Business and political leaders react to appointment of Liz Truss as new PM

Liz Truss

Liz Truss has been confirmed as the new leader of the Conservative Party, and Prime Minister.

Ms Truss received 81,326 votes from Conservative Party members, compared with 60,399 for her rival, former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, on an 82% turnout.

Business and political leaders from across the region have offered their take on how they believe the appointment will play out and what should be the priorities for the new leader.

Joanne Anderson, Liverpool Mayor, said: “After a contest that has dragged on for far too long, I hope that Liz Truss is now able to get on with the job and focus on the stark problems affecting the country. With inflation set to remain in double digits and energy prices soaring, she needs to turn her attention to putting together real and significant support to help families, business and community organisations.

“For levelling up to be more than a slogan we need to see real and tangible progress in redressing the chronic imbalances between North and South. We need to see spending on infrastructure, along with money injected into disappearing towns and investment in training and apprenticeships for our young people.

“Liverpool has lost £465m of funding in the last decade. Day after day, we deliver vital services to our residents across the city. It’s about time government stepped up and worked with us to ensure we can deliver the best that our residents deserve.”

Neil Murray, CEO of Liverpool-based Impact Data Metrics, said: “After six months of stasis it’s critically important that the new Prime Minister restores both integrity and functionality to government.

“The paralysis we’ve seen has damaged public and private sector decision making and investment, denting local authorities’ and private businesses’ ability to tackle some of the major underlying challenges in the UK, such as the housing crisis.

“Obviously addressing the cost of living crisis will be top of the agenda. I would argue that one way forward is targeted, evidence-based investment interventions in projects to stimulate growth and jobs. I believe the levelling up agenda still has traction and can yet have the desired impact on the North as long as investment decisions are based on the right metrics.”

Prof Janet Hemingway, founding director of the Liverpool-based iiCON Consortium which works with business to accelerate the development of new products and innovations in infection control, said: “We wish the new government every success in meeting the challenges of our time.

“We were due to show the Science Minister around iiCON’s labs in Liverpool the day Boris Johnson resigned and plan to reinitiate a Ministerial conversation soon. The knowledge-based economy will be critical in achieving Levelling Up goals such as boosting productivity and creating high value jobs.

“Certainly, in Liverpool City Region, great strides have been made in bringing together the intellectual capital the city already has in its universities, businesses, and research institutions working towards an ambitious target of R&D making up five per cent of regional GVA – iiCON is part of that story and since our launch we have already enabled 14 consumer products to get to market, helped secure £200m of funding for innovation related to infection control and supported the creation of 176 jobs related to the sector.

“We believe the UK regions have a huge role to play in helping the UK respond to the challenges of our times. In health, strategic investment will generate better patient outcomes, future-proof the UK economy and create great job opportunities.”

Lytham-based lobbying organisation, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), demanded action on the energy crisis.

FSB development manager in Greater Manchester, Robert Downes, said: “We don’t have the luxury to wait until the winter and inaction from our new Prime Minister could spell the end for many businesses.

“There can be no dithering or delay on something as critical as this – solutions for which should ideally have already been in place.

“Price hikes of three, four, or five-times are not sustainable, and unlike domestic consumers, small firms are not protected by a price cap, and so far they have not been offered direct financial support to match that being given to households.”

Adrian Young, a tax partner at North West accounting and business advisory firm Hurst, said: “The new Prime Minister is going to find delivering on her tax promises much harder than grandstanding to the Tory faithful.”

Chris Fletcher, policy and campaigns director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is vital that, after weeks of dither and inactivity, Ms Truss takes immediate decisive action to help people and businesses right across the country. There are a variety of options available from VAT cuts on energy, specialist price tariffs, grants or more drastic intervention along the scale and lines we saw during the pandemic. The seriousness of the situation cannot be underestimated and nothing should be ruled out at this stage.

“It’s important though that the new government doesn’t just focus all its attention on this one issue, as important as it is. Everywhere you look and every business we talk to it feels like there is something that needs ‘fixing’. The impact of Brexit still resonates with many, staff recruitment is proving evermore difficult and large parts of the transport network – especially on the West Coast mainline and trans pennine rail routes – is an utter shambles with underinvestment and a litany of broken promises.

“There are no silver bullet solutions, but there will have to be a much more realistic approach taken than some of the promises we have heard throughout the hustings period. Simple tax cuts and soundbites about future economic growth won’t pay the energy bills people will be getting over the next few weeks. Any new premiership starts with hope but people’s patience is wearing very thin and any honeymoon period will be short lived if changes aren’t felt quickly.”