'Disruptor in chief' Norfolk MP attacks own cabinet colleagues
PUBLISHED: 08:57 27 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:57 27 June 2018
A Norfolk MP has launched a broadside at government red tape singling out environment secretary Michael Gove.
South West Norfolk’s Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, issued a series of thinly-veiled attacks on cabinet colleagues during a speech at the London School of Economics.
Hitting out at the policy to ban plastic straws – championed by Mr Gove and prime minister Theresa May – Ms Truss said it was “hard to shake the feeling” that rules “get in the way of consumers’ choices and lifestyles”.
She highlighted messages about healthy living and not “drinking from disposable cups through plastic straws”.
Mr Gove has made tackling plastic waste a key plank of the Tory strategy to help clean up the environment.
But Ms Truss – who claimed her role in government was “disruptor in chief” – joked about the environment secretary’s plans, including measures to tackle air pollution.
“Many of the rules that we have in place are important in guaranteeing public safety,” she said. “But it’s hard to shake the feeling that sometimes they just get in the way of consumers’ choices and lifestyles. And government’s role should not be to tell us what our tastes should be.
“Too often we’re hearing about not drinking too much, eating too many doughnuts, drinking from disposable cups through plastic straw, or enjoying the warm glow of our wood-burning Goves... I mean stoves.
“I can see their point: there’s enough hot air and smoke at the Environment Department already.”
She added: “Unnecessary red tape restricts business and consumer freedom, so I believe we should cut it wherever we can.”
Ms Truss also called for more action to build homes, claiming “restrictions on building are holding cities up”.
She said urban development rules in Japan were relaxed in the early 2000s “giving people the freedom to change their property as they see fit” and “commercial developers are free to do as they please in designated zones”.
She claimed that as a result property prices in Tokyo have been much flatter than in London.
“It’s restrictions that are causing problems, so we need to liberate,” she said.
“We should densify our built environment and look at making it easier for local neighbourhoods to raise the height of their houses.”
She also said higher taxes to pay for spending increases would be a “complete contradiction of the Brexit vote” in an apparent jibe at defence secretary Gavin Williamson and home secretary Sajid Javid who have reportedly been pushing for extra cash.
Ms Truss added: “We have to recognise that it’s not macho just to demand more money. It’s much tougher to demand better value and challenge the blob of vested interests within your department.
“Some of my colleagues are not being clear about the tax implications of their proposed higher spending.”
A Tory source said: “Liz has form for misplaced humour in her speeches. This kind of thing is not helpful – but I doubt Michael will be worried in the slightest.”