No sign of U-turn as Truss admits to ‘disruption’ following tax-cutting package

The prime minister will face questions from her party at the Conservative Party conference after a week of economic turmoil. Shehab Khan reports.

Liz Truss has shown no signs of backtracking on any aspects of her tax-cutting package after Friday’s meeting between her, the chancellor and the Office of Budget Responsibility in a bid to reassure markets after days of turmoil.

In an interview with broadcasters in north-west Kent, the prime minister sought to defend the decision not to publish a forecast from the independent spending watchdog until November 23.

Earlier, both Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng – under fire from economists, the opposition and some Tory MPs after the debacle of recent days – promised to “work closely” with the OBR and said “scrutiny” is valued.

The prime minister and chancellor rejected calls for the early publication of the Office for Budget Responsibility's forecast, instead confirming it will be published on November 23 as planned.

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng met with the OBR on Friday morning to discuss market volatility in the wake of the mini-budget, and was seen as the latest effort on the government's part to reassure the markets.

It came after the revelation that Mr Kwarteng refused the OBR's previous offer of an assessment on the impact of his economic policies, which caused the pound to plummet and forced the Bank of England to intervene and start buying government bonds.

As Tories prepared to head to Birmingham for their annual conference, the prime minister warned the country faced a “difficult winter” ahead as she indicated she had no plans to reverse her tax-cutting agenda. “I recognise there has been disruption but it was really, really important we were able to get help to families as soon as possible,” she said in a pooled interview with broadcasters on Friday. “This is going to be a difficult winter and I am determined to do all I can to help families and help the economy at this time.”

“We are also dealing with the economic slowdown, which is being felt globally, so that is why we had to act quickly in the circumstances.”

When asked why the public is having to wait for a forecast from the OBR, Truss said "In that timescale, there couldn't be a full OBR forecast but we are committed to the OBR forecast."

She added: "We are working together with the OBR. There will be an event on November 23 where the policies are fully analysed by the OBR.

“But it was a real priority to me to make sure we are working to help struggling families.

“We are also dealing with the economic slowdown, which is being felt globally, so that is why we had to act quickly in the circumstances.”

She also cited helping families and her energy bill support plan as her first priority. Experts recently called on Ms Truss to correct her claims on TV and radio that no families will have to pay more than £2,500 in energy bills every year as the new cap comes into force on Saturday.

The prime minister has repeatedly and incorrectly said no household will pay more than her energy price guarantee over the next year.

What will be discussed at the Conservative Party Conference? Shehab Khan explains

But the guarantee is based on how much energy a family uses, and half of all households are likely to face bills of more than £2,500.

Ms Truss was then pressed on whether this week's crisis was one of her own making, leading her to admit there has been some "disruption."

It comes after calls from the International Monetary Fund for the Treasury to "re-evaluate" her government's tax measures, which have sent investors into a panic.

The turmoil erupted after markets took fright at Mr Kwarteng’s £45 billion package of unfunded tax cuts – the biggest in 50 years – while committing billions to capping energy bills for the next two years.

She insisted the government is working closely with the Bank of England, which was this week forced to step in to reassure the markets in an extraordinary intervention.

"This is going to be a difficult winter and I am determined to do all I can to help families and help the economy at this time."

The fallout of recent days, combined with a YouGov poll putting her party 33 points behind Labour, has caused unease among Ms Truss’s MPs.

Some have openly predicted the party may lose the next general election, though the prime minister declined to comment when asked if she is worried about such a proposition.

She said: “What is really important to me is we do what we can to support families and businesses this winter. What is important to me is that we get Britain’s economy back on track, that we keep taxes low, that we encourage investment into our country and that we get through these difficult times.

“What we are seeing around the world is we are seeing pressure. The Federal Reserve in America has raised their interest rates. We are seeing pressure on currencies. We are seeing governments announce energy schemes around the world.

“What is important to me is that we support the British public and British businesses through this difficult winter and that is 100% my focus as prime minister.”

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