PMQs: Truss shuts down Blackford over windfall tax
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In Liz Truss’ first outing as leader of the Conservatives and the country during Prime Minister’s Questions, she faced an onslaught of calls to introduce a windfall tax to pay for the surging cost of living. Following the lead of Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Blackford accused the new Prime Minister of installing a “Truss tax” that would amount to a “decade-long raid on the bank accounts of ordinary taxpayers”. But Ms Truss was undeterred in her conviction to oppose a windfall tax and questioned how Mr Blackford could simultaneously oppose further gas and oil extraction from the North Sea yet support an increase in taxes of major energy corporations. Ms Truss was suggesting that Mr Blackford has no notion of where energy provisions will come from, as he was opposing the possibility of more domestically-produced supplies while discouraging foreign companies from dealing in the UK.
Mr Blackford said: “On her first full day as Prime Minister, she has failed to rule out a Truss tax on households and businesses. Instead of targeting the profits of massive corporations with a windfall tax, the Prime Minister’s plan appears to be a decade-long raid on the bank accounts of ordinary taxpayers.
“These costs must not be passed on to consumers and business by deferring bills. Government must announce an enhanced windfall tax making sure those oil and gas producers pay their fair share of excess profits. Does the Prime Minister understand that her first act will now define her, a Truss tax that households and businesses will be paying for years to come?
Ms Truss responded: “Well, I’m not quite what the right honourable gentleman’s position is because on the one hand, he does not seem to want oil and gas extraction from the North Sea but on the other hand, he wants them to pay more taxes. Why does he not make up his mind?”
The Tory backbenches then erupted into laughter, with newly-appointed foreign secretary James Cleverly holding his hands out with an ear-to-ear smile across his face.
New Prime Minister Liz Truss will on Thursday set out a plan to save households and businesses from financial ruin as a result of soaring energy bills.
At her first Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms Truss confirmed her plan, expected to freeze household bills at around £2,500, will be set out in Parliament.
She rejected the idea of using a windfall tax on the bumper profits made by oil and gas giants to fund the package, reported to cost up to £150 billion.
Ms Truss told the Commons: “I will make sure that in our energy plan we will help to support businesses and people with the immediate price crisis, as well as making sure there are long-term supplies available.”
She added: “I understand that people across our country are struggling with the cost of living and they are struggling with their energy bills.
“That is why I, as Prime Minister, will take immediate action to help people with the cost of their energy bills and I will be making an announcement to this House on that tomorrow and giving people certainty to make sure that they are able to get through this winter and be able to have the energy supplies and be able to afford it.”
In response to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has pushed for a levy on the £170 billion of “excess profits” that oil and gas producers are expected to enjoy over the coming years, Ms Truss rejected a windfall tax.
“I am against a windfall tax, I believe it is the wrong thing to be putting companies off investing in the United Kingdom just when we need to be growing the economy,” she said.
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The upcoming emergency plan to tackle the cost of living crisis has been much anticipated over the summer.
The Tory leadership contest delayed any significant response to the crisis as the two rival candidates fought to secure their premiership.
Now that Ms Truss has entered No 10, the specifics of her emergency plan are beginning to come to the fore, but there is a clear disconnect between the Conservative Party and their opposition in Labour and the SNP, centred on how best to tackle the soaring prices.
The former are advocating a tax slash across the board, including at the level of corporation, to encourage investment and subsequent growth, while the latter two believe such a method will prolong the crisis and force working people to foot the bill, suggesting major corporations should be responsible for offsetting the costs through a particularised windfall tax. Wednesday’s PMQs was a clear example of those seemingly insurmountable differences.
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