Protesters from the environmental group Greenpeace were expelled from the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday after disrupting British Prime Minister Liz Truss’ first speech as leader.
Two activists waved a flag that read “Who voted for this? before being escorted out of the Birmingham Conference Center by security guards as the crowd booed.
“Let’s get them removed,” Truss said, to applause. Truss joked after they pulled out that the “anti-growth coalition” came to the room “a little too soon.”
Greenpeace confirmed that its activists were responsible for the protest. In a Tweeterthe group said the campaigners were there to “denounce the Prime Minister who is ‘shredding’ his party’s 2019 manifesto promises”.
“The Prime Minister is backtracking on fracking, strong climate action and leading environmental protections. Who voted for this?
The conference was taking place amid open dissent from the party following a strident U-turn on Monday on a proposal to cut the top rate of UK income tax – an announcement that sent the pound to historic lows and triggered market chaos. The move was seen as callous aid to the wealthy as Britons navigate the worst cost of living crisis in decades.
Truss, who became prime minister a month ago to the day after taking over from Boris Johnson, began her speech by saying the country is in a new era in the face of a global economic crisis and that “in these difficult times, we need to step up. ”
“We are meeting at a vital time for the UK,” she said, adding “these are stormy days”.
“We are facing the global economic crisis caused by the Covid and by Putin’s appalling war in Ukraine. In these difficult times, we must step up our efforts,” she also said.
“I am determined to get Britain moving,” she added, and “to put us on a stronger footing as a nation.”
Truss criticized the “anti-growth coalition” which included “some of the people we had in the room earlier”.
She added: “Economic growth makes us strong at home and strong abroad and we need an economically strong and secure UK, which means challenging those who try to stop growth.”
The Prime Minister was delivering his speech as Tory MPs feared that the combination of tax cuts and huge public spending to help people cope with energy bills, rising inflation, rising interest rates and the fall of the pound will make winning the next general election impossible.
“I won’t let the anti-growth coalition hold us back,” Truss said. “Labour, Lib Dems, SNP, militant unions, interest groups disguised as think tanks, talking heads, Brexit deniers, Extinction Rebellion and some of the people we had in the room earlier.
“The fact is that they would rather protest than do. They would rather talk on Twitter than make tough decisions.
“They taxi from North London townhouses to the BBC studio to fire anyone who challenges the status quo.
“From broadcast to podcast, they peddle the same old answers. It’s always more taxes, more regulation and more interference. Fake, fake, fake.
Truss took the stage at the music conference to the 1990s hit, “Moving on Up,” by M People. Later, the band’s founder, Mike Pickering, tweeted his opposition to the song’s use by conservatives. “So apparently we can’t stop Truss from marching to our song, very weird! So sad he was used by this shower of a government” he wrote.