Is Boris Johnson’s government really conservative? In the wake of Boris’s plan to break a manifesto pledge and raise tax, it’s a question many have been asking – and one that a speech today by International Trade secretary Liz Truss aims to address. Truss – who has been tipped for a possible promotion to the Foreign Office amid rumours of a reshuffle – will use the event at Policy Exchange to outline Britain’s new trade policy.
Truss will link the UK’s trade policy with the government’s flagship domestic agenda: levelling up. She is expected to say that the ‘path to economic revival does not lie in retreating and retrenching, but in free trade and free enterprise. British employers can only benefit from free trade by selling their products, innovation, capital, and ideas overseas’.
Her speech will also point to what Truss views as one of the boons of an independent trade policy: lower prices for consumers. She will say:
‘Across the world, we see disrupted supply chains, labour shortages and costs rising. Trade has an important role in keeping prices down. Research by Princeton University estimates that the average British consumer would lose a third of their income in real terms without trade. Closing ourselves off to the global market would be even worse for the poorest ten per cent in our society, slashing their income in half. That is because those on lower incomes spend a greater share of their money on imported goods like food and clothing. Make no mistake, protectionism is no way to protect people’s living standards. At this critical time, we need trade to curb any rise in the cost of living through the power of economic openness.’
The comments will cement Truss’s position as an advocate for a free market approach to trade.