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Gove tells Truss to abandon plan to scrap 45% top rate of tax after PM admits ground should have been ‘laid better’ for mini-budget – live | Politics

Gove says government should abandon plan to scrap 45% top rate of tax

Gove is now taking questions from the audience. A man says Gove said the party should come together after the leadership contest. Is is actually following his own advice?

Yes, says Gove.

He says he has two concerns about the mini-budget: the tax cuts being unfunded, and the abolition of the 45% top rate of tax. It would be “wise to reflect” on those policies, he says.

Q: You mean they should be dropped?

Gove says the abolition of the 45% is wrong. The government should drop the idea, he says.

This was implied by what he said on the BBC’S Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, but he is being more explicit here.

Key events

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Anti-Tory protesters in Victoria Square in Birmingham, near the party conference venue.
Anti-Tory protesters in Victoria Square in Birmingham, near the party conference venue. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the anti-poverty charity, has said that Liz Truss’s comments about benefits (see 8.55am) will “have added to the mounting fear being felt by those on the lowest incomes”. Katie Schmuecker, a policy adviser, a policy adviser at the JRF, said:

Failing to commit to help people who are already struggling to feed their families, cook hot food and heat their homes, when she has reaffirmed her intention to help those on the highest incomes, is both morally indefensible and harmful.

There is still time for the prime minister and her government to commit to uprating benefits in line with prices, as is usual, and avoid committing this harmful act of historic proportions.

Tories face large protest at party conference

Jessica Murray

Jessica Murray

A large crowd of protesters has gathered in Birmingham’s Victoria square, around the corner from where the Conservative party conference is taking place.

Rail union boss Mick Lynch, who is due to address the crowd this afternoon, said the rising cost of mortgages could mean “we have people on reasonable incomes facing homelessness in the future”. He went on:

You see all around you ordinary men and women who are desperate for a pay increase. I’m worried our communities are going to be impoverished, and if we don’t stand up to that it will be too late to stop this juggernaut of the right wing destroying our communities and creating division.

The government has to be stopped because they have an agenda which nobody voted for in this country.

Police had to step in keep back angry protesters as business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg walked to the conference via the edge of the protest site. (See 1.32pm.)

“We’d like a change of government, and we want more of a focus on policies that support everyday people rather than just the rich,” said Brianna, a protester from Birmingham who was with her three children, including five-year-old Dilly who was holding a placard saying “I want a better prime minister”.

Protesters stand with placards as they take part in a protest at Victoria Square on the first day of the Tory conference.
Protesters stand with placards as they take part in a protest at Victoria Square on the first day of the Tory conference. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Q: You said there would be 18 months until the next election. Do you mean it will be in May 2024.

Who know when it will be, says Berry.

You probably know, says Hope.

Berry says in the normal course of events it would be about 18 months away.

Q: Why should people in red wall seats back cutting the 45% top rate of tax

Because red wall seats will benefit most from extra growth, Berry says.

He says it is a mistake to think the red wall votes wanted a Labour-lite government. They wanted a Conservative government.

When people feel better off, they will support the government.

Q: Has the party failed to explain the need for the change?

Berry says it could have been done better.

Michael Gove has finished taking questions at the Telegraph fringe. Christopher Hope is now questioning Jake Berry, the Conservative party chairman.

Q: You are the 11th party chairman in 13 years. How long will you be in your job?

Berry says he hopes to stay in post until the election.

Q: What is your message to Michael Gove, who says the 45% top rate of tax should stay?

Berry says getting rid of it is the right decision. He says under Labour the top rate was 40%. Decisions will be made at the time about what will happen to people who vote against.

UPDATE: From Mail Online’s David Wilcock

Rees-Mogg booed by protesters shouting ‘Tory scum’ as he arrives at conference

Jacob Rees-Mogg was booed loudly by hundreds of protesters in Birmingham, PA Media reports. PA says:

The business secretary was escorted by several police officers as he walked across Victoria Square, where demonstrators had gathered to vent their anger at the Government as the Tory conference gets under way in the city.

The crowd pursued him, jeering and booing, with some shouting “Tory scum”.

Demonstrators furious at Liz Truss’s economic plan are carrying signs reading “unelected, unaccountable, unhinged” and “wages up, bills down, Tories out”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg escorted by police as he arrived at the Tory conference.
Jacob Rees-Mogg escorted by police as he arrived at the Tory conference. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

UPDATE: Here is some video footage from Birmingham Live’s Rhi Storer.

Q: Why are you opposed to increasing the number of grammar schools?

Gove says parents and students do not choose grammar schools; grammar schools choose students.

And this favours the better off, he says.

He says he wants grammar school standards to apply in all schools.

Q: Have you spoken to other Tory MPs about opposing the mini-budget. And what else should be dropped from it?

Gove says he has not spoken to colleagues about this.

On the second point, he says the OBR forecast needs to be published soon so that MPs can reach a balanced view on what should happen next.

Gove says government should abandon plan to scrap 45% top rate of tax

Gove is now taking questions from the audience. A man says Gove said the party should come together after the leadership contest. Is is actually following his own advice?

Yes, says Gove.

He says he has two concerns about the mini-budget: the tax cuts being unfunded, and the abolition of the 45% top rate of tax. It would be “wise to reflect” on those policies, he says.

Q: You mean they should be dropped?

Gove says the abolition of the 45% is wrong. The government should drop the idea, he says.

This was implied by what he said on the BBC’S Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, but he is being more explicit here.

Q: Are you in favour of a new royal yacht?

(Christopher Hope has led the Telegraph’s campaign for one.)

Gove says he is in favour of the idea in principle, but does not think it should be a priority for public spending at the moment.

Q: Are there parallels between Liz Truss and Jeremy Corbyn? Both of them did not get the support of a majority of their MPs.

No way, says Gove. He says Corbyn is “an eccentric, fringe figures with unsavoury friend and bonkerony views”. Truss is highly effective and very intelligent. People should not underestimate her, he says. She has ‘“formidable skills”.

He says he hopes she will correct course on one or two issues.

Q: Is the party imploding at the moment?

No, says Gove. Journalists have a tendancy to simply and exaggerate. The Tories have an opportunity to take stock and reflect, he says.

Gove says, despite all that has happened, he is still a Boris Johnson fan.

He says he is all in favour of growth. But so was George Osborne and Rishi Sunak.

He says one of Liz Truss’s strenghs is her ability to hone in on a truth, and focuse her intellectual strength on it.

Gove says he is “wary” of the decision to reverse the national insurance increase and scrap the planned corporation tax rise. But Liz Truss had a mandate for those decisions following the leadership contest.

But she did not have a mandate for abolishing the 45% top rate of tax, he says.

He says he welcomes the fact that Truss implied a “course correction” might be possible in her interview this morning. (That is not really what she implied.)

Q: How would you vote on that tax cut if the vote were tomorrow?

Gove says the vote is not tomorrow, so there is time for the situation to change.

I’ve never voted against the Conservative whip and I want therefore to make sure that we can have a civilised conversation about priorities.

Michael Gove says people voted for one nation government in 2019

Michael Gove, now seen by some as the leader of the Tory opposition to Liz Truss, is speaking at the Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics Live fringe meeting. “Chopper” is Christopher Hope.

Gove talks about being “released of the obligations of public service by the prime minister” (ie, sacked by Boris Johnson). Asked why he is doing so many fringe meetings this year, he says he was invited before he left the cabinet.

Q: Are you alarmed by the rightwing lurch of your party?

Gove says words like that do not descibe what is going on.

The majority that Johnson won in 2019 was “one nation majority”, he says. The party won the support of people who were not wealthy. They wanted to see a compassionate, one nation government.

Q: So Liz Truss does not have a mandate?

Gove says any PM has to respond to new circumstances. It was right to respond to the fuel crisis, and look at what can be done to promote growth.

But the governmnent must also look after the most vulnerable.

It will be “very, very, very difficult” to argue for welfare cuts when taxes are being cut for the rich.

It’s going to be very, very, very difficult to argue it’s right to reduce welfare when we’re also reducing tax for the wealthiest.

Tory chair Jake Berry says people facing higher fuel bills can cut consumption or get better job

In his interview with Sophy Ridge this morning on Sky, Jake Berry, the Conservative party chair, also said that, if people were having difficulty paying their fuel bills, they could either cut their consumption or get a better job. He was making a point about the need for the government to economise, and he said that was how households worked too. He said:

People know that when their bills arrive, they can either cut their consumption or they can get a higher salary, higher wages, go out there and get that new job.



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