Liz Truss news – latest: Fracking U-turn means communities ‘treated like guinea pigs’

Liz Truss thanks Joe Biden for support during death of Queen Elizabeth

The government’s decision to lift its fracking moratorium means that people living in rural areas will be treated “like guinea pigs”, critics have said.

On Thursday, business and energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said the move would increase the country’s energy security and would drive down bills.

But politicians and environmental campaigners pointed out that ministers have yet to release evidence that drilling for shale gas is safe. They also said it was “nonsense” that fracking would drive down energy bills.

“That they choose to plough on regardless shows a callous disregard for our communities and countryside. From Surrey to Somerset, the government is treating people in rural areas like guinea pigs,” Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said.

Speaking in the Commons, shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband said the policy could lead to earthquakes, adding that people in counties like Lancashire and Dorset would be part of a “dangerous experiment”.

Addressing the U-turn directly, he said: “Let me tell the party opposite: we will hang this broken promise around their necks in every part of the country between now and the next general election.”

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Good morning! Welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of UK politics on 22 September 2022. Stay tuned for the latest!

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Truss and Biden discuss ‘priority’ of preserving NI protocol

Prime minister Liz Truss held her first meeting with US president Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, where the two discussed the “priority” of preserving peace in the Northern Ireland protocol.

“We both are committed to protecting the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. I’m looking forward to hearing what’s on your mind and how we can continue to cooperate,” Mr Biden told Ms Truss ahead of their talks.

Ms Truss told him: “And of course, I’m looking forward to discussing the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and how we make sure that’s upheld into the future.”

Threats by the UK to override parts of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol have caused tensions between Britain and Washington.

Ms Truss’s spokesperson said she and Mr Biden only had a “short discussion” about Northern Ireland as part of a wide-ranging conversation dominated by the war in Ukraine.

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Economic strength can help counter authoritarianism, Truss says

Economic strength in democracies could help push back authoritarianism, Liz Truss said in her first international speech as prime minister, also defending her plans for economic reform as a boost to the free world.

Ms Truss is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which she addressed last night, calling for like-minded nations to combat authoritarianism together.

As well as securing energy independence from Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, Ms Truss highlighted how her own plans for lower taxes in Britain – for individuals and corporations – were aimed at winning a “new era of strategic competition.”

“We want people to keep more of the money they earn, so they can have more control of their own lives and contribute to the future,” Ms Truss told the annual gathering of world leaders.

“We’re reforming our economy to get Britain moving and we want to work with our allies so we can all move forward together,” she said.

“The free world needs this economic strength and resilience to push back against authoritarian aggression and win this new era of strategic competition.”

Truss speaks to journalists at the Empire State Building

(PA)

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Truss considers moving British embassy to Jerusalem

Liz Truss has told her Israeli counterpart she is reviewing moving the British embassy in Tel Aviv to the contested holy city of Jerusalem.

The prime minister raised following Donald Trump on the possible move with Yair Lapid during a meeting at the United Nations summit in New York yesterday.

Britain has long maintained its Israel embassy in Tel Aviv despite Israel designating Jerusalem as its capital.
Mr Trump, when president, sparked controversy by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem in 2017.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said Ms Truss informed Mr Lapid “about her review of the current location of the British Embassy in Israel”.

Ms Truss said she understood the “importance and sensitivity” over its location.

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Biden state visit to UK ‘being considered for 2023’

British diplomats are eyeing a first state visit for US president Joe Biden linked to the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next year.

The King would host Mr Biden around the time of a possible European trip for celebrations of the 1998 peace deal that helped end 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland.

Mr Biden, vocally proud of his roots in Ireland and the US’s role in brokering the agreement, would likely be keen to visit the island of Ireland to mark the anniversary.

Here’s more from Sam Blewett:

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Truss defends possible Tory manifesto breach over fracking

The prime minister stressed the energy crisis is the “number one issue we face” as she defended potentially breaching a Tory manifesto pledge to lift the fracking ban.

Liz Truss insisted she will not authorise “anything that carries a risk” but the government is yet to produce evidence showing hydraulic shale gas extraction is safe.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto pledged not to lift England’s moratorium unless fracking was scientifically proven to be safe amid concerns over earthquakes.

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Truss’s plan risks ‘unsustainable’ public debt, IFS warns

Liz Truss’s plans for swingeing tax cuts alongside a massive government support package to cap soaring energy bills risks putting the public finances on an “unsustainable path”, a leading think tank has warned.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has calculated that the combination of higher spending and tax cuts means Government borrowing is set to hit £100 billion a year – more than double the official forecasts last March.

With debt potentially set on an “ever-rising path”, the IFS said the government’s claim that reducing tax rates would lead to sustained economic growth was “a gamble at best”.

IFS deputy director Carl Emmerson said: “Under the new prime minister’s plans, the fiscal targets legislated in January would be missed and while we would get to enjoy lower taxes now, ever-increasing debt would eventually prove unsustainable.”

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Kwasi Kwarteng to cut benefits if part-time workers don’t do more hours

More than 100,000 people in part-time work could face a benefit cut if they do not seek more hours, the chancellor is expected to announce.

Kwasi Kwarteng will reveal a significant shake-up of the welfare system during his “mini-budget” on Friday.

Unless claimants take “active steps” to increase earnings, their Universal Credit payments could be reduced.

My colleague Adam Forrest has more details:

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Voluntary ‘real living wage’ rises to £10.90 an hour

Almost 400,000 employees are set to receive a pay rise after an increase “real living wage” agreed by thousands of businesses and organisations has been brought forward.

The hourly rates for the living wage are rising by £1 to £10.90 across the UK and by 90p to £11.95 in London.

The rates are higher than the government’s statutory £9.50 an hour for adults, and are paid by more than 11,000 employers accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

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If Truss’s ‘mini-Budget’ doesn’t create growth, her whole project could be doomed

Liz Truss’s whole project could be in jeopardy if her “mini-budget” doesn’t create growth, writes Andrew Grice.

It is expected that her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will rip up the economic playbook that has guided the Conservatives since they took power in 2010.

On Friday, he will announce a mixture of tax cuts and economic reforms, with the aim of securing growth of 2.5 per cent per year.

However, critics suggest that his borrowing plans could heap more pressure on the ailing economy.

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