Liz Truss demanded cuts to corporation tax as she delivered a dramatic speech to Tory activists at conference.
The former PM urged Rishi Sunak to show he is ‘hungry’ to get firms thriving as she joined ex-Cabinet ministers Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-Mogg at the fringe event.
She told a packed crowd in Manchester – with Nigel Farage in the front row attending his first Conservative conference for years – that the Government must ‘axe the tax’ and build more affordable housing.
‘Let’s be prepared to make Conservative arguments again,’ she said. ‘Let’s make Britain grow again.’
However, the message has already been dismissed by Jeremy Hunt, who toured broadcast studios this morning warning that he cannot bring in significant tax cuts this year and refused to promise any before the election.
Liz Truss demanded tax cuts to kick-start business as she delivered a rallying cry to Tory activists at conference
The former PM urged Rishi Sunak to show he is ‘hungry’ to get firms thriving as she joined ex-Cabinet ministers (right to left) Jacob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel and Ranil Jayawardena at the fringe event
Rishi Sunak is bracing for a storm at Tory conference today with a host of rebels set to challenge his stance on tax
Polling has suggested many Brits feel the Truss government bungled the implementation of its economic policies, rather than having the wrong policies
Speaking at the Great British Growth Rally event – the busiest yet at the conference – Ms Truss said: ‘I’m calling upon the Chancellor at the Autumn Statement to put corporation tax back down to 19 per cent.
‘And frankly, if we can get it lower, the better
‘What we know is that economic growth and making Britain grow again is not going to be delivered by the Treasury. It’s not going to be delivered by more public spending. It’s not going to be delivered by more regulation.
‘It is going to be delivered by giving business the freedom they need to succeed.’
Ms Truss also complained about the scale of current Government spending, saying ‘it has not been higher since the 1970s’.
‘And in fact it was lower for most of the 1970s, apart from 1975,’ she said.
‘So we need to acknowledge that Government is too big, taxes are too high and we are spending too much.’
Calling on Conservatives to ‘bring these arguments home to people’, she said: ‘Let’s be prepared to make conservative arguments again.
‘Let’s stop taxing and banning things. Let’s instead build things and make things. Let’s be prepared to make conservative arguments again, even if it’s unpopular, even if it’s difficult. I want everybody in this room to unleash their inner conservative.
‘And finally, my friends let’s make Britain grow again.’
Ms Truss also waded into the row over housing – which has been pitching shire Tories who are nervous of more construction against Red Wall MPs.
‘While lots of MPs talk about building more homes, it’s very difficult to actually get them to vote for reducing the regulation that’s stopping the homes being built,’ she said.
‘It’s all about protecting newts or installing a bat bridge. That appears to be the priority rather than building homes.’
She said she wanted to ‘turbocharge the incentives’ by giving local areas tax breaks if they are prepared to ‘get rid of that red tape’.
The PM has kicked off the pre-election gathering in Manchester insisting he is making progress on his five missions – including bringing down inflation and stopping Channel boats.
But leadership hopefuls are already jostling for position in case Mr Sunak is unable to stave off the threat from Labour, with Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch both taking tough positions on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
During interviews this morning, Mr Hunt said the government must prioritise tackling inflation – and warned that he did not know if the public finances will allow cuts before the election.
He told GB News: ‘The way you win elections is by making promises people believe. We’re being honest with people, there is no short cut to tax cuts.
‘If I gave a big tax cut this year, it would be inflationary, because we’d be putting money in people’s pockets, which would boost up demand, which would ultimately mean prices would go up as well. So this is not the right time.’
The Chancellor said: ‘I don’t think it’s going to be possible to do any big tax cuts, on the basis first of all of the public finances as we see them… but also it would compromise our battle against inflation.
‘No tax cuts are possible in a substantial tax way at the moment, so it’s not just inheritance tax, it’s income tax, it’s all the different tax cuts that people look at. If we start having big tax cuts it would be inflationary.’
Asked if he believes it will be Mr Sunak’s first and last conference as Tory leader, Mr Hunt said ‘no, I don’t’ before praising his ‘formidable’ talents, hard-working nature and ability to ‘cut through really difficult problems’.
The Chancellor insisted to Times Radio he has been ‘completely cured’ of any ambitions to enter No 10 himself.
Mr Hunt will use his conference speech to announce tougher rules on benefits and a boost to the national living wage as part of a Tory plan to get more people into work.
He will promise the national living wage will increase to at least £11 an hour from April.
But alongside that he will look again at the benefit sanctions regime to make it harder for people to claim welfare while refusing to take ‘active steps’ to move into work, with proposals due to be set out in November’s Autumn Statement.
With Mr Hunt insisting that tax cuts in the Autumn Statement are unlikely, the Tories would have the option of a giveaway at a possible full Budget in the spring before any election in 2024.
Philip van Scheltinga from polling firm Redfield & Wilton Strategies told MailOnline that the public had not been against Ms Truss’s policies in principle.
‘There is a narrative out there that what Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng did with the mini budget was unpopular with the public, not just with the markets. That’s simply wrong,’ he said.
‘In fact, their policies were initially supported by the public and would still be supported by the public if enacted again today.
‘Rather, the public saw how the markets reacted and then did not see the Prime Minister for several days. Her failure was in implementation and communication, not in policy.’
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt toured broadcast studios this morning ahead of his keynote speech, but insisted that significant tax cuts are not happening this year
The main speech at the conference will be from Mr Hunt, who will confirm plans to boost the wages of the lowest paid on the second day of the Manchester gathering
The main speech at the conference will be from Mr Hunt, who will confirm plans to boost the wages of the lowest paid on the second day of the Manchester gathering.
The Conservatives said the move will benefit two million people and follows the target for the national living wage to reach two-thirds of median hourly pay by October next year.
The Low Pay Commission estimates the rate required to meet that goal should be between £10.90 and £11.43, with a central estimate of £11.16.
The increase will mean the national living wage will increase by more than £1,000 for a full-time worker next year.
Mr Hunt and Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride are expected to use November’s Autumn Statement to set out tough welfare reforms.
‘I am incredibly proud to live in a country where, as Churchill said, there’s a ladder everyone can climb but also a safety net below which no-one falls,’ Mr Hunt will say.
‘But paying for that safety net is a social contract that depends on fairness to those in work alongside compassion to those who are not.
‘As part of that we will look at the way the sanctions regime works. It is a fundamental matter of fairness.
‘Those who won’t even look for work do not deserve the same benefits as people trying hard to do the right thing.’
On the conference fringe, Ms Truss will address a rally with a focus on boosting growth – a key theme of her short-lived premiership a year ago.
‘There is no reason we cannot go into the next election with a platform that is proudly Conservative,’ she will say. ‘Let’s stop taxing and banning things, and start producing and building things.’