Liz Truss has said she is willing to take “controversial” steps to spur growth today as she refused to reverse her economic plans that have rocked financial markets this week.
In a bruising series of local BBC Radio interviews, Truss said repeatedly that market volatility was a “global problem” and that she would not back down from last week’s tax cuts.
Markets reacted very poorly to Truss’ interviews and yields on long-term gilts shot up while she was speaking.
“This is the right plan that we’ve set out,” she said.
“We had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving, and also deal with inflation. Of course, that means taking controversial and difficult decisions, but I’m prepared to do that as Prime Minister.”
She also said she doesn’t “accept the premise” that her package of tax cuts – which will be funded by £45bn+ of borrowing and came on top of a £150bn energy support package – spooked markets.
Truss broke cover for the first time in four days to speak to eight local radio stations back-to-back this morning, after the Bank of England had to step in yesterday to stop the collapse of a series of British pension funds.
The Bank is buying up £65bn of bonds to stabilise gilt yields, which have surged since last Friday, and calm the markets.
The first question Truss faced from BBC Radio Leeds was “where have you been?” while all this was happening and it only got worse from there as the morning progressed.
The Prime Minister was left speechless in the face of some questions and was relentlessly attacked for her government’s fiscal plans by presenters.
BBC Radio Stoke presenter John Acres questioned Truss on whether it was sensible to be borrowing more and forcing the BoE to increase interest rates, which was met by five seconds of silence from the Prime Minister.
She then said: “We need to borrow this winter for the energy crisis that we’re facing. I think that was the right thing to do.”
She also faced tough questioning from BBC Radio Lancashire about her plan to lift the ban on fracking and whether new projects will have to receive local consent.
When asked what local consent looked like, Truss said: “Well, the, the energy secretary will be laying out in more detail exactly what that looks like, but it does mean making sure there is local support for going ahead.
“There are various detailed issues to be worked through, but I can assure [Tory MP] Mark Menzies I will make sure there will be local consent to go ahead with fracking.”
She was then asked if she had ever visited Lancashire’s fracking site and when Truss said no, was asked: “Shouldn’t you?”
This was met by a five-second silence, before Truss finally said: “We will only go ahead with projects where there is local consent, I’m very very clear about that.”
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Liz Truss has finally broken her long painful silence with a series of short painful silences.
“People desperately needed reassurance on prices, mortgages and pensions.”