Truss ‘pledges the land’ to become UK PM, says Sunak


Rishi Sunak accused his rival in the Tory leadership of ‘promising the land to everyone’ as he played down polls suggesting he was set to be defeated by Liz Truss.

The former UK chancellor has also fueled speculation he could refuse to serve in any Truss administration if defeated, as he suggested ministers need to agree with a prime minister on ‘big things’ .

It comes as Britain’s Foreign Secretary, who is the favorite to replace Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister, has been told to be more transparent with her emergency budget plans to tackle the cost crisis of life.

Mr Sunak, in an extensive BBC Radio 2 interview, insisted he was getting a ‘warm welcome’ during his campaign even as he acknowledged some members of the Conservative Party were still angry with him for having left Mr Johnson’s government.

Mr Sunak said: “If I spent all my time watching the polls or reading the newspapers, I probably wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning to do all those things.”

“There is a group of people among our members, understandably, who are unhappy that I have resigned from the government,” he admitted.

But he dismissed suggestions that his campaign was not “politically savvy”, as he said he just wanted to be “honest” with voters about the state of Britain’s economy.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are in competition to become the next British Prime Minister (AP)

Ms Truss said she would present urgent plans to deal with rising energy bills if elected prime minister.

But Tory MP Mel Stride, who chairs the UK’s Commons Treasury Committee, questioned reports that she was not planning to ask the Independent Office for Budget Accountability for forecasts ahead of the measures she is planning for next month.

Mr Stride, a Sunak supporter, told LBC: ‘At this time Liz’s camp is saying I believe there will be no OBR forecasts produced at this time and that is a Kind of like flying blind.

“That means you’re doing all these dramatic things about taxes and so on, but you don’t really know what the impact on public finances will be, according to the independent forecaster, and I think it’s a pretty serious situation if it was happening.”

Asked if the OBR review would be bureaucratic in times of crisis, Mr Stride replied: ‘No. We ask for transparency and assurance that whatever wins this contest is affordable and not reckless.

Mr Sunak’s attacks on his opponent’s tax cut plans come as the race to succeed Mr Johnson enters its final fortnight.

Mr Sunak’s campaign had previously called on Ms Truss to ‘clean house’ and claimed her plans to borrow to fund tax cuts were ‘dangerous’.

He told the BBC: “Liz’s plans promise the land to everyone. I don’t think you can have your cake and eat it. I don’t think life is that simple and I think his plan is likely to make everything worse.

Chairman of Britain’s Treasury Select Committee, Mel Stride, said the measures proposed by the new Prime Minister must be ‘affordable and not reckless’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Truss argued that the tax cuts will help the UK economy grow and bring prosperity.

A spokesperson for the Truss campaign said: ‘The cost of living crisis means immediate action is needed.

“A Truss government would seek to act as soon as possible to help people across the UK, by cutting taxes and introducing a temporary energy tax moratorium.”

The OBR usually needs 10 weeks to carry out an analysis of the UK government’s economic proposals, such as the budget or the spring statement.

But an OBR spokesperson said: ‘We would be prepared to issue a forecast for the new chancellor, if they requested it.

This could be done before the usual 10 week wait, as was the case in October 2018 following Brexit negotiations and in November 2020 during the pandemic.

(PA graphics)

Senior Tories have criticized the Foreign Secretary’s economic plans, with former minister Michael Gove accusing him in a Times article of taking a “holiday away from reality”.

Yet critics so far appear to have done little to halt Ms Truss’s momentum, amid reports and rumors speculating on who could make up her cabinet if she wins.

Mr Sunak, who it was reported could be offered the health portfolio, laughed off the suggestion when presented to him during the BBC interview.

He also appeared to allude to concerns about the potential for cabinet clashes in such an administration.

“I’m not focused on all of this and I doubt Liz is,” he said.

“I’m not thinking about jobs for me or anyone else.

“One thing I’ve thought about a bit is that being in government, in cabinet, for the last couple of years, you really have to be okay with the big things.

“Because it’s hard, as I’ve found, when you don’t do it. And I wouldn’t want to find myself in a situation like that again.

Both candidates have come under increasing pressure to cope with rising costs, and Ms Truss signaled she could help businesses and households with rising energy bills with direct support this winter.

An energy company boss has called on the Tories to end the leadership race early to deal with rising bills.

Bill Bullen, managing director of Utilita, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Throughout the summer we have heard of customers in distress, of customers who are worried they won’t be able to heat their homes this winter.

“That’s why we’re saying to the government, you have to make this decision to freeze prices at their current level right now.

“It can’t wait for September 5 or 6. The Conservative Party needs to make do, decide who will be leader this week, so that Ofgem’s announcement on the 26th doesn’t have to happen. »

UK energy regulator Ofgem is set to announce the latest price cap on Friday, with forecasts it could rise from £1,971 (€2,328) to around £3,600 (€4,252).


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