Liz Truss’s 2022 Conservative party conference speech: fact checked

5 October 2022

At the Conservative conference today, party leader and Prime Minister Liz Truss gave the keynote speech, talking about her upbringing, the economic climate, healthcare and more. 

We fact check five of her claims below. You can watch back the whole speech or read a written copy

“I stand here today as the first Prime Minister of our country to have gone to a comprehensive school.”

This isn’t correct. At least one other previous Prime Minister attended a comprehensive school. Theresa May’s biography on the government website says that she received some private education, but also went to a comprehensive. This appears to be a reference to Wheatley Park, a former grammar school near Oxford that became a comprehensive in 1971, when Mrs May was 14. 

A spokesperson for Wheatley Park told Full Fact that Mrs May joined the school when she was 13 “when the Upper School site was still Holton Girls Grammar School, and left it after her Sixth Form by which time it was the Upper School site of Wheatley Park Comprehensive School. The school was officially a comprehensive from September 1971.”

A 2016 BBC report [0:30] on Mrs May’s school days refers to her as a pupil there in 1974.

Gordon Brown’s former school, Kirkcaldy High, is now a comprehensive, but we’ve not yet been able to independently verify whether this was true when Mr Brown attended. The Spectator has previously reported that it was a grammar at the time, and The Times has said that he was selected to go there as part of a fast track scheme.

After the speech, Wales Secretary Robert Buckland also told Sky News that Ms Truss was “the first Prime Minister to have gone to a comprehensive school”. We’ve contacted the Conservative party to ask about Ms Truss’s and Mr Buckland’s claim.

“Inflation is high across the world’s major economies”

It is true that the aftermath of the pandemic saw prices rising globally and that they then climbed again following the Russian invasion of Ukraine

That said, inflation is higher in the UK than in most other major economies. 

The UK saw double-digit inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index) for the first time in 40 years in July, reaching 10.1%..

As of August, the UK inflation rate is the highest in the G7. Japan currently has the lowest inflation rate in the G7 at 3%. 

“We are keeping corporation tax at 19%, the lowest in the G20.”

Corporation tax is a tax on company profits.

In the recent mini-Budget, chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng said corporation tax rates would remain at 19%. They had been set to rise to 25% in April 2023, as previously announced by the former chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Ms Truss’s latest claim is true if you compare the UK to the other individual countries in the G20. 

However, the European Union is also a member of the G20 and there are quite a few countries in the EU where the rate of corporation tax is lower than 19%—for example Ireland, where the rate is set at 12.5%

“Our fantastic Deputy Prime Minister and health secretary will deliver for patients so they can expect a GP appointment within two weeks.”

This claim refers to the government’s recent pledge on GP access. In a policy paper published last month outlining plans for the NHS in England, it said it would “set the expectation that everyone who needs an appointment with their practice within two weeks can get one”. 

There was confusion at the time as to whether this two-week waiting time was a target, requirement or just an expectation, with the Daily Express, for example, reporting that “Your doctor must see you in two weeks”. But the Department for Health and Social Care confirmed to Full Fact that the two-week waiting time is an “expectation”—so there’s no guarantee patients will definitely get an appointment within two weeks.

As a devolved matter, the UK Government is only primarily responsible for healthcare in England. 

The government also plans to publish data “showing exactly how many appointments each practice in England is delivering and how long people wait between booking an appointment and receiving one”.

“By the end of the year all EU red tape will be consigned to history.”

If by “EU red tape” Ms Truss is referring to retained EU law— EU laws which were transferred onto UK statute books following Brexit— her claim that it will be “consigned to history” by the end of the year would appear to contradict the government’s official policy.

The Brexit Freedoms Bill, introduced by business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg last month, sets out that all retained EU law which has not been amended, repealed or replaced by 31 December 2023 will be automatically “sunset”.

However it appears that Ms Truss may have misspoken, as the official transcript for her speech reads “by the end of next year”, which would be 2023.

Number 10 has also since confirmed to the Daily Mirror’s online political editor Dan Bloom that the deadline remains December 2023. We’ve contacted the Conservative Party to confirm this.

The confusion may have arisen because some time before she spoke about EU red tape, Ms Truss referred to a global investment summit taking place next year. In full, she said: “Next year we will host the global investment summit. This will show the world's top investors there's nowhere better to invest than the UK. 

“And we're seizing the newfound freedoms outside the European Union. We're the party who got Brexit done, and we will realise on the promise of Brexit. We're building an economy which makes the most of the huge opportunities Brexit offers. 

“By the end of the year all EU red tape will be consigned to history. Instead we will ensure that regulation is pro-business and pro-growth.”

Image courtesy of the Prime Minister’s Office

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