Prime minister Liz Truss defended her government’s plans to cuts taxes on Wednesday, insisting they were both “morally and economically” right.
Appearing after a turbulent few days, which saw the government U-turn on the proposed abolition of the 45p higher rate of tax, Truss told the Conservative party conference: “These are stormy days. We are dealing with the global economic crisis caused by Covid and Putin’s appalling war in Ukraine.
But she also acknowledged that “we need to get Britain moving. We cannot have any more drift and delay at this vital time”.
Her priorities for the economy, she said, were “growth, growth, growth”, which she would deliver by cutting taxes, keeping an “iron grip on the nation’s finances” and driving economic reforms.
“We will lower our tax burden. The Conservative party will always be the party of low taxes. Cutting taxes is the right thing to do morally and economically.”
Telling the audience “I love enterprise”, Truss added: “We must break down barriers to growth built up over decades.
“As a result economic growth has been choked off.”
She did not give any further details, nor were any new policies announced. But she did take aim at an apparent “anti-growth coalition”.
She said: “I will not allow the anti-growth coalition to hold us back.
“Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP. The militant unions, the vested interests dressed up as think tanks…the Brexit deniers, Extinction Rebellion. The fact is they prefer protesting to doing, tweeting to making hard decisions.”
Her speech was interrupted by two Greenpeace protestors, who heckled Truss and held up a banner asking “Who voted for this?”.
She joked that they were also part of the anti-growth coalition.
Truss also backed her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, calling him “dynamic” and insisting they would continue to “forge ahead” and make difficult decisions. Kwarteng has faced severe criticism since his mini budget – which included £45bn of debt-funded tax cuts but no spending plans or economic forecasts – caused the pound to plummet and gilt yields to rise.
The most controversial element was the proposed abolition of the highest rate of tax during a cost of living crisis, and Kwarteng earlier this week bowed to pressure and scrapped the proposal. Truss conceded it had become a “distraction. I get it, and I have listened”.
Truss became prime minister in September after former incumbent Boris Johnson resigned in July. She is the fourth prime minister to take up residence in 10 Downing Street since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.