JACOB Rees-Mogg has defended Liz Truss for her widely criticised comments that British workers need to display “more graft”.

The Brexit opportunities minister described the Tory leadership hopeful remarks heard in a leaked audio recording as “sensible” as he hit out at what he called “confected political criticism” of the Foreign Secretary.

Truss, now the frontrunner in the race to succeed Boris Johnson, also attempted to explain the lower productivity seen outside London as being due to “a mindset and attitude thing”, in the comments from recent years.

The National Wales: Jacob Rees-Mogg has backed Liz Truss for calling out supposed a lack of 'graft' among UK workersJacob Rees-Mogg has backed Liz Truss for calling out supposed a lack of 'graft' among UK workers

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

But Rees-Mogg said: “Liz Truss’s sensible comments about poor productivity in the British economy attracted confected political criticism but they reflect an unfortunate reality in much of the British state.”

In comments reported by the Mail on Sunday, he added: “This is not good for the Government, or for the public as a whole.”

Truss, who is widely expected to beat Rishi Sunak to become the next prime minister, was heard making the comments in audio obtained by the Guardian.

While chief secretary to the Treasury, a role she held between 2017 and 2019, Truss said: “There’s a fundamental issue of British working culture.

“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.”

She added 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.”

Truss also said that productivity was “very, very different in London from the rest of the country”, claiming this was “partly a mindset and attitude thing”.