TORY leadership hopeful Liz Truss has faced brutal criticism following the revelation that she once said British workers need “more graft” and suggested they lack the “skill and application” of foreign competitors.

In a leaked recording made while Truss was chief secretary to the Treasury and reported by the Guardian newspaper, Truss referred disparagingly to the productivity levels of British workers, saying: “Essentially it’s partly a mindset and attitude thing, I think. It’s working culture, basically. If you go to China it’s quite different, I can assure you.”

Truss went on to say that there was a “fundamental issue of British working culture”, adding: “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.

The National:

“There’s a slight thing in Britain about wanting the easy answers. That’s my reflection on the election and what’s gone before it, and the referendum – we say it’s all Europe that’s causing these huge problems… it’s all these migrants causing these problems. But actually what needs to happen is more… more graft. It’s not a popular message.”

Speaking to The National, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) general secretary Roz Foyer responded to Truss’ remarks, commenting: “There’s not enough Brasso in the world to cover the brass neck of Liz calling for ‘more graft’ from workers whilst her boss has been MIA since sticking his notice in last month.

“It was workers’ graft that got us through the pandemic. Their toil. Their sacrifice. Their labour. Their heroics. If Liz wants to call for better application within the workplace, she can start with the UK Government.”

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Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth also condemned Truss’ comments, describing them as “offensive nonsense” and drawing comparisons with the book Britannia Unchained, which Truss co-authored and infamously described British workers as being among the “worst idlers in the world”, although Truss has maintained her co-writer Dominic Raab wrote the chapter in question.

Former health secretary Sajid Javid, who is supporting Truss for the Tory leadership, told Good Morning Britain that he thought the leaked comments were being “taken out of context” before admitting: “I don’t know exactly the context they were made [in].”

However, when addressing the comments again on BBC Radio 4, Javid emphasised that “when it comes to British workers, they’re the most hardworking in the world.”