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Jacob Rees-Mogg backs Liz Truss’s claim UK workers need ‘more graft’

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a key ally of Liz Truss, has defended the Tory leadership frontrunner’s suggestion that British workers need “more graft” as “sensible”.

Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, told the Mail on Sunday that her comments reflected “poor productivity in the British economy”.

He said they “attracted confected political criticism but they reflect an unfortunate reality in much of the British state”, adding: “This is not good for the government, or for the public as a whole.”

Rees-Mogg has been tipped for a cabinet position in a Truss government – perhaps as levelling up or trade secretary.

Truss’s remarks from her time as a Treasury minister in 2017-19 were leaked to the Guardian last week. In the comments, she attempted to explain the lower productivity seen outside London as being due to “a mindset and attitude thing”.

“There’s a fundamental issue of British working culture,” she said. “Essentially, if we’re going to be a richer country and a more prosperous country, that needs to change. But I don’t think people are that keen to change that.”

Truss added that there was a “slight thing in Britain about wanting the easy answers”, before saying: “But actually what needs to happen is more … more graft. It’s not a popular message.”

Asked about her remarks this weekend, Truss told the Sun on Sunday: “I’ve always been passionate about helping our country become more successful. I want people to have opportunities. Of course I believe in hard work.

“I want our government to be on the side of people that work hard who set up their own businesses.”

Labour has said Truss’s remarks made while she was a Treasury minister were “grossly offensive”, saying that she had effectively called British workers “lazy”.

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