‘Laughing all way to bank’: Sturgeon takes just minutes to twist knife over crisis budget

Nicola Sturgeon has taken just minutes to fire her anger at the Government over the mini budget announcements this morning. The First Minister of Scotland said following the statement to the House of Commons even many of the country’s “super wealthy” would be “appalled by the moral bankruptcy of the Tories”.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng took to the despatch box this morning to lay out his economic package for the nation just weeks after Liz Truss’s new administration took over.

He vowed to scrap the highest rate of income tax for top earners, and reduced the basic rate to 19 percent – which Scottish Tories are calling for the devolved Government to follow suit.

The rise in national insurance proposed under Boris Johnson has also been cancelled, which the Treasury said would benefit 2.3 million people in Scotland.

His announcements came as the UK faces massive inflation and a squeezed cost of living for many, on the backdrop of an energy crisis and a war in Europe.

But Ms Sturgeon took issue with the Chancellor’s focus on handing money back to already high earners while many working families struggle.

In a tweet, the First Minister said that “the super wealthy laughing all the way to the actual bank (though I suspect many of them will also be appalled by the moral bankruptcy of the Tories) while increasing numbers of the rest relying on food banks”.

She added that this was “all thanks to the incompetence and recklessness” of the UK Government.

John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, who is responsible for the finance brief while Finance Secretary Kate Forbes is on maternity leave, said Mr Kwarteng’s statement would be “cold comfort to the millions of people across Scotland who have been looking for the UK Government to use their reserved powers to provide support for those that need it most”.

He added: “Instead we get tax cuts for the rich and nothing for those who need it most.

“We estimate that the increase in the price cap to £2,500 will force an estimated 150,000 more Scottish households into extreme fuel poverty.

“Instead of offering these people support, the Chancellor is threatening to cut their family budgets further, with a new regime of benefit sanctions.”

The growth plan, Mr Swinney said, will only lead to “growth in inequality”.

This morning, Mr Kwarteng also announced that he would be scrapping the cap on bankers’ bonuses in a bid to drive growth, as well as implementing a plan to make 120,000 more people on universal credit take steps to secure work by threatening to reduce their benefits.

He also made reference to the earlier announcement of a two-year freeze on household energy bills.

The Chancellor said while an increase in jobs, wages and public funding “will not happen overnight”, the statement sent a clear signal “that growth is our priority”.

He said: “The fiscal strength of the UK Government has allowed thousands of businesses in Scotland to keep more of their own money to invest, innovate, and grow.”

Mr Kwarteng added: “In doing so, our growth plan sets the whole United Kingdom on the path for growth, building on the strength of our Union and releasing the enormous potential of this country.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the UK Government “is delivering for the people of Scotland when it really matters”.

Though income tax in Scotland is collected by HMRC, following a series of acts of devolution income tax rates are set by the Scottish Government. The tax is also paid to the Scottish Government.

Currently, Scotland has a minimum rate of 19 percent and a higher rate of 46 percent on earnings above £150,000 a year.

The Scottish Tories are now urging Ms Sturgeon’s administration to make a similar move on income tax rates.

Liz Smith MSP, the party’s Scottish shadow secretary for finance, said: “The Chancellor has given a welcome shot in the arm to the UK economy with his support for hard-pressed taxpayers squeezed by the global cost-of-living crisis.

“The package of measures he announced equates to a £630 million boost for Scotland and now it’s up to the SNP Government to get on board with his growth plan which would cut taxes for 2.4 million Scots.

“It is wrong that Scots already pay higher tax than their counterparts in the rest of the UK and, unless the SNP match these tax cuts, that gap is going to widen, which will further hamper Scotland’s already poor productivity and competitiveness.”

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  • 15 минут назад 04.10.2022Politics
    Kwasi Kwarteng admits tax cuts sparked ‘turbulence’ over past 10 days

    Kwasi Kwarteng urged Tories to “focus on the task in hand” as he battled to restore his authority as Chancellor after a dramatic U-turn over tax cuts for the rich. Just hours before his set piece speech at the Conservative Party conference Mr Kwarteng abandoned his plan to scrap the 45p income tax rate for people earning more than £150,000 to stave off a mounting Tory revolt. Addressing the audience in Birmingham he acknowledged it had been a “tough” day but promised there would be no more distractions.

    Downing Street said Prime Minister Liz Truss – who was in the audience for the speech – continues to have confidence in Mr Kwarteng, despite the humiliating decision to drop the tax cut.

    Mr Kwarteng told activists: “What a day. It has been tough but we need to focus on the job in hand.

    “We need to move forward, no more distractions, we have a plan and we need to get on and deliver it.”

    He acknowledged “the plan put forward only 10 days ago has caused a little turbulence”.

    The Chancellor’s mini-budget triggered turmoil in the City, was criticised by the International Monetary Fund and resulted in a £65 billion emergency intervention by the Bank of England to restore order.

    But it was the 45p rate which attracted the biggest political backlash, with the Tories viewed as offering help to the rich while the country faced a cost-of-living crisis.

    “I get it. I get it,” Mr Kwarteng said.

    “We are listening and have listened, and now I want to focus on delivering the major parts of our growth package.”

    Mr Kwarteng used his speech to defend the Government’s plan to cut taxes in the search for economic growth.

    Despite the U-turn on the 45p rate, Mr Kwarteng is still committed to taking 1p off the basic rate of income tax, reversing April’s increase in national insurance and scrapping the planned increase in corporation tax.

    The Chancellor told the conference: “While we all believe in growth, we as Conservatives also believe that it is an important principle that people should keep more of the money they earn.

    “I don’t need to tell you that. That isn’t radical, that isn’t irresponsible. It is a deeply held belief that we all share as Conservatives.

    “We were faced with a 70-year high tax burden. We were confronted with low growth and the path we were on was clearly unsustainable. So that’s why we’re cutting taxes for working people.”

    He earlier acknowledged that the Government’s desire to borrow billions to axe the 45p rate on earnings over £150,000 had become a “terrible distraction” amid widespread criticism.

    Shortly before he had been due to tell the conference they must “stay the course” on the plans, he issued a statement saying: “We are not proceeding with the abolition of the 45p tax rate.”

    “We get it, and we have listened,” he added, in language echoed in a tweet from the Prime Minister less than 24 hours after she said she remained absolutely committed to the cut.

  • 15 минут назад 04.10.2022Politics
    Liz Truss ‘betrayed conservatism’ by being ‘laziest left-wing caricature’ of Tory

    Liz Truss has been accused of “betraying conservatism” by adopting the “laziest Left-wing caricatures of Toryism” as her “roadmap”. Less than a month into the role, some commentators are suggesting the Prime Minister could already be leading her party towards defeat.

    The former Liberal Democrat is likely hoping her party’s conference will help to cover over cracks which have appeared in her first weeks as office.

    But some are suggesting the Prime Minister’s troubles lie deeper than her response to the fast-paced issues of the day.

    UnHerd Foreign Affairs Editor Aris Roussinos has argued is it Ms Truss’s vision – or lack thereof – that is pushing the Conservative Party towards electoral defeat.

    He described the Tory leader as “a career politician who seems to view the laziest Left-wing caricatures of Toryism as a political roadmap: a pure zealot of unrestrained capital with no vision of the good beyond libertarian think tank pamphlets and a burning faith in the might and power of the market’s invisible hand”.

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    This line echoes that of Brexiteer and trade unionist Paul Embery who last week argued the Prime Minister was “listening to” free market groups like the Institute for Economic Affairs rather than social conservative commentators like Nick Timothy.

    He added that, having done this, the party has “alienated their new electoral constituency”.

    Mr Embery’s comments followed the publication of data which suggested the Tory party has moved further from its base since 2019.

    Analysis by the Financial Times suggested that Tory voters are typically more left wing when it comes to economics and more traditional regarding social values.

    It added that since the 2019 election, after which Boris Johnson thanked so-called ‘Red Wall’ voters for lending the Tory party their support, the Tories have moved further away from their voters, becoming more right wing economically and more progressive regarding social values.

    Even before this shift, the parliamentary party was some distance from its voter base, according to the FT research.

    Mr Roussinos commented: “The Conservatives were elected on a simple mandate to reform Britain’s failing economic model and slash our current, record-high levels of immigration; instead, Truss is doubling down on both.”

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    The Prime Minister is considering further loosening immigration rules in an attempt to boost the economy, according to reports.

    A Number 10 source told the Sun: “We need to put measures in place so that we have the right skills that the economy, including the rural economy, needs to stimulate growth.

    “That will involve increasing numbers in some areas and decreasing in others. As the Prime Minister has made clear, we also want to see people who are economically inactive get back into work.”

    Any such plan would likely prompt anger across many areas of the UK, with voters repeatedly expressing their frustration over years of high immigration numbers into the country.

    Brexit is argued to have become a byword for immigration in the run-up to the 2016 vote, pointing to the salience of the topic.

    Writing on her first weeks in power, Mr Roussinos concluded that “in choosing Truss, the Conservative Party chose to make the Tory case for Labour”.

  • 15 минут назад 04.10.2022Politics
    Beleaguered PM Liz Truss dealt another blow as new poll sees Labour grab 25-point lead

    Liz Truss has been dealt another devastating blow for her leadership while at the Tory conference in Birmingham as a new poll has revealed Labour has a 25-point lead over her party. On a day where the Prime Minister had to cave in to demands she ditch plans to scrap the 45p income tax top rate, the poll by Savanta ComRes put Labour on 50 points – up seven to the Tories’ 25 points – which was down four.

    The ComRes findings follow two late last week which also suggested the Tories are heading for an election wipeout.

    YouGov gave Labour an unprecedented 33 point lead which would leave the Conservatives on a mere three seats according to the prediction website Electoral Calculus.

    Meanwhile, the Techne UK tracker poll for Express.co.uk gave Labour a 20 point lead which would leave the Tories with just 113 seats, worse than their outcome in the 1997 general election when Tony Blair woon a 179 seat majority.

    Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta ComRes said: “Large Labour leads are now becoming commonplace, and this 25pt lead is the largest in Savanta ComRes history.

    “If this played out at a General Election, the Conservative Party could be pretty much wiped out, and Labour would have such a commanding lead it could put the Conservatives out of power for generations.”

    According to Electoral Calculus if the ComRes poll was the result in an election, Liz Truss’ party would be reduced to 32 seats while Labour would have 526 giving Sir Keir Starmer a majority of 402.

    This would enable Labour to take the UK back into the EU unopposed without needing to get help from the Lib Dems or SNP.

    Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,113 UK adults aged over 18 online from 30 September – 2 October before Ms Truss performed her U-turn on 45p rate.

    The decision though has sent Tories into a tailspin at their conference in Birmingham with different factions criticising the Government for making the policy in the first place oor dropping the policy.

    Questions have been asked about the future of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng with Brexiteer Sir John Redwood being proposed as a replacement.

    Ms Truss has found herself under siege from supporters of her rival former Chancellor Rishi Sunak led by Michael Gove and Grant Shapps.

    Gove and Shapps engineered a rebellion against cutting the 45p rate yesterday which meant that the Prime Minister was staring at a defeat in Parliament.

    Meanwhile, former cabinet minister Nadine Dorries, who supported Ms Truss’ leadership bid, has also attacked her and demanded she call an election.

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  • 15 минут назад 04.10.2022Politics
    ‘We will reward your trust’: Liz Truss sticks with tax-cutting plan as PM pledges growth

    In a personal message to Express readers, the Prime Minister admitted it has not been an “easy” week but promised to reward their trust in her. Ms Truss told Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng the row was overshadowing the rest of their work to reinvigorate the economy and she did not want to still be talking about it at Christmas.

    She is sticking with the rest of the tax-cutting growth package and is adamant it is the only way to turn the country around.

    But details of how the government will cut debt are now expected to be produced earlier than previously expected.

    Ms Truss said: “Express readers can rest assured: we will reward your trust.

    “It has not been an easy week, but we have shown that we listen to people’s concerns and we are determined to deliver on our core plan for economic success and security.

    “Our plan for growth is essential to get the British economy moving. Growth is the only way to create jobs, boost wages and fund our vital public services like the NHS.

    “With our Energy Price Guarantee, we are supporting families and businesses with their energy bills.

    “With our tax cuts, we will put money back in the pockets of hard-working people and grow our economy.

    “With our investment plans, we will unleash the potential of the whole country and get Britain moving.

    “This is the best country in the world and I will do what it takes to put us on the path to a more secure, prosperous future.”

    Ms Truss will deliver a “short, sharp, optimistic” speech of about 30 minutes to the conference tomorrow (WED) but will tackle the realities of the challenges the country is facing.

    The Prime Minister is expected to strike a similar tone to the Chancellor, who opened his speech with “what a day!” before urging the party to move forward.

    She is resolute in her belief that the only strategy that will give Britain a more successful future is going full pelt for growth.

    The PM is intent on unleashing a vast building and infrastructure programme across the country that will be delivered as soon as possible.

    Friends of the Prime Minister have been left frustrated by the “fear of change” the party has developed.

    They say there are great rewards to be reaped from Brexit but a risk-averse mindset is stopping them from being capitalised on.

    Allies say she has shown she will take decisions that go against her small state instincts to protect people, such as through the multi-billion pound intervention to keep down the country’s energy bills.

    But she is expected to use her speech to the party’s grassroots in Birmingham to vow that her plan will generate growth across the country.

    The Prime Minister will stress she wants the government to “get out of the way” of businesses trying to grow but also by leaving individuals to make their own decisions about their lives.

    One Cabinet minister said the move was a “sensible retreat” and wars are won from the flank rather than head-on assault.

    Veteran Conservatives believe the party must stop wild talk of leadership challenges.

    But the 2019 intake of younger MPs have been sharing messages about the Prime Minister’s future.

    Allies of the PM believe they are too easily blown about by the wind and need to hold firm.

    Ex-Brexit negotiator Lord Frost advised the PM to “err away from things we know are going to be highly controversial and the losers are going to be extremely visible”.

    He recommended relaxing trade tariffs and reducing regulation of small businesses as policies that would not “obviously create a coalition of losers more quickly than they would create a coalition of winners”.

    Lord Frost said: “You can’t simply throw out a load of free market reform ideas and assume everyone will just get with the programme.

    “There needs to be much more explanation, much more effort to persuade, to make the arguments, to bring people along with you, to understand why the arteries have kind of furred up over the last decade or two and need to be cleaned out again.”

    Economist Gerard Lyons, who has been an informal adviser to Ms Truss, said the economy would “probably be on the way up” by 2024 and the Government had plenty of time to demonstrate the impact of its policies.

    He said: “The policies need to be registered by the end of the next year.

    “You still have two and a quarter years, probably, until the next election.

    “January 2025 is when the election needs to be held by and I wouldn’t be surprised if we actually went the full distance and we basically therefore have a year of economic growth in 2024.”

    Nadine Dorries, who backed Ms Truss for the Conservative Party leadership, said Ms Truss should call a general election if she wants to break away from the policies put in place under Boris Johnson.

    She said there was “widespread dismay at the fact that three years of work has effectively been put on hold”.

    “If Liz wants a whole new mandate, she must take to the country.”

    But Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said while they agreed on “almost everything” with Ms Dorries he did not think “there’s going to be an immediate election and I don’t think there’s a requirement for one.”

  • 15 минут назад 04.10.2022Politics
    Johnny Mercer launches blistering attack on Truss as he breaks silence after sacking

    Johnny Mercer has launched a furious tirade against Liz Truss a month on from his sacking. The Plymouth Moor View MP was removed as veterans affairs minister during a major Government reshuffle by the Prime Minister last month.

    In a Facebook post this evening, Mr Mercer admitted he had found the “recent turn of events surprisingly tougher to deal with than I expected”.

    In a blistering attack as the Tory conference in Birmingham is underway, the former soldier said: “Of course I have a view on what is going on in Government, and you can guess what it is.

    “You know I will not accept budgets like the one we saw last week.

    “It is hard watching these rather comedic figures masquerading as Government Ministers sprawling around in the media.”

    Mr Mercer vowed to speak out in the Commons and defiantly added that the Tories can “do whatever they like with the whip”.

    He said: “It is deeply unfunny for normal people, and I will waste no time in letting them know in the Commons at the first opportunity.

    “I will not support anything that doesn’t help the brilliant people of Plymouth through intensely difficult times – they can do whatever they like with the whip.”

    Mr Mercer continued: “Yes, veterans have been a large part of my work, but achieving tangible things for Plymouth has always been my higher priority, although I accept I have not always demonstrated that enough, and now I have a chance to really go to town on both in my remaining time in office.”

    It comes after Mr Mercer’s wife branded Ms Truss an “imbecile” in an outburst the day of his sacking on September 6.

    Felicity Cornelius-Mercer tweeted a picture mocking the Prime Minister as a character from The Muppets TV show.

    She said: “He asked her ‘why would you do this, who is going to be better at this role than me, which of your mates gets the job, you promised a meritocracy?’

    “PM – I can’t answer that Johnny. This system stinks and treats people appallingly. Best person I know sacked by an imbecile Liz Truss.”

    Mr Mercer, who did not say who he was backing in the Tory leadership race over the summer, had tweeted a lengthy statement saying he was “disappointed” but accepted the Prime Minister is “entitled to reward her supporters”.

    He also suggested he could quit the Commons, saying: “I have to accept that I will never possess the qualities required for enduring success in politics as it stands, and to be fair to my wonderful family, I must consider my future.”

    He added: “I will be spending time with my family and doing no media requests.”

  • 15 минут назад 04.10.2022Politics
    Defiant Kwarteng comes out fighting with bold tax cuts plan and bonfire of EU rules

    A defiant Kwasi Kwarteng vowed to “get Britain moving” as he made an unashamed defence of his plan for growth. The Chancellor promised to unleash the potential of the UK by ripping up EU bureaucracy and bringing down the tax burden.

    He told Tory members it had been a “tough” day after he was forced to U-turn on his plan to scrap the top 45p rate of income tax amid outrage from Conservative backbenchers.

    Mr Kwarteng said he had changed course after listening to the anger among the party but that it was now “time to get on and deliver”.

    The Spelthorne MP defended his plans to cut taxes saying it “isn’t radical, isn’t irresponsible” to believe it is right for Britons to keep more of their money.

    Standing firm on his plan to get 2.5 percent growth, he told those gathered at the party’s annual conference in Birmingham: “It has been tough but we need to focus on the job in hand.

    “We need to move forward, no more distractions, we have a plan and we need to get on and deliver it.”

    He added: “While we all believe in growth, we as Conservatives also believe that it is an important principle that people should keep more of the money they earn.

    “I don’t need to tell you that. That isn’t radical, that isn’t irresponsible. It is a deeply held belief that we all share as Conservatives.

    “We were faced with a 70-year high tax burden. We were confronted with low growth and the path we were on was clearly unsustainable. So that’s why we’re cutting taxes for working people.”

    Seeking the make a clear divide between the Conservatives and Labour, he added that only his party could be trusted to get the nation back on its feet.

    “Last week we saw a Labour Party with the same old ideas: re-nationalisation, empty slogans, no plan for growth. But we as Conservatives believe in Britain,” he said as Prime Minister Liz Truss listened from the front row.

    “We have challenges to face but our plan will take this country forward, we will get Britain moving, we will deliver lower taxes for you and your family, and we will grow our economy.

    “I know we can achieve that goal. With grit, with drive and with determination, we can meet the challenges of this new era.”

    The Chancellor said that as well as reducing taxes to make the UK a more attractive place for investment, he would rip unnecessary business regulations imposed on the UK by Brussels when it was an EU member.

    In his conference speech, he said: “Too often regulation holds business and Britain back, stifling red tape puts up too many barriers for entrepreneurs looking to scale up.

    “There are too many rules for small business owners who want to take on an apprentice.

    “There are too many burdens on our finance sector, stopping it from investing in key projects.

    “When Britain’s innovators, job creators, entrepreneurs and risk takers are held back, so is Britain. That is why we will review, replace or repeal retained EU law holding our country back.”

    His speech was met with a standing ovation from Conservative members, despite his tax-cutting mini-budget from earlier this month having overshadowed most of the party conference so far.

    The markets panicked after the man in charge of the Treasury announced his plans in the House of Commons 10 days ago. It led to a run on the pound and an emergency intervention from the Bank of England to prop up the economy.

    The Conservatives have consequently seen their ratings in the opinion polls tank.

    “The Tories have destroyed their economic credibility and damaged trust in the British economy,” shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said.

    “This is not over – it’s not just some distraction.”

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