Michael Gove tells Liz Truss that cutting tax for highest earners is wrong as protesters gather at start of Tory conference – live | Politics

Gove says government should abandon plan to scrap 45% top rate of tax

Gove is now taking questions from the audience. A man says Gove said the party should come together after the leadership contest. Is is actually following his own advice?

Yes, says Gove.

He says he has two concerns about the mini-budget: the tax cuts being unfunded, and the abolition of the 45% top rate of tax. It would be “wise to reflect” on those policies, he says.

Q: You mean they should be dropped?

Gove says the abolition of the 45% is wrong. The government should drop the idea, he says.

This was implied by what he said on the BBC’S Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, but he is being more explicit here.

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Ben Quinn

Ben Quinn

The former Spice Girl – Melanie Brown – has told an event at the Conservative Party conference of her fears that the “massive issue of domestic abuse” will slip down the agenda during “these times of absolute economic chaos.”

The singer, known to millions as Mel B or ‘Scary Spice’, was speaking at a meeting organised by the Sun and Women’s Aid, which she became a patron of in 2018 after leaving what she described as an abusive relationship.

“We need to reform everything, the courts, the police, even GPs, even people in your work environment, HR, you need to have a safe place where you can go without any shame and know the warning signs,” said Brown, who was made an MBE for services to charitable causes and vulnerable women.

Women’s Aid is publishing research which found that 40% of adults believe that people who carry out domestic violence against women were enabled by sexism, compared to some 60% who felt the opposite and regarded it – in the words of the charity’s CEO – as “bad people doing bad things”.

“What we have is a real gap in people’s understanding of how prevalent this crime is,” said Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid. She went on:

We are not ready yet as a society to support women and that is the fundamental question. This is due to sexism and misogyny that underpins all those systems. They are not created to recognise the harm that women face on a daily basis.

The new Women’s Aid research also found there was a 15% drop in how seriously people regarded an instance of domestic abuse, such as if a man slaps his wife, if the perpetrator apologised afterwards.

“In these times of absolute economic chaos I don’t want the massive issue of domestic abuse to slip down the agenda”
Mel B – aka Scary Spice – tells a ⁦@womensaid⁩ / Sun fringe at the Conservative conference pic.twitter.com/QWtshcEbKl

— Ben Quinn (@BenQuinn75) October 2, 2022

Truss showing ‘genuine engagement’ with NI protocol problem and wants negotiated solution, says Irish PM

Micheál Martin, the taoiseach (Irish prime minister), has said Liz Truss is showing “genuine engagement” with the Northern Ireland protocol problem and wants a negotiated solution.

Speaking on RTE, Martin said:

I had a positive and warm meeting with Liz Truss when we met the weekend of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth.

I did, to be fair, detect a genuine engagement and a wish to get this issue resolved.

I think she would prefer a negotiated solution and the subsequent meeting between Liz Truss and Ursula von der Leyen [European Commission presiden] went well also and I think in many respects it’s about getting this into a process between the European Union and the United Kingdom to get this issue resolved once and for all, not least because of the issues [like] the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis.

Europe and United Kingdom need to be acting together on that.

Really the protocol should not be an issue causing that degree of distress in the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Micheál Martin in Downing Street for a meeting with Liz Truss on the day before the Queen’s funeral.
Micheál Martin in Downing Street for a meeting with Liz Truss on the day before the Queen’s funeral. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

The Scottish Conservative MP Andrew Bowie has told BBC Radio Scotland that he agrees with what Michael Gove told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg this morning about unfunded tax cuts being a mistake. (See 9.14am.) Asked if Gove was right, Bowie replied: “Yes, he’s right.”

He also said that that if the government were to cut benefits to fund these tax cuts, that would be a mistake.

In principle, cutting welfare to pay for tax cuts would not be the right thing to do. But that’s not what’s been laid in front of us.

Bowie said he wanted to give Kwasi Kwarteng, the chancellor, time to “expand” on his plans. He said:

I share people’s concerns about where we are right now. But I think it’s incumbent on all of us to give the chancellor the space and the time to expand on those plans and set out more detail, and for us to be able to determine whether or not we support those plans.

But he refused to say that he would vote for the mini-budget. Asked what he would do, he said:

We’re going to take a decision based on what those plans are, and every Conservative MP will have to examine those plans in detail and in depth and come to a decision as to whether or not they support it.

An anti-Tory protester in Birmingham.
An anti-Tory protester in Birmingham. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, has played down the significance of the protesters who booed him at the conference in Birmingham. (See 1.32pm.) He told Sky News:

There have been protests at Tory conferences since time immemorial, it’s nothing new. It’s a fact of democracy. They’re shouting but it’s perfectly peaceful. And the right to peaceful expression of your view is fundamental to our constitution.

Jacob Rees-Mogg arriving at the Tory conference.
Jacob Rees-Mogg arriving at the Tory conference. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, has told a fringe meeting at the Tory conference that the UK is channelling aid to Ukraine from countries that are opposed to what Russia is doing in private but that don’t want to say so pubicly, my colleague Jessica Elgot reports.

Wallace says UK MoD coordinate donations/aid to the Ukrainians from countries who do not want to make support public. “We don’t make it public. They don’t want to go public. But Russia would be deeply unhappy to learn that some [countries] deeply disagree with what’s going on.”

— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) October 2, 2022

Anti-Tory protesters demonstrating in Birmingham this afternoon.
Anti-Tory protesters demonstrating in Birmingham this afternoon. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Nadine Dorries accuses Truss of throwing Kwarteng ‘under a bus’

Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary and leading Boris Johnson supporter, has accused Liz Truss of throwing Kwasi Kwarteng “under a bus” in her interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg this morning. (See 9.53am.)

One of @BorisJohnson faults was that he could sometimes be too loyal and he got that. However, there is a balance and throwing your Chancellor under a bus on the first day of conference really isn’t it. 🤞 things improve and settle down from now. https://t.co/72cBRWo2c1

— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) October 2, 2022

If Dorries thinks that Johnson was too loyal, she might want to read Andrew Gimson’s new book about him, Boris Johnson: The Rise and Fall of a Troublemaker at Number 10. Dorries was one of Johnson’s early supporters when he ran for the Tory leadership, and she has always said that she likes him because he never patronised her in the way that people like David Cameron did. But Gimson reveals that in private Johnson was not always complimentary about his most loyal supporters.

Johnson is said, when shown the list of his first seventy parliamentary supporters, to have exclaimed: ‘For fuck’s sake go and find me some sensible people!’

Many Guardian readers will agree with Gimson’s verdict on Johnson in the book – “a vile, disgusting human being”. But it was one of Andrew Gimson’s sons who said that. Gimson himself, who has already written one frequently-updated biography of Johnson, has made a career out of arguing that the liberal intelligensia has underestimated Johnson’s talents and appeal. He is at it again in this volume which, while ultimately unconvincing (Sonia Purnell explains why here), is nevertheless thought-provoking, exceptionally well written and informed by a deep knowledge of political history.

Anti-Tory protesters in Victoria Square in Birmingham, near the party conference venue.
Anti-Tory protesters in Victoria Square in Birmingham, near the party conference venue. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the anti-poverty charity, has said that Liz Truss’s comments about benefits (see 8.55am) will “have added to the mounting fear being felt by those on the lowest incomes”. Katie Schmuecker, a policy adviser, a policy adviser at the JRF, said:

Failing to commit to help people who are already struggling to feed their families, cook hot food and heat their homes, when she has reaffirmed her intention to help those on the highest incomes, is both morally indefensible and harmful.

There is still time for the prime minister and her government to commit to uprating benefits in line with prices, as is usual, and avoid committing this harmful act of historic proportions.

Tories face large protest at party conference

Jessica Murray

Jessica Murray

A large crowd of protesters has gathered in Birmingham’s Victoria square, around the corner from where the Conservative party conference is taking place.

Rail union boss Mick Lynch, who is due to address the crowd this afternoon, said the rising cost of mortgages could mean “we have people on reasonable incomes facing homelessness in the future”. He went on:

You see all around you ordinary men and women who are desperate for a pay increase. I’m worried our communities are going to be impoverished, and if we don’t stand up to that it will be too late to stop this juggernaut of the right wing destroying our communities and creating division.

The government has to be stopped because they have an agenda which nobody voted for in this country.

Police had to step in keep back angry protesters as business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg walked to the conference via the edge of the protest site. (See 1.32pm.)

“We’d like a change of government, and we want more of a focus on policies that support everyday people rather than just the rich,” said Brianna, a protester from Birmingham who was with her three children, including five-year-old Dilly who was holding a placard saying “I want a better prime minister”.

Protesters stand with placards as they take part in a protest at Victoria Square on the first day of the Tory conference.
Protesters stand with placards as they take part in a protest at Victoria Square on the first day of the Tory conference. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Q: You said there would be 18 months until the next election. Do you mean it will be in May 2024.

Who know when it will be, says Berry.

You probably know, says Hope.

Berry says in the normal course of events it would be about 18 months away.

Q: Why should people in red wall seats back cutting the 45% top rate of tax

Because red wall seats will benefit most from extra growth, Berry says.

He says it is a mistake to think the red wall votes wanted a Labour-lite government. They wanted a Conservative government.

When people feel better off, they will support the government.

Q: Has the party failed to explain the need for the change?

Berry says it could have been done better.

Michael Gove has finished taking questions at the Telegraph fringe. Christopher Hope is now questioning Jake Berry, the Conservative party chairman.

Q: You are the 11th party chairman in 13 years. How long will you be in your job?

Berry says he hopes to stay in post until the election.

Q: What is your message to Michael Gove, who says the 45% top rate of tax should stay?

Berry says getting rid of it is the right decision. He says under Labour the top rate was 40%. Decisions will be made at the time about what will happen to people who vote against.

UPDATE: From Mail Online’s David Wilcock

Rees-Mogg booed by protesters shouting ‘Tory scum’ as he arrives at conference

Jacob Rees-Mogg was booed loudly by hundreds of protesters in Birmingham, PA Media reports. PA says:

The business secretary was escorted by several police officers as he walked across Victoria Square, where demonstrators had gathered to vent their anger at the Government as the Tory conference gets under way in the city.

The crowd pursued him, jeering and booing, with some shouting “Tory scum”.

Demonstrators furious at Liz Truss’s economic plan are carrying signs reading “unelected, unaccountable, unhinged” and “wages up, bills down, Tories out”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg escorted by police as he arrived at the Tory conference.
Jacob Rees-Mogg escorted by police as he arrived at the Tory conference. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

UPDATE: Here is some video footage from Birmingham Live’s Rhi Storer.

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