Sunak admits ‘catching up’ with Truss in apparent bid for underdog status

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Rishi Sunak has admitted he was “playing catch-up” to Liz Truss as he seemingly claims sought-after status as an outsider in the Tory leadership race.

The 42-year-old hinted at the fallout from his wife’s tax status when he appeared to suggest a comment claimed he ‘wouldn’t even have been in this contest’ if she hadn’t announced his decision to pay UK tax on her. returned from overseas while still Chancellor in April.

As Britain’s Foreign Secretary continued to beat him in the polls, Mr Sunak’s weekend was characterized by his promise to end ‘woke nonsense’ and his supporters blaming his unpopularity on ‘latent racism’ – a claim he was quick to dispute as incorrect. .

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Sunak also revealed his NHS reform plan would include a temporary £10 fine for patients who fail to show up for a GP or outpatient appointment.

“If we have people who don’t show up and take those slots from people who need them, that’s not good,” he told the newspaper. “I’m all for a healthcare system that’s free at the point of use, but not free at the point of misuse.”

He added: “Yes, that means we have to do something brave and different, but that’s what I’m about to do. I want to be a transformational prime minister.

When such proposals have surfaced in the past, doctors have warned that a system of fines could create a new layer of bureaucracy that medical practices would struggle to cope with.

Rishi Sunak meets Conservative members at Fontwell Park Racecourse as part of his campaign to become Conservative Party leader and next Prime Minister (Joe Sene/PA)

Meanwhile, Ms Truss played down claims she had a clear lead over Mr Sunak, even as her campaign was still buoyed by the endorsements of party heavyweight Tom Tugendhat, insisting he was acted a “very, very close race”, while trumpeting his “right-wing support”. in all components of the Conservative Party.

Earlier on Saturday, in another bid to revive his declining premiership, the former chancellor pledged to cut the number of empty shops on Britain’s high streets and crack down on graffiti and littering.

Mr Sunak also pledged to expand police powers to tackle anti-social behavior in public spaces.

As part of his plan to rejuvenate high streets, many of which are blighted by shuttered shops and derelict buildings, Mr Sunak would remove barriers so that these properties are quickly converted into new businesses or cafes.

It would allow local authorities to double the fine for litter and graffiti and consider lowering the damages threshold for offenders to be jailed.

Mr Sunak would strengthen orders that allow police to disperse people behaving antisocially and expand powers to apply to types of behavior rather than just one location.

It would also seek to reduce regulations around farmers’ markets, require local authorities to assess social value when considering the location of public services and protect access to ATMs.

Mr Sunak said: “I want to reduce the number of empty shops by 2025 and ensure they become thriving local assets, supporting skills, local businesses, economies and creating jobs.

Rishi Sunak has pledged to fine NHS patients £10 for failing to show up for a GP or outpatient appointment (Joe Sene/PA)

“They will be joined by vital public services – such as police stations and employment agencies.

“I will also be supporting covered markets and farmers’ markets, making it as easy as possible for them to trade on our high streets and sell their fantastic produce to local people.

“We should all be proud of our main streets, so I will also be cracking down on anti-social behaviour, graffiti and littering – with expanded police powers and increased fines.

“I have been clear that I have a plan to rebuild our economy; our main streets are a crucial part of this.

Mr Sunak and his rival in the race for No 10 have faced calls from a group of the UK’s biggest retailers to cut commercial tariffs.

The Retail Jobs Alliance – which includes Tesco, Greggs and Sainsbury’s – last week accused the candidates of failing to prioritize the high street as businesses are hammered by the so-called shop tax amid a galloping inflation.

CBI Director General Tony Danker has also called for urgent reform of the corporate pricing system.

As chancellor, Mr Sunak provided business rate relief during the pandemic and oversaw a property tax review, but no sweeping reform followed.

Ms Truss has indicated she will revise business tariffs if she becomes prime minister.

A BMG Research poll of party loyalists for the newspaper i was the latest to put Ms Truss ahead of Mr Sunak with a double-digit lead, a survey of Tory advisers saw the two contenders almost neck and neck.

Ms Truss was at 31% and Mr Sunak at 28% among 511 local Conservative politicians polled by Savanta ComRes.

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