Liz Truss sets sights on 'anti-growth coalition' in bid to save job

5 October 2022, 11:25 | Updated: 7 October 2022, 13:36

Liz Truss hit out at what she called an 'anti-growth coalition' - which she said included Labour and trade unions - in her speech
Liz Truss hit out at what she called an 'anti-growth coalition' - which she said included Labour and trade unions - in her speech. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Liz Truss attacked what she called the "anti-growth coalition" during her make-or-break party conference speech.

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Addressing the conference after her speech was interrupted by Greenpeace protesters, the Prime Minister hit out at opposition parties, trade unions, think tanks, "Brexit deniers" and environmental protesters.

"Economic growth makes us strong at home and strong abroad and we need an economically sound and secure United Kingdom and that will mean challenging those who try to stop growth," 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 talking heads, the Brexit deniers, Extinction Rebellion and some of the people we had in the hall earlier.

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"The fact is they prefer protesting to doing.

"They prefer talking on Twitter to taking tough decisions.

"They taxi from north London townhouses to the BBC studio to dismiss anyone challenging the status quo.

"From broadcast to podcast, they peddle the same old answers.

"It's always more taxes, more regulation and more meddling.

"Wrong, wrong, wrong."

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Ms Truss also vowed to get Britain "through the tempest", hoping to repair damaged relations with sections of her party and her own Cabinet after a bruising gathering in Birmingham.

Tory infighting broke out following her disastrous mini-budget, which sent the markets into turmoil, and led to criticism of her politics and questions over whether she could reunite a fractured party.

She said she had been treated differently for being a woman, and in a possible warning to rebel Tories, added: "I know how it feels to have your potential diminished by those who think they know better."

She went on to say that by being treated differently she was "determined to change things".

The Prime Minister started the speech by saying: "We gather at a vital time for the United Kingdom. These are stormy days.

Liz Truss has vowed to get Britain “through the tempest” in conference speech

"Together, we have mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the rock on which modern Britain was built," she told the conference earlier.

"We're now in a new era under King Charles III.

"We're dealing with the global economic crisis caused by Covid and by Putin's appalling war in Ukraine. In these tough times, we need to step up. I'm determined to get Britain moving, to get us through the tempest and put us on a stronger footing as a nation."

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Midway through her speech, two women, dressed in suits, held a banner that said "Who voted for this" with the Greenpeace logo.

"Let's get them removed," demanded the Prime Minister, as they were drowned out by boos from the conference hall.

They were ejected as they grinned to cameras, while Tory visitors chanted "Truss, Truss!" over and over and began applauding the PM.

"Later on in my speech, my friends, I'm going to talk about the anti-growth coalition. But I think they arrived in the hall a bit too early, they were meant to come later on, so we'll get on to them in a few minutes," Ms Truss said.

Greenpeace said on Twitter: "Greenpeace activists have interrupted @TrussLiz speech at #CPC22 to denounce the prime minister 'shredding' her party’s 2019 manifesto promises.

"The PM is U-turning on fracking, strong climate action, and world-leading environmental protections. Who voted for this?"

Read more: Ministers 'planning to raise the pension age to 68 by the mid-2030s' in blow to millions

The Tory reaction to the protesters was a rare bit of unity on display for a party that saw some among their number begin to take aim at Ms Truss's policies.

Liz Truss heckled by Greenpeace during Party Conference speech

Protesters were ejected from the Tory conference in Birmingham
Protesters were ejected from the Tory conference in Birmingham. Picture: Alamy

Michael Gove was among the big names to criticise her, calling for a reversal on abolishing the 45p top rate of income tax, which the PM later implemented. She also failed to rule out more U-turns.

Then, Penny Mordaunt, a former rival for the leadership of the party, said benefits should rise in line with inflation, despite the Government seeming set to adjust it in line with earnings, at about 5.4%.

Some of Ms Truss's allies have fired back.

Levelling up secretary Simon Clarke backed Home Secretary Suella Braverman after she accused Tory rebels of staging a "coup" in the wake of the the Government's tax U-turn.

There were even fears among Ms Truss's team as to how many Tory MPs would even turn up for her speech.

Government aides texted them asking if they were attending as some caught the trains back to avoid Wednesday's strikes while others said they couldn't take anymore after the conference in Birmingham became overshadowed by the tax debacle and Ms Truss's own poor communication.

She had to apologise to LBC after previously saying no family would pay more than £2,500 for their energy bills.

However, the price cap is a cap on the unit of energy used, not an absolute limit, and the Government believes the average household won't pay more than £2,500 based on previous energy use.

She said she should have been clearer when she spoke before.

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