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Faith groups campaign on poverty and climate at Conservative party conference

07 October 2022

Prime Minister describes tax-cutting policy as morally and economically right


The Prime Minister delivers her keynote speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, on Wednesday

The Prime Minister delivers her keynote speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, on Wednesday

FAITH groups were present on the fringes of the Conservative Party Conference this week to advocate for people experiencing poverty in the UK and around the world.

The Conference was held at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham, from Sunday until Wednesday. On Monday, the Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, whose mini-Budget provoked anger and disquiet from campaigners (News, 30 September), announced a U-turn on plans to scrap the 45p rate of income tax for high earners.

In a keynote speech to the Conference on Wednesday morning, however, the Prime Minister described the general policy of cutting taxes as morally and economically right. “I believe that you know best how to spend your own money, to get on in life and realise your ambitions,” she declared.

Ms Truss said that, by the end of the year, “all EU red tape will be consigned to history”. She also promised legislation to ensure that no European judge could overturn the Government as it took “decisive action to strengthen the borders”.

Greenpeace protesters interrupted the speech, waving a banner declaring, “Who voted for this?” before being ejected.

The Conservative Environment Network hosted an event on Tuesday, at which Tearfund’s disaster-response manager for Southern and Eastern Africa, Elizabeth Myendo, spoke of the effect that prolonged drought was having on women and girls in East Africa.

“We’re seeing a level of drought that we have never seen before,” she told an audience that included the Minister for Development in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Vicky Ford. “Women are having to travel longer distances to find water and food. Because of that, they are experiencing sexual violence.”

“We need to act today. . . Women in East Africa are very resilient, and, if we can give them the right support, they will be able to pull themselves and their communities through this period of intense drought.”

Ms Ford described the situation in the Horn of Africa as “the worst humanitarian situation in the world” for which action was urgently needed.

She acknowledged: “There are 50 million people on the brink of famine in 46 countries across the world. I’ve never seen it like this, not in decades. . . Women are affected more, and we need to recognise that.” The UK had pledged £11.6 billion to counter climate change, she said.

The Conservative Christian Fellowship (CCF) invited the Trussell Trust’s chief executive, Emma Revie, to speak at a prayer breakfast on Monday, on the theme “How can Christians help build more resilient communities?”

She told the gathering: “We do need to be clear that there is a role for government at all levels, churches, and individuals, in building resilience in our communities. As Christians who are involved in politics, our role is to think about how each of these strands can play a role in building resilience, and how both government and our churches can work together to address poverty and destitution.”

The CCF and Conservative Muslim Forum combined to hold an interfaith reception on Sunday to “recognise and appreciate religious communities for their valuable contributions to society on a local, national, and international level”.

Read more on the story from Paul Vallely

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