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Liz Truss lost for words during grilling from local radio on economic turmoil

The Prime Minister was questioned about rising mortgages, fracking, and a deteriorating hospital near to her constituency

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Liz Truss

The Prime Minister was lost for words at points as she faced her first round of interviews with the press following the economic fallout of the mini-budget.

Liz Truss engaged in a lengthy pause on one occasion when asked by a local BBC radio station about the impact of her tax-cutting agenda on people’s mortgages across the UK.

The Prime Minister also claimed she would lobby her own Health Secretary and deputy, Therese Coffey, in an attempt to see the roof of one of her constituency’s nearest large hospitals replaced.

As Ms Truss defended Government borrowing aimed at cutting taxes to promote economic growth and to provide aid with rising energy bills, BBC Radio Stoke’s presenter pointed out that homeowners’ mortgages fees were rising by more than the amount they would save from the energy support.

After a silence, the Prime Minister replied: “I don’t think anybody is arguing that we shouldn’t have acted on energy.”

Asked by BBC Radio Norfolk whether she could guarantee that the west Norfolk town of King’s Lynn would get a new hospital, the Prime Minister said she would lobby Ms Coffey, her Deputy Prime Minister.

The town’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has a structurally deficient roof, currently held up by 1,500 props.

Ms Truss, the MP for South West Norfolk, said: “As you know, as a local MP I have been lobbying very hard to see improvements at the Queen Elizabeth and I have seen for myself the very difficult situation with the roof.

“Of course we have a new Health Secretary, Therese Coffey. I do hope she will visit the Queen Elizabeth Hospital soon to see the situation there and make sure that action is taken because it simply isn’t good enough.”

When told by the presenter that “Norfolk needs this”, Ms Truss replied: “I am not making promises on her behalf but I will certainly be putting that case as the local MP.”

On BBC Radio Lancashire, the Prime Minister was unable to define what “local consent” for fracking would look like.

Asked by the presenter for details of how shale gas extraction in the county could be affected by public feeling, Ms Truss said: “The Energy Secretary will be laying out in more detail exactly what that looks like, but it does mean making sure there is local support for going ahead.”

Questions for the Prime Minister from BBC Radio Kent listeners included “What on earth were you thinking?”, “How can we ever trust the Conservatives with our economy again?” and “Are you ashamed of what you’ve done?”, the show’s presenter said.

Ms Truss replied: “I think we have to remember what situation this country was facing.

“We were going into the winter with people expected to face fuel bills of up to £6,000, huge rates of inflation, slowing economic growth.

“And what we’ve done is we’ve taken action to make sure that from this weekend, people won’t be paying a typical fuel bill of more than £2,500.”

The Prime Minister was later accused by BBC Radio Bristol’s presenter of giving the “same scripted answer” to every local radio station as she answered questions about the Bank of England’s intervention on Wednesday.

Ms Truss reiterated the UK was facing a “very, very difficult economic situation” as a result of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

But BBC Radio Bristol’s presenter suggested the Government had inflicted the economic turmoil on the country, and the Chancellor had “opened up the stable door and spooked the horses so much you could almost see the economy being dragged behind them”.

Reacting to Ms Truss’s broadcast round, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said the Prime Minister had “finally broken her long painful silence with a series of short painful silences”.

In a tweet, Ms Rayner added: “People desperately needed reassurance on prices, mortgages and pensions. She’s demonstrated why she can’t be trusted with Britain’s economy.”

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