Liz Truss vows to get country 'through the tempest' at Tory conference

Making her first speech as Tory leader at the Conservative Party Conference she warned the scale of the challenges is immense, and whenever there is change there is disruption. ITV News Political Reporter Shehab Khan has the latest

Liz Truss vowed to get Britain “through the tempest” during her Tory conference speech as she seeks to unite the party around her controversial economic plans.

Walking out to the ’90s hit 'Moving On Up' by M People, the prime minister told a packed hall in Birmingham "these are stormy days" and was given numerous standing ovations.

But on the final day of a conference marked by infighting and division, Greenpeace protesters illustrated the level of discontent by heckling her with a banner asking 'who voted for this?'

“Let’s get them removed,” Ms Truss said.

In her bid to navigate "these tough times", she sought to rally Tory activists behind her vision of a government wholly committed to boosting economic growth.

“We’re dealing with the global economic crisis caused by Covid and by Putin’s appalling war in Ukraine," she said.

"In these tough times, we need to step up.

“I’m determined to get Britain moving, to get us through the tempest and put us on a stronger footing as a nation.”

Addressing her most divisive policy - which was reversed in an astonishing U-turn this week - Ms Truss said plans to abolish the 45p tax rate on top earners "became a distraction."

She said: “The fact is the abolition of the 45p tax rate became a distraction from the major parts of our growth plan. That is why we’re no longer proceeding with it. I get it and I have listened.”

But she also took aim at opposition politicians, who she accused of being "enemies of enterprise" and labelled an "anti-growth coalition."

“These enemies of enterprise don’t know the frustration you feel to see your road blocked by protesters, or your trains off due to strikes. In fact, their friends on the hard left tend to be the ones behind the disruption.

“The anti-growth coalition think the people who stick themselves to trains, roads and buildings are heroes.

“I say the real heroes are those who go to work, take responsibility and aspire to a better life for themselves and their families. And I am on their side.”

As the Conservative party continues to be at war with itself, has Liz Truss done enough to end it? ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana has the latest

Ms Truss said she aims to “level up the country in a Conservative way,” citing her experience of low growth while growing up in Leeds and Paisley.

“For too long, our economy hasn’t grown as strongly as it should have done," she said, adding later she is ready to make "hard choices" as critics claim the government is on the verge of cutting public funding in a return to austerity.

“I know what it’s like to live somewhere that isn’t feeling the benefits of economic growth. I grew up in Paisley and in Leeds in the ’80s and ’90s.

“I’ve seen the boarded-up shops. I’ve seen people left with no hope turning to drugs. I have seen families struggling to put food on the table."

Ms Truss also claimed to be the first prime minister to have gone to a comprehensive school, though this has been disputed by Labour sources who say Gordon Brown did as well.

Ms Truss said on her education: “That taught me two things: one is that we have huge talent across our country and two that we’re not making enough of it.

“This is a great country. I’m so proud of who we are and what we stand for, but I know that we can do better and I know that we must do better and that’s why I entered politics.

“I want to live in a country where hard work’s rewarded, where women can walk home safely at night and where our children have a better future.”

It came as the scale of the task restoring Tory morale was laid bare at a conference that has seen a U-turn over a totemic tax policy, Cabinet dissent and the threat of another major split over the level of benefits.

Former Cabinet minister Grant Shapps warned she has little more than a week to save her leadership.

Meanwhile, another member of Boris Johnson’s top team Nadine Dorries said she was not calling for an immediate election because “we’d absolutely lose it.”

Ms Dorries had previously suggested Ms Truss should go to the country if she wanted a mandate for her tax-cutting, high-borrowing agenda.

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Adding to the prime minister's criticism, M People founder Mike Pickering said Ms Truss should pay attention to the lyrics of the band’s song Moving On Up.

He said: “I was just looking at the lyrics. It’s amazing. I hope she takes note. It’s about, ‘Go and pack your bags and get out’.”

Asked why he thought the song had been used, he replied: “No one said to them ‘Tony Blair and new Labour used that song all the time’ or ‘Heather’s son is a Labour councillor’ or ‘Mike is really vociferous on Twitter and social media about being an anti-Tory’.

“I don’t know why they have used it. They are so useless at everything. Who knows?”

Shortly ahead of her speech, YouGov released polling suggesting Ms Truss is already more unpopular than Mr Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn ever were.

Just 14% of the public now say they have a favourable impression of the prime minister, compared with 26% who said so between September 21-22.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) now see the prime minister in an unfavourable light, including more than half (55%) who see her very unfavourably.

That gives her a net favourability rating of minus 59, depths not plumbed by Mr Johnson, who hit minus 53 in July, or Mr Corbyn, who fell to minus 55 in June 2019. YouGov surveyed 1,751 British adults on October 1-2.

In London, climate demonstrators glued themselves to railings, with Liz Truss dubbing protestors part of an 'anti-growth coalition'

Climate protestors glued themselves to railings in Westminster during the Prime Minister's speech.

They also glued themselves to the road by their hands. It's thought the demonstrators were from the Just Stop Oil group, which has blocked roads leading to oil refineries in Warwickshire and Essex over recent months.

As one was carried away by police he told ITV News he was there "for the wellbeing of people and our kids future - that's what we're here for."

'If they don't change, I might have to' - voters in Worcester give their verdict

Voters in Worcester had mixed views on how the new Prime Minister is handling what has been a bumpy beginning to her premiership.

"After Boris - and he was such a big person - she seems so little again," said one. "But she'll be alright."

Another agreed that the Prime Minister had come slightly unstuck but said he liked the fact she had apologised.

While one Conservative voter said recent events had left her Tory heart 'less full.'

"If they don't change, I might have too," she said.

Watch the speech in full: