Liz Truss: Stormy days ahead, but Ive got your back

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The Prime Minister came out fighting after a difficult week of Tory division pledging to deliver “growth, growth, growth”.

She vowed to steer the country through the “tempest” of global economic turmoil to great times ahead and told the British people “I’ve got your back”.  

Taking aim at the “enemies of enterprise” who are stopping the country from prospering, Ms Truss insisted she is on the side of people who do the right thing.

Addressing the Tory grassroots at the end of the party’s autumn conference in Birmingham, she said: “In these tough times, we need to step up.”

“I am determined to get Britain moving, to get us through the tempest and put us on a stronger footing as a nation.”

And Ms Truss promised the country: “You can trust me to do what it takes”. 

“Together, we can unleash the full potential of our great country,” she said. 

“That is how we will build a new Britain for a new era.”

Ms Truss has endured a rocky first conference as Prime Minister after senior figures in the party openly turned on each other in rows over taxes and benefits.

Explaining her own decision to reverse on plans to axe the 45p top rate of tax, she told the party “I get it and I have listened”.

But set out a clear vision for who the party’s real opponents are, attacking the “anti-growth coalition” of vested interests that always turn to take hikes and more red tape.

The PM was left unfazed when a Greenpeace duo attempted to hijack the event by shouting and unfurling banners attacking her premiership.

She used the disturbance to highlight her opposition to people who prefer “protesting to doing”.

Militant unions, talking heads, Brexit deniers and Extinction Rebellion prefer “talking on Twitter to taking tough decisions”, the conference was told.

“They taxi from North London townhouses to the BBC studio to dismiss anyone challenging the status quo,” Ms Truss said. 

“From broadcast to podcast, they peddle the same old answers. It’s always more taxes, more regulation and more meddling. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

“We see the anti-growth coalition at work across the country.”

“Keir Starmer wants to put extra taxes on the companies we need to invest in our energy security.”

“And his sticking plaster solution will only last six months.”

“He has no long-term plan and no vision for Britain.”

Lumping in Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon, she added: “Have these people ever seen a tax rise they don’t like? Or an industry they don’t want to control? They don’t understand the British people.”

“They don’t understand aspiration.”

“They are prepared to leave our towns and cities facing decline.”

She said the “anti-growth coalition just doesn’t get it” because they do not face the same challenges as normal working people.

“These enemies of enterprise don’t know the frustration you feel to see your road blocked by protesters, or the trains off due to a strike.”

“In fact, their friends on the hard Left tend to be the ones behind the disruption.”

“The anti-growth coalition think the people who stick themselves to trains, roads and buildings are heroes.”

“I say the real heroes are those who go to work, take responsibility and aspire to a better life for themselves and their family. And I am on their side.”

In a deeply personal address to the party, Ms Truss laid out how her belief in opportunity and enterprise is deeply rooted in her experiences growing up in Paisley and Leeds.

She told the party that she understands the “hopes and fears” the public has because they are the same as hers.

Setting out a vision of “modern Conservatism”, the Prime Minister attacked the nanny state.

“I believe that you know best how to spend your own money, to get on in life and realise your own ambitions,” she said.

“That is what Conservatism is about.”

“It is a belief in freedom, in fair play and the great potential of the British people.”

“So, I’m not going to tell you what to do, or what to think or how to live your life.”

 “I’m not interested in how many two-for-one offers you buy at the supermarket, how you spend your spare time, or in virtue signalling.”

 “I’m not interested in just talking about things, but actually in doing things.”

 “What I’m interested in is your hopes and fears that you feel every day.”

“Can you get a good job locally? Is it safe to walk down the high street late at night?”

“Can you get a doctor’s appointment?”

“I know how you feel because I have the same hopes and fears.”

Ms Truss gave a rare insight into how she has had to fight to get where she is today.

“I have fought to get jobs, to get pay rises and get on the housing ladder. I have juggled my career with raising two wonderful daughters.”

“I know how it feels to have your potential dismissed by those who think they know better.”

“I remember as a young girl being presented on a plane with a “Junior Air Hostess” badge.

“Meanwhile, my brothers were given “Junior Pilot” badges.

“It wasn’t the only time in my life that I have been treated differently for being female or for not fitting in.”

“It made me angry and it made me determined.”

“Determined to change things so other people didn’t feel the same way.”

She told the hall how growing up in Leeds, she saw too many children being let down by low expectations and a Labour council more interested in “political correctness than they were in school standards”.

“But I was lucky to have been brought up in a family that cared about education,” she said. 

“They taught me the value of hard work and enterprise.”

“And I stand here today as the first Prime Minister of our country to have gone to a comprehensive school.”

“That taught me two things. One is that we have huge talent across the country. And two, that we’re not making enough of it.”

Ms Truss said that was why it is vital to stick with the pledge to “level up” the country to ensure “everyone can get on”. 

She made a point of stressing to the party that she is in “lockstep” with “dynamic” Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

The speech appeared to calm tensions in the party after a febrile few days of division.

Ministers said they thought it had “gone well” and they felt more “positive” after a tricky conference gathering.

Mark Littlewood, Director General at free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “During her leadership campaign Truss spoke about ‘delivery, delivery, delivery’.”

“She now needs to return to this theme if she’s going to achieve today’s message of ‘growth, growth, growth.”

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The prime minister was right to give both barrels to the enemies of enterprise.”

“To go for growth, Britain has to break free from the shackles of our gruelling tax system and the sluggish status quo.”

“Truss must now put words into action to tackle the cost of government crisis.”

CBI president Brian McBride said: “The Prime Minister has reasserted the Government’s commitment to growth and to a pro-enterprise agenda. The 2.5% target is the right ambition, it’s now down to delivery.”

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