Michael Gove says ‘people want reassurance’ from Liz Truss
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Michael Gove has doubled down on his attack on Liz Truss’s economic plan by claiming she is failing to give Brexit voters what they wanted in the 2016 referendum. The former cabinet minister and Vote Leave leader has claimed that Brexiteers did not vote for tax cuts or massive deregulation. The former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster’s second attack in just a few hours came after Ms Truss announced she was slashing yet more EU red tape. She is aiming to do this by reclassifying what a small business is to allow 40,000 more companies to get around workers rights bureaucracy.
This followed his assault on plans to borrow to provide tax cuts and the plan to end the top rate of 45p for those earning £150,000 or more.
“But Mr Gove was berated by a Tory activist at the Onward thinktank event he was speaking at for his “unsettling comments”. Onnalee Cubitt, a councillor in Basingstoke, said: “I have to say how unsettling your comments are to our party at the moment.”
She asked: “How is it after 12 years we have the highest tax burden in the last 70 years? How is it you can accuse the new Chancellor of the Exchequer of market disarray when the dollar rate has gone up 6.7 percent and the sterling rate is related directly to the dollar rate and the disarray in interest rates is directly a result of the Fed?
“I don’t think it is fair for you to be causing this difficulty as a very senior statesman at a very serious and grave time in our country’s history.”
Mr Gove responded: “If I am wrong Liz Truss will not only have created a bigger pie [for the economy] but I will eat humble pie.”
But he said: “I was worried about two aspects of the Budget, one was that the drive for tax cuts I completely understand. But I wonder if it is not in the best of Conservative traditions to have tax cuts on this scale funded by borrowing.
“The second thing was that the reduction in the top rate of tax is a mistake as well.
“It is a particular mistake because going back to one nation and our national community people need to see that when we are making the tax cuts the people who benefit first are those who have least.”
Asked at the event hosted by Onward thinktank if Brexit had been about creating “Singapore on Thames”, meaning a low tax deregulated economy, he said: “I don’t think that was the truth of the victory.
“Singapore became a handy shorthand for a process of deregulation to make the UK a deregulated and ultra economically liberal country. This is not what people voted for. The majority was to take back decision control.
“Some of the things which characterised our growth model in 2016 which people did not think were not responsive to their needs and hopes.” He pointed out that migration and having an economic model based on massive amounts of low skill labour being imported into the country had been a major factor for the Leave vote.
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He went on: “Too many bets were being placed on the City and not enough on making sure other productive parts of the country were being invested in.” On the 2016 tactics, he noted: “If you look back at the campaign it was a campaign built first of all on democracy, second on making sure resources were spent on services people needed like the NHS, there was also an argument for investment in long term drivers of productivity.”
He insisted this was a focus on science and technology and creating an industrial plan. He added: “We did argue outside the EU we could regulate as appropriate and also strike new trade deals as appropriate but those were minor chords in the overall argument.
“It is important again to stress that we said we would not pursue a reduction in environmental protections or an erosion on workers’ rights.There are powerful voices on the centre right who take the position that the point the purpose, the motivation of Brexit was deregulation at all costs. An agenda on trade which is about reducing all barriers.
“That argument does have some coherence, I don’t think that is truly Conservative, it should not be the dominant voice in the Conservative family.”
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