Pound news – latest: Kwasi Kwarteng’s joke about mini-Budget tax U-turn ‘an insult to millions’

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Kwasi Kwarteng jokes tax cut plan ’caused a little turbulence’ as he addresses U-turn

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng joking that the turmoil his plans caused to the markets was merely a “little turbulence” is an “insult to millions”, the Liberal Democrats said.

Earlier today, he made a U-turn on his highly-controversial unfunded plans to scrap the 45p rate of tax for the highest earners.

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Then he took to the stage at the Conservative Party conference to defend the measures, telling delegates: “I can be frank. I know the plan put forward only 10 days ago has caused a little turbulence.

“I get it. I get it. We are listening and have listened, and now I want to focus on delivering the major parts of our growth package.”

He also said, in what appears to be some criticism of Tory governments under former PM Boris Johnson: “For too long, our economy has not grown enough, the path ahead of us was one of slow, managed decline.”

The Lib Dems’ Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said: “Laughing about the turbulence caused by this botched budget is an insult to the millions of people already facing spiralling mortgage costs.

“This should be his first and last conference speech as Chancellor.”

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Schools and hospitals ‘must find £11bn of cuts’

Schools and hospitals will be forced to make £11 billion worth of cuts, according to a think tank, after chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has refused to protect their budgets from soaring inflation.

Mr Kwarteng has been warned against his decision to stick to 2021 spending allocations amid rising prices.

Despite this, local government minister Paul Scully has claimed that there is “fat to be trimmed” from town hall budgets.

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The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) already warned that an extra £18bn was needed next year to restore “the real-terms generosity intended” when the allocations were made.

You can read the full story here by Rob Merrick

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Nearly 500,000 people sign petition for early general election

Almost half a million people have put their names to a petition calling for an early general election.

The petition has been signed by more than 480,000 people at the time of writing.

This means that the petition is set to be debated in Parliament as it has garnered more than 100,000 signatures.

Part of the government’s response to the petition says: “A change in the leader of the governing party does not trigger a general election – this has been the case under governments of successive political colours.”

Nadine Dorries, former culture secretary and a Boris Johnson loyalist, has called on his successor Liz Truss to call an election earlier than the scheduled date of 2024.

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Although Ms Dorries backed Ms Truss in the Tory leadership race over the summer, she has become increasingly critical of the prime minister and has called for a fresh nationwide vote.

In complaining that her three years’ worth of work has been halted, she said: “No one asked for this. C4 (Channel 4) sale, online safety, BBC licence fee review, all signed off by Cabinet all ready to go, all stopped.”

You can read her remarks in the full story here by Kate Devlin

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Key pledges: Nuclear power to harsher sewage dumping fines

While chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s widely-panned speech has dominated the headlines, other ministers have made a number of pledges and announcements today.

Here are the key takeaways from their speeches:

The UK’s first prototype nuclear fusion power station will be built in Nottinghamshire by 2040, business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg announced.

The government will be replacing GDPR (general data protection regulation) its “own business and consumer friendly British data protection system,” culture secretary Michelle Donelan announced.

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Work and Pensions secretary Chloe Smith has said “protecting the most vulnerable is a priority” for her and said that the government has confirmed that pensions “will again be supported by the triple lock”.

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Home secretary Suella Braverman told an audience of Young Conservatives at the party conference that she will “look at” giving anonymity to suspected criminals before they are charged to avoid what she called “trial by media”.

Environment secretary Ranil Jayawardena confirmed he would lift the limit on fines that water companies could face for dumping sewage in UK waterways from £250,000 to up to £250 million.

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Watch: Rees-Mogg doesn’t mind being called ‘Tory scum’

Jacob Rees-Mogg – subjected to plenty of abuse from protesters as he arrived the Tory conference – said: “If people really want to call me Tory scum, I don’t mind.”

The business secretary said: “I happen to think that having a democracy where you can actually walk through the streets and people can exercise their right to peaceful protest shows the strength of our society.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg says he doesn’t mind being called ‘Tory scum’ by protesters

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A rundown of Liz Truss’ history of U-turns

The scrapping of the plan to abolish the 45p tax rate was Liz Truss’ first U-turn as prime minister.

But it appears she has a bit of a history of having to eat her words after making big decisions.

Jon Stone has compiled a rundown on her backtracks, including those on the cost of living and abolishing the monarchy.

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Kwarteng’s speech ‘an insult to millions of people’ – Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats have said that the Chancellor’s speech at the Tory party conference will bring “cold comfort” to struggling households.

The party’s Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said: “Laughing about the turbulence caused by this botched budget is an insult to the millions of people already facing spiralling mortgage costs.

“Kwasi Kwarteng’s fiscal failure saw the economy tank and mortgage rates go through the roof, his words will bring cold comfort to struggling families and pensioners.

“This should be his first and last conference speech as Chancellor. If he had any integrity left Kwarteng would hand in his notice and apologise to the British people for the damage he has caused.”

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You can read the full story here by Kate Devlin

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Working people ‘paying for Tories’ economic crisis’ – Labour

Labour said Kwasi Kwarteng’s speech showed “a Chancellor and a Tory government completely out of touch, with no understanding on its own appalling record on growth”.

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Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said in a series of tweets: “What the Chancellor called a little financial disturbance is a huge economic body blow to working people that will mean higher prices and soaring mortgages. That’s the Tory economic premium.

“This is an economic crisis made in Downing Street, paid for by working people.”

She added:“The Tories have damaged the UK’s reputation on the global stage and left us all worse off. The fact the Bank of England had to step in with a £65 billion bailout out with taxpayers’ money is deeply shameful.

“They must reverse this Budget and abandon their discredited, dangerous trickle-down approach.”

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Security restrictions at Tory conference lifted

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ICYMI: Tory conference put on temporary security lockdown

The Conservative Party conference was temporarily locked down because of a “potential security alert”, police in Birmingham said.

Delegates were not allowed to enter or leave the event, held at the International Convention Centre (ICC), for more than an hour before chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was due to address the annual conference.

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You can read Lizzie Dearden’s story here

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Labour gains massive 25-point poll lead after mini-Budget

A new poll has given Labour a 25-point lead over Conservatives in the wake of Kwasi Kwarteng’s highly-contentious mini-Budget.

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The survey by Savanta ComRes suggests Sir Keir Starmer’s party is on track for a landslide victory at the next general election.

You can read more on this developing story here by Andrew Woodcock



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