British prime minister Liz Truss was lost for words at points as she faced her first round of interviews with the press following the economic fallout of the mini-budget.
Ms Truss engaged in a lengthy pause on one occasion when asked by a local BBC radio station about the impact of her tax-cutting agenda on people’s mortgages.
Ms Truss also claimed she would lobby her own health secretary and deputy, Therese Coffey, in an attempt to see the roof of one of her constituency’s nearest hospitals replaced.
As Ms Truss defended government borrowing aimed at cutting taxes to promote economic growth and provide aid with rising energy bills, BBC Radio Stoke’s presenter pointed out mortgage fees were rising by more than the amount people would save from the energy support.
After a silence, Ms Truss replied: “I don’t think anybody is arguing that we shouldn’t have acted on energy.”
Asked by BBC Radio Norfolk whether she could guarantee the west Norfolk town of King’s Lynn would get a new hospital, she said she would lobby Ms Coffey, the deputy prime minister.
On BBC Radio Lancashire, Ms Truss was unable to define what “local consent” for fracking would look like.
Asked by the presenter for details of how shale gas extraction in the county could be affected by public feeling, Ms Truss said: “The energy secretary will be laying out in more detail exactly what that looks like, but it does mean making sure there is local support for going ahead.”
Questions from BBC Radio Kent listeners included: “What on earth were you thinking?” and “Are you ashamed of what you’ve done?”, the show’s presenter said.
Ms Truss replied: “We were going into the winter with people expected to face fuel bills of up to £6,000, huge rates of inflation, slowing economic growth. We’ve taken action to make sure that from this weekend, people won’t be paying a typical fuel bill of more than £2,500.”
Ms Truss was later accused by BBC Radio Bristol’s presenter of giving the “same scripted answer” to every local radio station as she answered questions about the Bank of England’s intervention on Wednesday.
Ms Truss reiterated the UK was facing a “very, very difficult economic situation” as a result of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Reacting to Ms Truss’s broadcast round, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said the prime minister had “finally broken her long painful silence with a series of short painful silences”.