Four excruciating moments from Liz Truss’s ‘car crash’ local radio interviews

Rima Ahmed quizzed Liz Truss on where she had been for the last four days. (BBC)

Liz Truss emerged for the first time in four days for a round of interviews after the government's mini-budget catapulted the British economy into financial crisis.

She appeared on eight local BBC radio stations for an hour on Thursday morning to answer a wide range of questions - from her economic strategy to her decision to lift the ban on fracking.

But if the prime minister expected an easier ride from local radio journalists, she was proved gravely wrong.

Her interrogation by regional presenters provided several excruciating on-air moments, which saw Truss at times apparently lost for words.

The awkward radio exchanges came after days of silence from the new prime minister, despite escalating economic turmoil which saw the pound drop to a record low against the dollar and the Bank of England (BoE) rescue the Treasury.

BBC Radio Leeds: 'Where have you been?'

As the segment began, Truss said it was "great" to be on BBC Radio Leeds, before being immediately grilled on her whereabouts while the British economy tilted on the brink of collapse.

Read more: Sir Keir Starmer says his mortgage has gone up by 'a few hundred pounds' amid turmoil over mini-budget

"Since Friday, since your chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-budget, the pound has dropped to a record low, the IMF [International Monetary Fund] has said that you should re-evaluate your policies, and the BoE has had to spend £65bn to prop up the markets because of what they describe as a 'material risk'," host Rima Ahmed said.

"Where have you been?"

However, rather than responding to the question, Truss tried to deflect by immediately talking generally about the winter energy bill crisis, as the PM appeared audibly rattled by the line of questioning.

BBC Radio Bristol: 'With respect, that is the same scripted answer'

Truss later appeared on BBC Radio Bristol, where host James Hanson called out the prime minister as she tried to recycle answers about the economic crisis her mini-budget had caused.

"Prime minister, with respect, that is the same scripted answer you have given to every BBC local radio station this morning," said Hanson, cutting off Truss.

"You've got the BoE stepping in now to try and clean up a mess a government has caused - that has never happened!"

Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng during a visit to Berkeley Modular in Northfleet Kent, to coincide with the Government's new Growth Plan. Picture date: Friday September 23, 2022.
Prime minister Liz Truss and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have defended their mini-budget, which crashed parts of the economy, and said it will stimulate economic growth. (PA)

Hanson also quizzed Truss on whether people's pensions would be safe after the BoE intervened and bought over £60bn worth of government debt to avoid a collapse on pensions funds.

"Can you guarantee to my listeners this morning that their pensions are safe?"

As Truss attempted to answer by saying "the Bank of England does a very good job", Hanson again cut her off.

"That's not an answer prime minister," he said. Can you guarantee people's pensions are safe?"

Truss failed to confirm this, instead repeating the BoE "do a very good job" in that area.

BBC Radio Lancashire: Defends fracking... but admits she hasn't been to local fracking site

Perhaps the most excruciating moments on Thursday morning came in her interview with Graham Liver, BBC Radio Lancashire host.

Liver flagged that Truss' own MPs local to the area, including Scott Benton for Blackpool South and Mark Menzies for Fylde, have said their constituents do not support fracking - which her government lifted a ban on.

Read more: Martin Lewis explains in simple terms the current economic chaos

Challenging Truss on the issue of consent for fracking, Liver said: "What does local consent look like, prime minister?"

After an awkward pause and stumbling over her words, she said the energy secretary would outline details.

However last week energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg refused to guarantee local consent - instead claiming "compensation and consent" are two sides of the same coin.

Liver continued to grill Truss, asking: "But your local MPs don't want it, all Conservative - in the past the county council have said they didn't want it, yet your government overturned it, the science hasn't changed.

"Why can't you tell us this morning there won't be a return to fracking in Lancashire?"

Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, September 23, 2022. REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska
Liz Truss' government made tens of billions worth of unfunded tax cuts, many for the wealthiest Brits, on Friday which made global markets panic. (Reuters)

Truss told Liver she didn't "accept the premise" of his question, and said: "I don't think we should rule out the whole of Lancashire."

Liver then pointed out that the government's claims that it worked in other countries ignored key practicalities.

"In America they do it in the middle of nowhere," said Liver.

"Do you actually know where Preston New Road is, where they have been fracking?" asked Liver.

Read more: The time Liz Truss insisted her economic plans were not doomed to fail

After an excruciating silence, Truss admitted: "Well, I don't think I've been to that site in the past."

"Shouldn't you?" replied Liver.

And, after yet another awkward pause, Truss responded: "As I've said, we will only go ahead with projects where there is local consent."

BBC Radio Stoke: Lost for words when quizzed about mortgages

Appearing on BBC Radio Stoke, Truss claimed that everyone would benefit from her economic plan because it would "grow the size of the pie".

However she was quickly rebuffed by host, John Acres, who responded: "By borrowing more? And putting our mortgages up?"

After an awkward silence, Truss said the government was always going to have to borrow more due to energy bills which will protect everyone.

Opinion poll tracker. (PA)
Opinion poll tracker. (PA)

However, she neglected to mention it was the increased borrowing to pay for tax cuts, which largely benefited the richest in the UK, that risked the British economy falling into crisis.

Acres rebuffed her claims on energy again, saying people are set to pay "more in mortgage fees under what you've done, based on the predictions, than we would have saved with energy."

After yet another awkward silence, she avoided the question with: "I don't think anyone is arguing that we shouldn't have acted on energy."

Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Tommy Sheppard described the prime minister's appearance on BBC Stoke as: "Another car crash interview to add to this morning’s pile-up of dead air."

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