UK cost-of-living protests as Tories defend contentious tax-cut plans

3. UK
Protesters march with a banner at a protest by Just Stop Oil cli-mate activists in London on October 1, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

LONDON — Protesters rallied in London and elsewhere around Britain on Saturday over the cost-of-living crisis, as the ruling Conservatives geared up for their annual conference insisting their debt-fueled tax-slashing plans were “credible”.اضافة اعلان

Thousands of demonstrators aligned with various causes and organizations — including environmentalists Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil as well as inflation-focused group “Don’t Pay UK” — blocked roads and bridges in London.

People chanting “can’t pay, won’t pay” burned mock energy statements, as huge price increases to electricity and gas bills came into effect at midnight Friday.

The government has capped the rise at roughly 27 percent for the next two years — meaning the average household will pay annual bills of around £2,500 — following several previous dramatic spikes over the last year.

But that could still prove unaffordable for many, and comes amid decades-high inflation that has pushed up the cost of petrol, food, and numerous other everyday essentials.

Demonstrators demanding more action to tackle the climate emergency also attended, with the “Just Stop Oil” group demanding the UK government stop all new oil and gas extraction.

‘Iron grip’

Meanwhile, protesters turned out in Birmingham to rally against the handling of the situation by the ruling Tories, who kick off their annual conference in the central English city on Sunday.

Following a week of turmoil on financial markets prompted by their September 23 minibudget, under-fire Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng arrive on the defensive over the economic package.

The tax-slashing plans, which will dramatically increase government borrowing, went further than many expected, abolishing the top rate of income tax and lifting a cap on bankers’ bonuses.

It prompted the pound to drop to its lowest ever level against the dollar.

After nearly a week of silence, Truss faced a grueling round of BBC radio and regional television interviews Thursday, before penning an article in The Sun published overnight.

In it, she conceded for the first time that the plans had prompted “short-term disruption” but vowed to press on with them and handle public money with “an iron grip”.

However, Britons and economic analysts appear unconvinced.

A poll Friday found just over half think both Truss and Kwarteng should resign — less than four weeks after they took office.

Support for the minibudget has been in the single digits in some surveys.

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