Liz Truss slammed for saying UK workers should show 'more graft' like Chinese in leaked recording

17 August 2022, 00:00

Liz Truss said British workers need to produce "more graft"
Liz Truss said British workers need to produce "more graft". Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Tory leadership contender Liz Truss said British workers need to produce "more graft" like the Chinese, a leaked voice note has revealed.

The Foreign Secretary suggested UK workers lacked the "skill and application" of foreign rivals in a leaked audio clip which Labour has called "grossly offensive".

Ms Truss can be heard to make the claim in a leaked recording obtained by The Guardian.

In the recording, made while Ms Truss was a minister at the Treasury, she can be heard saying: "There's a fundamental issue of British working culture.

"Essentially, if we're going to be a richer country and a more prosperous country, that needs to change. But I don't think people are that keen to change that."

She added there was a "slight thing in Britain about wanting the easy answers", before saying: "But actually what needs to happen is more... more graft. It's not a popular message."

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"Where is the detail Liz? You could hardly make it up!"

She also said that productivity was "very, very different in London from the rest of the country", claiming this was "partly a mindset and attitude thing".

Adding: "If you go to China it’s quite different, I can assure you."

Asked about the remarks at the Tory leadership hustings in Perth on Tuesday, Ms Truss said: "I don't know what you are quoting there but the points that I have always made is what we need in this country is more productivity across the country and we need more economic growth.

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"The thing that we don't have enough of is capital investment and that is why it is so important that we get businesses investing, whether it is in the oil and gas industry, whether it is in the whisky industry."

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth referenced an abandoned Truss campaign pledge which would have cut public sector pay outside London, adding: "Now it's revealed she has been saying people outside London don't have the right culture or attitude.

"With wages shrinking thanks to Tory failure to bring inflation under control and years of lacklustre growth, it's grossly offensive for Liz Truss to effectively brand British workers lazy."

Earlier this month on the campaign trail, Ms Truss was forced to abandon an £8.8 billion plan which could have seen public sector pay slashed outside London.

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The Tory leadership frontrunner scrapped the plan for regional pay boards a little over 12 hours after announcing it, following a revolt from senior Conservatives who warned it would be "levelling down" the nation.

Her Tory leadership rival Rishi Sunak and Labour savaged it, claiming it would slash pay for nurses, police and military personnel.

The Foreign Secretary insisted her policy had been "misrepresented", amid growing blue-on-blue attacks, and argued people had been "unnecessarily worried" about cuts as she confirmed she would not be going ahead with the regional pay boards.

Ms Truss was a minister in the Treasury between 2017 and 2019.

Outside the hustings a large crowd of protesters gathered outside shouting "Tory scum" and "Tories out".

People demonstrating outside the city's Concert Hall were seen pushing through barriers and shouting at the attendees before the event started at 7pm on Tuesday.

Police officers were pictured managing the crowds, with people carrying placards saying "Tory scum go away", "refugees welcome" and "No ifs no buts no Tory cuts".