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Rishi Sunak calls Liz Truss' economic policies ‘complacent’ in penultimate campaign week

Sunak and Truss are the two final candidates for the leadership of the UK’s Conservative Party.

Image: PA

RISHI SUNAK TOOK a fresh swipe at his rival Lizz Truss’ tax-cutting plans as he warned against complacency in the face of soaring inflation.

The former UK chancellor, on a visit to his old family pharmacy in Southampton this afternoon, said his plan is “not to make inflation worse at a time when it is already high, rising and interest rates are rising”.

“And my plan is not just to get through the immediate challenges we face but to actually build a better Britain,” he said.

Sunak and Truss are the two final candidates in the race to be elected as the next leader of the UK’s Conservative Party, and by extension, the next prime minister.

“I have been saying consistently since the start of this campaign that the number one challenge the new prime minister faces is inflation,” Sunak said.

“I am confident that my plan is the right one for our country. Inflation has got to be the priority and that is why I will grip it in a way that no one else will.”

Sunak, who is seen to be trailing behind Liz Truss in the Conservative leadership contest, has been campaigning hard to win over any wavering voters in the dying days of the campaign.

The politician, who also visited his father’s old GP surgery, had earlier appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where he once again compared his approach to Margaret Thatcher’s as he pointed out that certain supporters of Thatcher’s economic policies were backing him.

The leadership contest runs until 5 September.

Critics have complained it is dragging on for too long, leaving the country without an effective government until the new occupant of No 10 is in place.

On BBC Radio 4, Suank declined to be drawn on whether he would revolt and vote against Truss’ emergency budget if she became prime minister.

It comes days after he fuelled speculation that he would turn down a job in any Truss Cabinet, after he suggested he would not enjoy working with a prime minister with whom he disagreed.

Asked if the Conservative Party is “hopelessly divided” at the moment, he said: “No, what I’m doing is focusing on the contest right now and actually … all these questions as if the contest is already over are not ones that I’m entertaining, because I’m fighting really hard for everyone’s vote.”

He said: “I think my plan is the right one for the country. I think I’m the right person to be prime minister at this time.”

Truss, seen as the frontrunner in the contest, refused to commit yesterday at a hustings in Birmingham to appointing an ethics adviser if she becomes prime minister.

Sunak said that he wants to run a government with “decency and integrity”.

“I think standards matter in public life, I would appoint a new ethics adviser,” he said in Southampton.

Defence minister James Heappey, a supporter of Truss, earlier said she was “in the business of cutting taxes”.

Asked on Times Radio whether people should be expecting to pay more in other taxes as a result of the Foreign Secretary’s pledge to reverse the rise in national insurance contributions, he said: “There’s definitely not any part of Liz’s body, as far as I can tell, that agrees with raising taxes.”

Truss used last night’s leadership hustings in Birmingham to reject criticism of her tax-cutting plans.

“This whole language of ‘unfunded’ tax cuts implies the static model, the so-called abacus economics that the Treasury orthodoxy has promoted for years, but it hasn’t worked in our economy because what we have ended up with is high tax, high spending and low growth,” she said.

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