Prime Minister Liz Truss has faced a series of interviews this morning (September 29) after being unseen in public since her newly appointed Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced the government’s ‘mini budget’ last Friday. In the budget, the government announced a series of tax cuts and stamp duty cuts, which would benefit the most wealthy in the country.
However, since then, the UK economy has been thrown into turmoil with the pound dropping , many mortgage deals being pulled in a housing market panic – and all of this on top of already growing fuel costs, energy prices and a mounting Cost of Living crisis.
Reports suggest that some Tory MPs have already sent in letters of no confidence in the PM, who has only been in her role for some three weeks. And now it seems the Labour Party look to be on course for a large majority in the next election, if reports like this one from The Telegraph are anything to go by.
This morning, the Prime Minister has embarked on a number of local radio interviews – the first being for BBC Radio Leeds at 8am – where presenter Rima Ahmed asked Liz Truss where she had been since the government’s mini budget was announced. Her response was simply: “I’m here now talking to you”.
And at around 8:45am, it was Bristol’s turn to do the questioning, with BBC Radio Bristol presenter James Hanson asking the PM questions straight from the horses’ (or rather local Bristolians’) mouths. He started off the interview by saying: “It’s hard to know what is falling more since you entered Downing Street – the value of the pound or the Tory poll rating, but on a serious note no-one can deny you entered Downing Street with a difficult job on your hands, but you’ve made the situation worse, haven’t you?”
To which Liz Truss replied by saying: “Let’s remember the situation we were facing when I entered Downing Street – people were facing bills of up to £6,000 this winter for their energy. We were facing very high inflation and an economic slowdown and I and the Chancellor have taken decisive action to deal with that.
“From this weekend, the energy bill price guarantee comes in, so people will be facing no more than £2,500 from a typical energy bill. We’ve also taken action to reduce our tax burden and spur…”, however, before she could continue further, the presenter called her out for giving “the same scripted answer” she had given “to every other local BBC radio station this morning”.
He went on to tell the Prime Minister: “You’ve got the Bank of England stepping in now to try and clean up a mess a government has caused. That’s never happened.”
The PM was called out again by the host and cut short when she said the “very very difficult economic global situation” was “because of the war that Vladimir Putin has perpetrated in Ukraine and countries are under pressure around the world.”
She also said that, despite the Bank of England being “independent” and having a lot of responsibility, the government was right to take action with its announcement on Friday. She added: “It’s very difficult and stormy times in the international markets and, of course, the Bank of England is independent and it takes the action it needs to take and it is responsible for interest rates and it is responsible for financial stability.
“But it is right that the government took action to deal with people’s fuel bills, it’s right that we took action to deal with the excessively high tax burden and it’s right that we’ve taken action to get the economy going and the vast majority of the package on Friday was about energy support and if we hadn’t acted decisively and quickly on energy support, people would be facing these appalling fuel bills this winter.
“I think that’s what’s important today. Of course it’s a difficult situation, of course the decisions are tough but we have to do it.”
Asked whether the Prime Minister could ‘guarantee to listeners that their pensions are safe’, Liz Truss responded: “The Bank of England does a very very good job on delivering financial stability… The Bank of England do that.”
She went on to reiterate that the current situation was a “global” one, adding: “Currencies are under pressure around the world. This government has stepped in and taken decisive action on energy prices, on getting the economy growing and also on inflation.
“Our energy package is expected to reduce inflation by up to five per cent. The energy package comes into place this weekend and what this is about is curbing inflation.
“So it’s making inflation less than it otherwise would have been. But this is a global problem and I think you need to look at the situation in other countries as well.”
Local Bristol business owners had also taken to Twitter to ask if BBC Radio Bristol could ask Liz Truss about what is being done to help small businesses with increasingly high energy costs, to which the Prime Minister said: “Well the Business Secretary is actually doing some work on that and that will be, I think, in about two months.
“He will give people more details on how that package will work, but we’re determined to make sure that small businesses are supported. As I’ve just said, the majority of the package that we announces on Friday at the mini budget is about energy support.”
She went on to say: “I would point out that interest rates are going up around the world. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates, this is a global phenomenon and we had the highest tax burden for 70 years and we’ve reduced taxes across the board.
“And in a lot of cases it’s simply not about raising taxes as we’ve done on corporation tax. But what we are doing is we’re making sure that taxes are lower, so we attract investment into the economy and we get those high-paid jobs into the economy, because as well as facing high inflation, as well as facing high energy prices, we’re also facing an economic slowdown.
“So that is why it’s important to have lower taxes across the board, including on National Insurance, which affects millions of people, including income tax, which affects millions of people, so that we get the investment we need to keep people in work and to make sure people get higher wages – that is why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
What are your thoughts on Liz Truss’ words? Would you have asked her anything different? Let us know in the comments below.