Liz Truss: 'We will face down the separatists'
Prime Minister Liz Truss has vowed to "face down the separatists who threaten to pull apart our precious union, our family" in her speech to the Conservative party conference.
Addressing delegates in Birmingham, Truss attacked Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh FM Mark Drakeford and took aim at "militant unions", describing political rivals as part of an "anti-growth coalition" that "just doesn't get it is because they don't face the same challenges as normal working people".
She said: "These enemies of enterprise don't know the frustration you feel to see your road blocked by protesters or your trains off due to a strike. In fact, their friends on the hard left tend to be the ones behind the disruption. The anti-growth coalition think that people who say this is the United Kingdom at its best. Working together and getting our economy growing, we will face down the separatists who threaten to pull apart our precious union, our family."
The speech was disrupted by two anti-fracking protesters holding a Greenpeace banner, who were removed from the hall, and saw Truss claim to be "the first leader of our country to have gone to a comprehensive school".
That claim was picked up by critics who pointed out that several PMs, including Gordon Brown, attended state secondaries.
Truss told delegates she knows "what it's like to live somewhere that isn’t feeling the benefits of economic growth": "I grew up in Paisley and Leeds in the 80s and 90s; I’ve seen the boarded-up shops; I’ve seen people left with no hope, turning to drugs; I’ve seen families struggling to put food on the table. Low growth isn’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. Low growth means lower wages, fewer opportunities and less money to spend on the things that make life better."
Attacking the leaders of the Scottish and Welsh governments, Truss said: "Mark Drakeford in Wales is cancelling roadbuilding projects and refusing to build the M4 relief road. Nicola Sturgeon won't build new nuclear power stations to solve the energy crisis in Scotland. Have these people ever seen a tax rise they don't like? An industry they don't want to control?
"They don't understand the British people. They don't understand aspiration. They are prepared to leave our towns and cities facing decline."
Responding to Liz Truss' conference speech, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said: "Liz Truss has been a disaster for Scotland - and this arrogant speech demonstrates why Scotland needs independence to escape Westminster control and get rid of the Tories for good.
"The Prime Minister has taken a wrecking ball to our economy - and she is threatening people's mortgages, pensions, and household budgets with her incompetence. It's no wonder polls show she's even less popular than Boris Johnson in Scotland.
"This speech did nothing to reverse the damage she's done - and it offered no hope to those who will suffer if the Tories go ahead with devastating plans to impose £18 bn austerity cuts, which threaten Scotland's public services, our NHS and people's incomes.
"With all of the Westminster parties signed up to a hard Brexit and broken Tory economics, it's clearer than ever that independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe."