Rees-Mogg booed by protesters in Birmingham as Tory conference kicks off
Jacob Rees-Mogg has been chased and heckled by protesters in Birmingham where the Conservative Party Conference is getting underway.
The Business Secretary faced a hostile reception as he crossed the city centre, where hundreds of demonstrators had gathered to vent their anger at the Government.
Escorted by several police officers through Centenary Square, Mr Rees-Mogg was pursued by a loudly booing and jeering crowd, some of whom shouted “Tory scum”, as he headed towards his party’s annual gathering at the nearby International Convention Centre.
Mr Rees-Mogg played down the protests as a “fact of democracy”.
Speaking to Sky News while being led through the crowd by police, he said: “There have been protests at Tory conferences since time immemorial, it’s nothing new."
“It’s a fact of democracy", he said. "They’re shouting but it’s perfectly peaceful."
“And the right to peaceful expression of your view is fundamental to our constitution.”
His appointment has been criticised by environmental groups due to his criticism of “climate alarmism” and support for fracking.
Mick, who followed the minister with a placard that read “Tory lies kill”, said he joined the rally because “I hate the Tories”.
The 58-year-old, from Birmingham, who did not want to give his surname, described Prime Minister Liz Truss’s mini-budget as “disastrous for normal people”.
He said: “It’s just the start though – the next step is, to balance the books again, they’re going to cut public services even further. They disgust me.”
Other demonstrators also expressed their anger over the Government’s move to axe the top rate of income tax for the nation’s highest earners during the cost-of-living crisis.
Organised by the People’s Assembly campaign group, it was part of a wave of protests sweeping the country amid rising energy costs and falling living standards.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP, Michael Fabricant found himself caught in the middle of the protests after he was wrongly directed.
The Lichfield MP said in a tweet: "Social media is suggesting I was “attacked” as I tried to get into #CPC2022. I was not. I was directed wrongly right into the middle of the protest. I think the protesters thought I was deliberately provoking them. But no one touched me. Just shouted abuse. They were just loud!"
Speaking ahead of the conference, Ms Truss said she is standing by her tax-cutting plan as she refused to rule out public spending cuts.
“I do want to say to people I understand their worries about what has happened this week,” she told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme.
“I do stand by the package we announced and I stand by the fact we announced it quickly, because we had to act”.
She admitted she should have “laid the ground better” for Kwasi Kwarteng’s financial statement, and said the Chancellor had made the decision to cut income tax for the richest.