Liz Truss latest: Pound sinks to Thatcher-era low ahead of PM’s new energy plan

Liz Truss cabinet reshuffle: Who’s in and who’s out?

Just one day after Liz Truss assumed office, the pound’s value has sunk to a low not seen since 1985, knocked by the UK’s worsening economic outlook and the strength of the US dollar.

Financial markets have been rattled by the new prime minister’s plans to boost the economy through tax cuts while also potentially providing around £100bn to cap energy costs in a support package expected to be unveiled on Thursday.

At their first PMQs clash, Sir Keir Starmer has accused Liz Truss of seeking to “protect Shell’s profits and give Amazon a tax break” rather than help households and public services weather the cost of living crisis, after she ruled out a windfall tax on energy firms.

The Labour leader warned Ms Truss would force taxpayers to “foot the bill” for her reported plans to freeze rocketing energy bills, dubbed a decades-long “Truss tax” by the SNP’s Ian Blackford.

Despite fears she was ditching party unity in favour of a “cabinet of cronies” upon entering No 10, one incoming minister told The Times: “I doubt she’ll last two years.”

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Energy leaders urge Liz Truss to push legislation

A group of energy trade bodies have written to Liz Truss suggest that she focuses on passing new energy laws that ensure policy keeps up with an industry undergoing great change on the path to net zero.

Bosses at eight trade bodies said that passing the Energy Bill could be the first victory for Liz Truss’s new government.

They wrote: “As the first dedicated energy legislation in a decade, your government has an opportunity to ensure policy and regulation keeps pace with our ever-evolving energy system, delivering the right infrastructure, in the right place, at the right time.

“The bill can not only help overcome the unprecedented challenges the sector faces today, but also ensure the country capitalises on the immense opportunities as we transition to net zero.

“A recommitment to the bill would be a welcome signal that your government remains committed to not only net zero, but the UK’s booming green energy industries.”

Ms Truss has indicated a pivot to oil and gas projects along with nuclear energy. The new prime minister alarmed environmentalists by putting climate-change sceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg in charge of energy policy.

7 September 2022 18:07


Royal Mail workers set to strike again later in September

To take you aside from Downing Street for one moment: Royal Mail workers have decided to strike again at the end of this month, after a two day strike from Thursday.

Word from the Communication Workers Union (CWU): Royal Mail workers are to stage a further 48-hour strike from September 30 in their dispute over pay and conditions.

The union’s members are walking out in protest against a pay rise of 2 per cent.

When Thursday’ strike was announced earlier, CWU chief said: “When Royal Mail bosses are raking in £758 million in profit and shareholders pocketing in excess of £400 million, our members won’t accept pleas of poverty from the company.

“Postal workers won’t meekly accept their living standards being hammered by greedy business leaders who are completely out of touch with modern Britain.”

CWU members were on strike on 26 and 31 August.

7 September 2022 17:51


Warning 1.3 million Britons will be pushed into poverty even with energy bill freeze

A further 1.3 million Britons will be pushed into poverty next year even if energy bills are frozen at their current levels, a think tank has warned (Matt Mathers writes).

The Legatum Institute, which focuses on social and economic policy, forecasts that the number of people in poverty will rise from 13.9 in 2019/20 million to 15.2 million in 2022/23 even if the freeze is implemented.

The average yearly household bill for gas and electricity is set to rise from its current level of £1,971 to £3,549 on 1 October when the new price cap comes into effect.

7 September 2022 17:41


Liz Truss promises power to backbenchers

Conservative former minister Mark Francois said Liz Truss assured backbench Tories they would have a greater role under her government than under Boris Johnson.

Discussing the prime minister’s first speech to the 1922 committee, he told reporters: “Impressive performance. Confident. Assured. Answered the questions directly. It was good.

“As an overall impression, it was an impressive start and she was very good at understanding some of the real concerns of backbenchers, in terms of the way she was speaking, in terms of some of the changes at No 10, the way they’re going to inter-relate with colleagues.

“To have greater involvement from backbenchers and greater communication, both with the backbenchers and from the backbenchers towards No 10.”

7 September 2022 17:17


Mark Spencer among Sunak backers given jobs

Rishi Sunak backers Mark Spencer and Jeremy Quin have been given jobs in the Liz Truss government.

Spencer becomes as minister of state at Defra, and Quin is minister of state at the Home Office.

Boris Johnson loyalist Conor Burns – he of “ambushed by cake” fame – is given a junior role at the Department for International Trade.

Meanwhile, Jesse Norman becomes a junior minister at the Foreign Office, Tom Pursglove gets a junior role at the Home Office, and Jackie Doyle-Price is made a minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

7 September 2022 17:00


Robert Jenrick back in government

Robert Jenrick – the former communities secretary axed by Boris Johnson last year – has returned to government. Liz Truss has handed him a junior ministerial role in the health and social care department.

Jenrick had been forced to admit that his decision to grant planning permission to a controversial housing development by Conservative donor had been unlawful.

He was one of two Rishi Sunak backers appointed to government in the latest announcements made by No 10. Victoria Prentis takes up a role at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Meanwhile, several more Truss supporters were given government jobs.

Rachel Maclean takes up a role at the Ministry of Justice; Julia Lopez is named a junior minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and Paul Scully is re-appointed at the levelling up department .

7 September 2022 16:44


Sunak jokes he has ‘more time on his hands than anticipated’ as he returns to backbenches

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports:

The giant gap between winning and losing in politics was brutally on display on Tuesday, as Rishi Sunak went back to life on the backbenches just his former leadership rival Liz Truss flew to Balmoral to be appointed prime minister by the Queen.

Just one day after losing out on the premiership, Mr Sunak appeared in the more humble surroundings of the Commons’ second chamber Westminster Hall to intervene in a debate on “unavoidably small hospitals”.

The former chancellor – who has previously spent less than three years on the backbenches – told the small smattering of MPs in attendance: “I had not planned on speaking, but this morning I saw the Order Paper and it turned out that I had more time on my hands than I had anticipated.”

As Ms Truss put the final touches on her plans to help energy consumers with their bills and cut taxes, Mr Sunak got back to the more workaday cause of pleading for small hospitals in sparsely-populated areas like his Richmond constituency in North Yorkshire to be spared the axe.

Whether his swift return to the parliamentary fray foretells a long stint to come as a diligent constituency MP remains to be seen, with many at Westminster expecting him to return to his earlier career in finance.

‘I had more times on my hands than anticipated’: Rishi Sunak joins Westminster hall debate

7 September 2022 16:31


Suella Braverman says stopping migrant boat crossings will be priority as home secretary

New home secretary Suella Braverman laid out her key priorities in a speech to Home Office staff this morning, our home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden reports.

A source who saw the speech told The Independent that Ms Braverman said one was stopping Channel boat crossings, while others included driving down violent crime and achieving Boris Johnson’s programme to recruit 20,000 extra police officers by March.

All Home Office staff were also sent an email from permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft and second permanent secretary Tricia Hayes after Liz Truss announced her cabinet on Tuesday evening.

The message, seen by The Independent, praised Ms Patel in spite of widespread bad feeling among civil servants over behaviour that prompted a 2020 inquiry finding she broke the ministerial code by bullying staff.

You can read more details in this report:

7 September 2022 16:17


Brexit ‘opportunities’ role ditched with no replacement for Jacob Rees-Mogg

Our political correspondent Adam Forrest reports:

Liz Truss’s government has ditched the dedicated role of Brexit opportunities minister, confirming that Jacob Rees-Mogg would not be replaced in the job.

The PM’s official spokesperson said the mission of hunting out Brexit opportunities would now be “taken across departments”.

Handed the role by Boris Johnson in February, Mr Rees-Mogg spent six months trying to interest his colleagues in ditching EU regulations and launching attacks on the civil service over working from home.

His office listed scrapping Brussels-era regulations on vacuum cleaners as one of the “most interesting” ways to capitalise on the UK’s Brexit “freedoms” after asking tabloid readers for ideas.

7 September 2022 15:59


Pound falls to lowest level against US dollar since 1985

The pound fell to its lowest level against the US dollar since 1985, knocked by a worsening economic outlook and the strength of the dollar.

It fell as much as 0.9 per cent to $1.1407 and is now at $1.1422, down 0.8 per cent, according to Refinitiv data.

My colleague Liam James has the breaking report here:

7 September 2022 15:48

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