Liz Truss shut down by Beth Rigby over benefits row
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Andrew Neil has described disarray in Liz Truss’s Government as farcical after confusion over the publication of a crucial financial statement. The presenter of Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Show wrote today on Twitter: “Disarray in Team Truss becomes farcical.”
He continued: “Huge confusion over crucial financial statement meant to reassure markets.
“It’s coming forward. No, still November 23rd. No, we’re just saying that because we haven’t fixed new date yet. No it’s 23rd.
“Masterclass in how not to reassure.”
Mr Neil’s scathing remarks came after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng told the Conservative Party conference he would publish his tax plan and Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts “shortly”.
His allies had been hinting this meant bringing the publications forward from November 23 to this month.
But Ms Truss told GB News the originally planned date is when her Government is going to set out the OBR forecasts and its medium-term fiscal plan.
Downing Street aides said only that Ms Truss may consider bringing the date forward, reducing the likelihood of the move.
Then, in a separate GB News interview, Mr Kwarteng denied he was changing his plan, saying “shortly is the 23rd”. He suggested people had been “reading the runes” incorrectly.
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Hopes of more clarity about the Government’s fiscal plans and the potential for the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) publishing its influential economic forecast before originally thought may have soothed the nerves of investors earlier today.
Tory backbencher Mel Stride, chair of the Treasury Select Committee, told BBC News that releasing the fiscal plan and forecast sooner than November 23 could also take pressure off the Bank of England to hike interest rates.
He said less aggressive rate increases could help millions of people with their mortgages.
The pound rallied to a two-week high after reports the Chancellor would bring forward his debt plan and economic forecast.
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Sterling edged above 1.14 US dollars this morning (October 4).
The pound was last up 0.75 percent at $1.1409, falling slightly off a session high of $1.1428.
It comes as Ms Truss battles to maintain Cabinet discipline with Tory critics who forced her U-turn on slashing income tax for the highest earners accused of a “coup”.
Members of the Cabinet have been publicly urging the PM to raise benefits in line with inflation and questioning her climbdown on the 45 percent rate for earnings over £150,000.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she felt disappointed by Mr Kwarteng and Ms Truss’s mid-conference tax U-turn. She accused Tory rebels of staging a coup.
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, another former leadership contender, said it makes sense to increase benefits in line with soaring inflation rather than deliver a real-terms cut.
Ms Truss is instead considering a rise in line with the far lower figure of earnings, but she said she would not be sacking Ms Mordaunt for publicly stating her firm stance.
It led Mr Neil to write on Twitter: “Collective responsibility of the Truss Cabinet crumbling before our very eyes.
“Suella Braverman clearly sour that Truss U-turned on 45p tax rate.
“Penny Mordaunt and Robert Buckland argue openly for index-linking the rise in benefits.”
Jon Sopel, who co-hosts podcast The News Agents, said ministers are “spilling out their differences” without any regard to collective cabinet responsibility.
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