British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday defended her government’s controversial mini-budget which has triggered widespread economic turmoil and insisted that it was the “decisive action” needed for long-term growth.
In her first round of interviews with local BBC radio stations around the country since the tax-cutting and high government, borrowing measures were tabled by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in the House of Commons last week, the recently elected leader insisted "controversial and difficult decisions" needed to be taken to improve the situation in the UK.
Truss was keen to keep the focus on the largely welcome action taken to freeze fuel bills for households and businesses amid spiralling global energy costs in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
"We had to take decisive action to help people through this winter and next winter,” said Truss.
“I understand that families are struggling with their fuel bills and we had to take urgent action to get our economy growing and get Britain moving and also deal with inflation. And, of course, that means taking controversial and difficult decisions and I am prepared to do that as Prime Minister because what’s important to me is that we get our economy moving,” she said.
Challenged repeatedly over the tumbling pound against the dollar and the Bank of England having to step in with emergency measures to buy back the country’s long-term bonds, Truss insisted that the tax cuts announced last week were the right answer.
“If we have higher taxes going into difficult economic times that are likely to lead to a recession. I want people to stay in jobs and earn higher wages,” she said.
Questioned on whether her government's policies of cutting taxes for the very rich were fair to the wider public amid a cost-of-living crisis, she added: "The reality is having lower taxes across the board… helps everybody because it helps grow the economy and for too long the debate in this country has been about distribution, not how we grow our economy.
"It is not fair to have a recession, it is not fair to have a town where you are not getting the investment, it is not fair if we don't get high-paying jobs in the future because we have got the highest tax burden in 70 years. That's what is not fair."
Truss, who beat former Indian-origin Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership election earlier this month on the basis of her tax-cutting promises, insisted there were "difficult markets around the world" and therefore the problem in the UK was not isolated.
The scheduled interview rounds come ahead of the governing Conservative Party’s annual conference, starting in Birmingham this weekend. It will be Truss’ first outing as party leader at the annual event, where the economy and ongoing turmoil are expected to dominate much of the agenda.