to reassure the bond market that the UK Government does have a strategy to get the public finances under control.

But Cleverly told Sky News: “I think that it is absolutely right that we want to invest in businesses. It is absolutely right that we help them stay competitive, we help them stay afloat.

“We have got to make sure we can compete internationally with the other places businesses can choose to locate. We have got to make sure we are tax-competitive.”

Asked if the UK Government will stick with the policies of the mini-budget, he said the “bulk” of the mini-budget was the package to protect households and businesses from soaring energy costs.

But it was also “about making sure that taxes for 30 million people were reduced a little bit and those are really strong principles” and “I think we should absolutely stick with those”.

He said the planned statement by the Chancellor on 31 October will set out a more “holistic” view of the UK Government’s plans, but the “foundations” of the mini-budget were “really key for the growth agenda the Prime Minister has put forward”.

Veteran Tory backbencher Christopher Chope insisted he has “absolute confidence” in Truss, telling Times Radio: “If I was a betting man I would now be going out and putting money on the Conservatives winning the next general election, not with a landslide but certainly with a good majority.”

The UK Government’s plans revolve around securing an increase in economic growth – with a target of an annual rise of around 2.5% in gross domestic product (GDP).

The forecasts presented by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) alongside the Chancellor’s 31 October statement will give an assessment on whether that is viewed as a realistic ambition.

But Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested the UK Government could ignore OBR forecasts accompanying the strategy if they predict low growth and rising debt.

Downing Street, however, said Truss has confidence in the data produced by the OBR, which remains the UK Government’s official forecaster.

“The Prime Minister has said on a number of occasions that she values their scrutiny and respects their independence. They are a highly-regarded body worldwide,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

Rees-Mogg has also blamed the Bank of England for the turmoil in the value of sterling and the rising cost of UK Government borrowing, while former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said Governor Andrew Bailey’s handling of the situation had been “stupid”.

Cleverly said “of course he is not stupid” but “it doesn’t mean we always agree with everything the Bank of England Governor says or does”.

Press Association
Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel