Liz Truss will address a pro-growth rally at the Conservative Party conference on Monday, as she tries to keep alive her tax-cutting agenda.
The former prime minister will lead a panel of senior MPs that will push for low-tax, pro-growth policies that Rishi Sunak, her successor, has sidelined in his first year in office.
Monday’s event has been dubbed the “Great British Growth Rally”, with Dame Priti Patel, the former home secretary, and Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary, discussing the “crisis” of low growth in Britain.
The event will likely be a thorn in Mr Sunak’s side as he tries to portray last year’s splits in the party as a thing of the past at his first annual conference since becoming Prime Minister.
Low growth ‘hurting living standards’
Former party leaders tend to skip conference, the main event in the party’s political calendar, the year after leaving office.
Boris Johnson did not attend last year’s event in Birmingham, and other former cabinet ministers from Mr Johnson’s and Ms Truss’s administrations have decided not to attend this year.
Ms Truss gave an indication that she would continue to push her pro-growth agenda during an Institute for Government event earlier this month.
During her address, she responded to criticism from Mark Carney, who said she had helped turn the UK into “Argentina on the Channel” in an apparent reference to her mini-Budget.
Ms Truss retorted that the former Bank of England chief was “defensive” about his role in the “25-year economic consensus that has led to low growth across the Western world”.
She further defended her economic plan, adding: “The tax cuts we were introducing were not major tax cuts.
“They would have made a fairly marginal difference, in fact, to the level of the deficit. What they were about was showing a new direction for Britain.”
The “Great British Growth Rally” is described as a “star-studded panel of speakers” who will explain “how we can tackle this crisis” of growth.
“Low growth is hurting living standards, life opportunities and our national prospects,” according to a blurb for Monday’s event.
“We must be bold and make the supply side reforms which will enable young people to get on the housing ladder, businesses to grow and for the country to be confident in a brighter secure future for all.”
Ranil Jayawardena, the Tory MP who leads the Conservative Growth Group along with Mr Clarke, said: “It feels like the tax man is breathing down your neck from cradle to grave.
“It’s time for tax reform for every stage in people’s lives – for first-time buyers, for homeowners, for couples and working-age parents with children, for entrepreneurs – and for those that have worked their whole lives to hand something down to their loved ones.”
The event at the conference in Manchester will be seen as an attempt to hold Jeremy Hunt’s feet to the fire, as the Chancellor comes under pressure to include tax cuts in November’s Autumn Statement.
There is an expectation that Mr Hunt will offer personal tax cuts in the spring, but said last week that they currently remain “virtually impossible”.
Mr Sunak promised that he would cut 1p off income tax in April 2024 when he ran against Ms Truss in the August 2022 leadership contest.