Mayor Andy Street has insisted he does not regret backing Liz Truss for Tory party leader, but he does regret how things have happened, saying: “it didn’t need to be like this”.
The West Midlands Mayor was responding to questions at a West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Overview and Scrutiny panel meeting yesterday morning (Thursday, October 20). The purpose of the meeting was for panel members, which is made up of members of the WMCA, to put questions relating to policy to the mayor.
Birmingham councillor for Quinton ward Lauren Rainbow asked Mr Street: “Do you regret so publicly backing Liz Truss? Given that the budgetary consequences of her economic policies will fall to the combined authority, it’s going to fall to the local authorities, I am keen to get your thoughts.”
Mr Street responded: “That’s very fair. I hope what people have learnt about me is that I will try to be as honest as I can. I don’t regret backing her, but I do regret how some of the things have worked out over the last six weeks, because it didn’t need to be like this. Some of the things around cost of living would have happened whoever was prime minister.
“The increase in energy prices was happening well before she was elected. I do believe that what she has done, in terms of the energy support, both for individuals and small businesses, I do think she has acted decisively to address that.
“We do know that it’s only for six months and there is a very legitimate question as to whether that can be sustained, but that is the bit I think has been done well.
“The bit that I have a regret about is that, even though, of course it’s true that interest rates are going up globally – if we were sitting in the US or France or Germany, they are all facing the same situation – it’s definitely true the failure to manage the markets at the mini budget has aggravated what is a national issue.
“I am a huge believer in Jeremy Hunt. He was my first choice for leader of the party, I voted for him three years ago, I know him well, I think he’s a really high class cabinet member.
“So I am very pleased that he is now in that role and we must all hope that he is able in the next two weeks to bring forward the national budget that calms the markets and begins to turn that interest rate down, because that has a direct impact on the wellbeing of the people in this region.”
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