Five key messages from Liz Truss' Conservative Party Conference speech

Wed 5 Oct 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Until relatively recently, prime minister Liz Truss’ most famous moment at a party conference concerned the UK’s overreliance on imports of pears, apples and cheese.

Today’s keynote address to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham may not live in the memory for as long, particularly given there were no significant new policy announcements.

Instead she reiterated her mission to restore economic growth by lowering taxation and through post-Brexit deregulation.

She will hope that this message can reassert her leadership over her party while restoring confidence in the markets and voting public following the chancellor’s ‘mini budget’ twelve days ago.

She didn’t speak explicitly about imports this time round, or exports, but did refer to Brexit and reiterated the party’s 2019 manifesto pledge to level up the country.

The IOE&IT Daily Update here looks at five key messages from today’s speech for UK businesses.

1: “Growth growth growth”

Having come onto stage with the backing track of ‘Moving on Up’ by the M People, Truss put growth at the heart of her speech, at one point saying: “I have three priorities for our economy: growth, growth and growth”.

Despite the volatility in the markets that followed chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget on 23 September, she said that she will stick by her guns, saying “we must stay the course”.

She said that growth will be delivered by lowering taxation, having an “iron grip” on the public finances and through economic reform.

“We must break out of the high tax, low growth cycle,” she said, positioning her government against a so-called “anti-growth coalition” of opposition parties and bodies that she argued would “meddle” in industry and regulation.

She argued that competitive taxes will “put up a sign that Britain is open for business.”

2: “I get it and I have listened.”

Addressing the government’s U-turn on its previous plan to scrap the 45p income tax rate on higher earners, she admitted the issue had become a “distraction”.

“I get it and I have listened,” she said.

She reiterated that the government had to act to address the energy crisis and claimed that the UK’s energy support package was the most generous of any state in Europe.

She argued that the government was having to act in the wider context of the aftermath of the pandemic, the impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the global economic crisis.

“I’m determined to get Britain moving, through the tempest and on a stronger footing,” she said.

3: Post-Brexit deregulation

Although Truss didn’t explicitly refer to international trade, she did mention Brexit.

“We are the party that got Brexit done and we will realise the promise of Brexit,” she said.

She reiterated recent government pledges that “all EU red tape will be consigned to history” by the end of the year.

She said regulation will instead be “pro-business and pro-growth”.

She added that the government will set out its regulatory and economic reforms “over the next few weeks”.

4: Levelling up still a key message

Truss reiterated her predecessor PM Boris Johnson’s pledge to level up the country, saying “we must level up our country in a Conservative way, meaning anyone everywhere can get on”.

“It’s wrong to invest only in the places where people are thriving,” she explained.

She cited how “new investment zones” will be a key policy lever for achieving this, saying these would be set up in all four nations.

Her government would “harness power of free enterprise to transform our country and ensure our greatest days lie ahead”.

5: Committed to net zero

Although a protest from Greenpeace activists interrupted her speech, Truss did refer to the government’s aim to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Referring to the energy crisis that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she said that the government is now “taking decisive action to reinforce our energy security” by “opening more gas fields in the North Sea and delivering more renewables and nuclear energy”.

“This is how we will protect the Great British environment, deliver on our commitment to net zero and tackle climate change,” she said.