By David Hughes, AP Political Editor
Liz Truss said she would make the ‘tough but necessary’ choices to achieve economic growth but was heckled by environmental activists during her first conference speech as Conservative leader.
The Prime Minister has promised to guide the country through the ‘storm’ and ‘get Britain moving’.
Greenpeace protesters holding a flag that reads ‘who voted for this? were kicked out of the room after interrupting the speech, with Ms Truss ordering security guards to ‘get them removed’.
Environmental activists have been identified by Ms Truss as ‘enemies of business’ as part of an ‘anti-growth coalition’ comprising opposition parties, trade unions and ‘Brexit deniers’.
The interruption to her speech in Birmingham followed a deadly lecture for Ms Truss after just a month on the job, including a U-turn on totemic tax policy and dissent within her Cabinet.
Despite the decision to scrap plans to scrap the top 45p tax rate, Ms Truss insisted ‘we must stay the course’ in pursuit of her three priorities: ‘Growth, growth and growth’.
She told the audience: “This mission will be difficult but necessary. We have no alternative if we want to revive the growth of our economy.
“I am ready to make difficult choices. You can trust me to do the right thing.
“The status quo is not an option. This is why we cannot give in to the voices of decline.
Outlining her vision, she said: “Growth means more money in people’s pockets and for businesses that create jobs.
“Growth means people can feel secure and plan for their future. Basically, it empowers people to achieve their hopes and dreams.
In a show of support for Kwasi Kwarteng following the 45p U-turn humiliation, Ms Truss said she was ‘in tune’ with her ‘dynamic’ chancellor.
She said: “Cutting taxes is the right thing to do morally and economically.
“Morally, because the state does not spend its own money. He spends the people.
“Economically, because if people keep more of their own money, they are inspired to do more of what they do best.”
A low-tax economy was a sign that “Britain is open for business”, she said.
But in a bid to calm markets which had been spooked by Mr Kwarteng’s mini-budget, Ms Truss vowed to ‘keep an iron grip on the nation’s finances’.
“I believe in sound money and a lean state,” she said.
“I remember my shock opening my first paycheck to see how much money the taxman had withdrawn. I know that sentiment is replicated across the country.
“That’s why we always have to be careful with taxpayers’ money.”
The pound wiped out its gains from earlier in the day, losing value against the US dollar, following the speech.
Government borrowing costs, known as gilt yields, also rose, with 10-year gilt yields rising nearly 4% on Wednesday afternoon.
Rising interest rates are also likely to spell hardship for homeowners, but Ms Truss stressed the independence of the Bank of England on the matter.
But she said “the Chancellor and the Governor will continue to closely coordinate our monetary and fiscal policy.”
She also promised reforms to reduce bureaucracy, promising, “Now is the time to harness the power of free enterprise to transform our country and ensure our best days lie ahead.
In a message to the public, she said “we have your back” and she was “working hard to get people through this crisis”.
She said the queen’s death and the king’s succession heralded a “new era”, but warned: “These are stormy days”.
Ms Truss added: “We are facing the global economic crisis caused by Covid and by (Vladimir) Putin’s appalling war in Ukraine.
“In these difficult times, we must mobilize. I am determined to get Britain moving, to get us through the storm and put us on a stronger footing as a nation.
But in a sign of the difficulties she faces, shortly before her speech, YouGov released a poll suggesting Ms Truss is already more unpopular than her predecessor Boris Johnson or former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn ever was.
Only 14% of the public now say they have a favorable impression of the Prime Minister compared to 26% who said so between September 21 and 22.
Almost three-quarters – 73% – now view the Prime Minister in an unfavorable light, including more than half – 55% – who view her very unfavorably.
Responding to the speech, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “The Tory economic crisis we face was created in Downing Street, paid for by working people facing higher mortgages and soaring costs.
“Liz Truss has been a government minister for 10 years. She was central to building a conservative economy that led to the stable wages and low growth she highlighted today. »
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: “The Tories have lost control of the economy, causing sky-high mortgage payments, soaring inflation and a growing cost-of-living emergency. “