Liz Truss sent a warning shot to Boris Johnson over tax rises and Lidl shoppers who may find themselves struggling to afford the weekly shop
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
The Tories could lose the next election if they fail to ensure poor Brits’ lives are “getting better”, a top Cabinet minister has warned.
But she stopped short of saying the answer was to stop the benefit cut.
Instead free marketeer Ms Truss said the answer was to ensure free trade and competition to keep prices low.
She claimed that for the poorest 10% of Brits, if the UK didn’t have international trade, “their net income would halve”.
And despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak raising taxes to their highest in decades, and firmly kicking any tax cuts into the long grass, she said: “I am a low tax Tory and the Chancellor is a low tax Tory as well – and we want to bring down the tax burden.”
Ms Truss told a Tory conference fringe she “shops regularly” at discount supermarket Lidl because “as a Yorkshirewoman I love a bargain.”
She told the event hosted by the Centre for Policy Studies: “They do some very good wine actually, obviously from my favourite countries like Chile and Australia.”
The Cabinet minister warned the party needed to have a “laser-like focus” on people’s living standards and opportunities going into the next election.
She said: “When we get to 2024, or whenever the election is – and I’m not making any predictions – what people will care about is: do they feel their lives are getting better, are the prospects in my area better, are there job opportunities, are new enterprises thriving, am I able to afford to buy more each week to feed my family?
“That’s what most people think about when they come to elections.
“So I think we’ve got to have a laser-like focus on making sure life is getting better for people.”
She added: “I am a low-tax Tory, and the Chancellor is a low-tax Tory as well and we want to bring down the tax burden.
“The best way to do that is to get economic growth going.”
Meanwhile Ms Truss hit back at other Tories’ claims that right-wing voices are being ‘cancelled’ or ‘silenced’.
Asked if she thought the UK is becoming a less free country in terms of what you can say, she replied: “No I don’t.
“And I think if you compare the debate in the UK over some of the so-called ‘woke’ agenda – it’s not a word I particularly like, but let’s call it that – compared with the debate in other countries, actually I think the debate here in Britain is freer, and we are able to have those conversations in a way that is less pejorative and less divisive than it is elsewhere around the world.
“And I think that speaks to our tradition of free speech and reasoned debate and a free press.
“I don’t think we should be complacent – I do concern myself about the creeping illiberalism we’re seeing from some sections of politics. I think it’s depressing that Labour MPs essentially have to have security at own conference.”
Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger had police protection at conference in 2018, while Rosie Duffield said she would not attend the 2021 conference after being told her views on trans rights could make her a target.