Liz Truss ‘willing to be unpopular PM’ to grow British economy

·5-min read
Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks to journalists at the Empire State Building in New York during her visit to the US (PA)
Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks to journalists at the Empire State Building in New York during her visit to the US (PA)

Liz Truss has said she is willing to be an unpopular Prime Minister to bring in measures she believes will grow the economy.

In interviews on her arrival in New York for a UN summit, Ms Truss confirmed she would be reversing the national insurance hike and axing the planned increase to corporation tax, ahead of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget on Friday.

She also dismissed concerns around government plans to borrow more instead of taxing energy companies’ profits through a windfall tax and said she does not accept cutting taxes is unfair, despite admitting her policies will disproportionately benefit the rich.

She also appeared to confirm a plan to scrap the cap on bankers' bonuses.

In one broadcast interview BBC Political Editor Chris Mason asked Ms Truss whether she was happy to see bankers getting bigger bonuses and for the rich to get richer.

“What I want to see is a growing economy,” Ms Truss said.

The Chancellor is reportedly weighing up whether to remove a cap on bankers’ bonuses as part of a shake-up of City rules (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
The Chancellor is reportedly weighing up whether to remove a cap on bankers’ bonuses as part of a shake-up of City rules (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

“If that means taking difficult decisions which are going to help Britain become more competitive, help Britain become more attractive, help more investment flow into our country, yes, I’m absolutely prepared to make those decisions.”

The Prime Minister was asked in an interview with Sky News on the 102nd-floor observatory of the Empire State Building if she is prepared to be unpopular.

“Yes. Yes, I am,” she replied.

“What is important to me is we grow the British economy because that’s what will ultimately deliver higher wages, more investment in towns and cities across the country. That’s what will ultimately deliver more money to people’s pockets.

“In order to get that economic growth, Britain has to be competitive. If we put up taxes, if we have arbitrary taxes on energy companies, if we have high corporation tax we’re not going to get that investment and growth…”

Economic experts and critics of her policies have warned tax cuts will benefit the rich far more than the rest of society.

Liz Truss - In pictures

(Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)
Queen Elizabeth II greeting Liz Truss (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II greeting Liz Truss (PA)
Margaret Thatcher  visiting Trinity St Sergius monastery in Zagorsk, 70 kms northeast of Moscow on 29 March 1987 and Liz Truss arriving to visit the Holodomor Monument at the National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocidein Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)
Margaret Thatcher visiting Trinity St Sergius monastery in Zagorsk, 70 kms northeast of Moscow on 29 March 1987 and Liz Truss arriving to visit the Holodomor Monument at the National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocidein Kyiv (AFP via Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts as he sits next to his wife Carrie Johnson, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Home Secretary Priti Patel during the National Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul’s Cathedral as part of celebrations marking the Platinum Jubilee of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, (REUTERS)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts as he sits next to his wife Carrie Johnson, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Home Secretary Priti Patel during the National Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul’s Cathedral as part of celebrations marking the Platinum Jubilee of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, (REUTERS)
Liz Truss with Larry the cat (@elizabeth.truss.mp/Instagram)
Liz Truss with Larry the cat (@elizabeth.truss.mp/Instagram)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Liz Truss leave NATO Headquarters following a summit on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Henry Nicholls/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Liz Truss leave NATO Headquarters following a summit on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Henry Nicholls/PA) (PA Wire)
Liz Truss playing table tennis during a visit to the Onside Future Youth Zone in London (PA)
Liz Truss playing table tennis during a visit to the Onside Future Youth Zone in London (PA)
Liz Truss with her husband Hugh O’Leary, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London as it was announced that she is the new Conservative party leader (PA)
Liz Truss with her husband Hugh O’Leary, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London as it was announced that she is the new Conservative party leader (PA)
Liz Truss doing some Christmas baking (@elizabeth.truss.mp/Instagram)
Liz Truss doing some Christmas baking (@elizabeth.truss.mp/Instagram)
Home Secretary Priti Patel, Housing Secretary Michael Gove, Justice Secretary and deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Cop26 President Alok Sharma during the first Cabinet meeting since the reshuffle at 10 Downing Street (PA)
Home Secretary Priti Patel, Housing Secretary Michael Gove, Justice Secretary and deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Cop26 President Alok Sharma during the first Cabinet meeting since the reshuffle at 10 Downing Street (PA)
Liz Truss during a visit to Condimentum Ltd, The Food Enterprise Park, in Norwich, Norfolk (PA)
Liz Truss during a visit to Condimentum Ltd, The Food Enterprise Park, in Norwich, Norfolk (PA)

Ms Truss accepted this would be the initial effect but rejected criticisms of unfairness.

“I don’t accept this argument that cutting taxes is somehow unfair,” she told Sky.

“What we know is people on higher incomes generally pay more tax so when you reduce taxes there is often a disproportionate benefit because those people are paying more taxes in the first place.

“We should be setting our tax policy on the basis of what is going to help our country become successful. What is going to deliver that economy that benefits everybody in our country. What I don’t accept is the idea that tax cuts for business don’t help people in general.”

As she was speaking, US President Joe Biden tweeted criticism of the type of economic policy she was advocating – a day ahead of their meeting at the United Nations summit in New York City.

“I am sick and tired of trickle-down economics. It has never worked,” Mr Biden said.

The President’s tweet was not believed to be directed at Ms Truss, but underlined the differences between the two leaders’ stances just as Ms Truss says she wants to foster closer ties with international allies, and ahead of a meeting between the two leaders at the summit on Wednesday.

It came as the new Prime Minister faced stinging criticism after she admitted talks with the US on a free trade deal — seen as one of the great prizes of Brexit — are unlikely to resume for years.

Ms Truss and Mr Biden had been due to meet in Downing Street on Sunday, before the Queen’s state funeral which Mr Biden attended, but the meeting was postponed due to what one Cabinet minister today called “extreme diary pressures”.

Speaking to reporters travelling with her to the US, Ms Truss said deals with India and other allies are “our trade priorities”. On the prospect of a US trade deal, she said: “There aren’t currently any negotiations taking place with the US and I don’t have an expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term.”Meanwhile she not discuss issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol or unauthorised migrant crossings of the Channel during her meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron.

The Prime Minister had a "constructive" conversation lasting around half-an-hour, Downing Street said, but it focused on energy security rather than the two major points of contention.

The pair held their first bilateral meeting at the fringes of the United Nations summit in New York after Ms Truss caused controversy by failing to say whether the ally was "friend or foe".

US President Joe Biden (centre) and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, (PA)
US President Joe Biden (centre) and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, (PA)

Mr Macron reportedly welcomed their conversations on Ukraine and other European issues, saying: "I now believe in proof, in results.

"There is a will to re-engage, to move on and to show that we are allies and friends in a complex world."

Ms Truss's official spokesman confirmed they did not discuss the post-Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland or migrant crossings in small boats, which have not abated.

He said the Government intends to resolve protocol issues with the EU, adding: "This is not an issue that necessarily we believe can be solved through one single EU country."

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

But the spokesman would not say whether she will raise the protocol with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday.

The White House has said that Joe Biden will raise it in his meeting with Ms Truss.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US president will "encourage the UK and the European Union to work out a practical outcome that ensures there is no threat to the fundamental principles of the Good Friday agreement".

Ahead of her meeting with Mr Macron, Ms Truss had stressed that tackling migrant crossings in small boats was one of the issues the two nations must work together on.

Provisional figures suggest more than 29,700 people have made the perilous journey this year - exceeding last year's total of 28,526.