Truss to pledge to 'unleash the full potential of our great country' in conference speech

UK prime minister has experienced baptism of fire and will be looking to get policy dissenters back on side

Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss is to address the annual Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on Wednesday. AFP
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In her first Conservative Party conference speech as leader, Liz Truss is on Wednesday set to acknowledge that her plans to reshape Britain will cause “disruption” but there will be no more “drift and delay” in efforts to boost the economy.

The prime minister will defend her “new approach”, which will “unleash the full potential of our great country”.

After an about-turn over a totemic tax policy, Cabinet dissent and the threat of another major split over the level of benefits, the prime minister has a tough task to restore Tory morale.

She will tell activists in Birmingham that she hopes to create a “new Britain for a new era”, with an unashamedly pro-growth agenda — even though not everyone will be in favour of her methods.

“For too long, our economy has not grown as strongly as it should have done,” Ms Truss will say.

“For too long, the political debate has been dominated by how we distribute a limited economic pie. Instead, we need to grow the pie so that everyone gets a bigger slice.

“That is why I am determined to take a new approach and break us out of this high-tax, low-growth cycle. That is what our plan is about: getting our economy growing and rebuilding Britain through reform.”

British Prime Minister Liz Truss — in pictures

Elements of Ms Truss’s plan were set out in Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, which led to market turbulence and an eventual backtrack on the plan to scrap the 45p rate of income tax for top earners.

But she will double down on her gamble in search of economic growth, arguing that it is the best route out of the current storm.

“The scale of the challenge is immense,” she will say.

“War in Europe for the first time in a generation. A more uncertain world in the aftermath of Covid. And a global economic crisis.

“That is why in Britain we need to do things differently.

“Whenever there is change, there is disruption. Not everyone will be in favour.

“But everyone will benefit from the result — a growing economy and a better future. That is what we have a clear plan to deliver.”

Liz Truss's political career — in pictures

Alongside measures to boost growth, the prime minister will insist she will keep an iron grip on the nation’s finances, with a leaner state offering value for taxpayers’ money.

“This is a great country. But I know that we can do better and we must do better,” she will say.

“We have huge talent across the country. We’re not making enough of it. To deliver this, we need to get Britain moving. We cannot have any more drift and delay at this vital time.”

Speaking on Sky News on Wednesday morning before Ms Truss's conference speech, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly dismissed concerns about her leadership

"What we are looking to do is to get growth into the economy," he said. "I am sure the prime minister is going to be making that point in her speech.

"The chancellor made that point when he spoke to conference. It’s about getting growth. When you have growth you can fund the public services. You can fund the support packages to families looking to cover their energy bills and the people that need our help."

He said what they now need to do was "lay out what we are doing, why we are doing it, why growth is so important, why we are going to give support for energy bills and tax cuts to 30 million people".

"We now need to get the conversation back on to those."

Updated: October 05, 2022, 7:36 AM