By Elizabeth Piper and Andrew MacAskill
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, Oct 2 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Liz Truss tried to reassure her party and public opinion on Sunday by saying she should have done more to “lay the foundations” for an economic plan that saw the pound to record lows and skyrocket government borrowing costs.
On the first day of the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference, Truss, who has been in office for less than a month but is already under intense pressure, struck a softer tone by saying she would support citizens through a difficult winter and beyond.
He defended his “growth plan”, a package of tax-cutting measures that investors and many economists have criticized for setting out billions of pounds of spending while offering little detail on how it will be paid for in the short term.
Truss said that was the right direction, suggesting that he had not fully explained to critics the depth of Britain’s problems and the urgent need for a radical plan. Traders and investors have dismissed that argument as a reason for the pound’s declines and rising borrowing costs last week.
But, in what some Conservative lawmakers fear will hurt their prospects in an election scheduled for 2024, Truss did not deny that the plan would require spending cuts for public services and refused to commit to increasing welfare benefits in line with inflation, while backing a tax cut for the wealthiest.
Asked what she was doing to allay concerns in Britain about the impact of her plan on mortgages, loans and rental costs, Truss told the BBC: “I understand your concern about what has happened this week. “, he told the BBC in the city of Birmingham, in central England.
“I stand by the package that we announced, and I stand by the fact that we announced it quickly because we had to act, but I agree that we should have laid the groundwork better.”
Jake Berry, chairman of the Conservative Party, suggested that the markets might have overreacted, although he admitted he was not an economist. “So let’s see where the markets are in six months,” he told Sky News.
(By Elizabeth Piper and Andrew MacAskill; additional reporting by Hannah McKay and Alistair Smout; Editing in Spanish by Juana Casas)