Rishi Sunak’s team on Monday launched a renewed attack on his Conservative Party leadership contest rival, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, for pushing through magic money tree promises to address the cost-of-living crisis faced by the British public.
The British Indian former Chancellor’s prime ministerial campaign headquarters and supporters highlighted that the Cabinet minister would not be able to meet her estimated GBP 50 billion tax cut pledge and support packages to those most in need without pushing the country’s debt to dangerous levels.
With just over a week to go before the vote for a new leader closes to Tory members on September 2, Sunak’s team warned Truss’ policy pledges would plunge the UK economy into an inflation spiral.
The reality is that Truss cannot deliver a support package as well as come good on GBP 50 billion worth of unfunded, permanent tax cuts in one go, the Ready4Rishi campaign team said in a statement.
To do so would mean increasing borrowing to historic and dangerous levels, putting the public finances in serious jeopardy and plunging the economy into an inflation spiral, it said.
The campaign claimed that following weeks of rejecting direct support payments as handouts, Truss supporters have slowly woken up to reality and say they will provide people with help.
But what help, for who, when and how it will be paid for remains a mystery, Sunak’s team said.
Meanwhile, an ally of the former finance minister, Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake, suggested people would be homeless on the streets without further help to pay energy bills this winter.
“What we’ve seen with Rishi time and time again [is that] he’s provided that support, he’s saved millions of jobs with these targeted measures, he’s said he’ll target the measures again in terms of the cost-of-living crisis, Hollinrake told Sky News’.
You’ve seen the Truss camp promise to spend GBP 65 billion in tax cuts and extra spending and that’s without even providing those targeted measures and support that will inevitably be needed.
It can’t be a case of the magic money tree again. We’ve got to provide the right support but also make it targeted and affordable for taxpayers,” he said.
Team Truss has argued that tax cuts will help to grow the UK’s economy and boost prosperity.
“The cost-of-living crisis means immediate action is required. A Truss government would seek to act as soon as possible to help people across the UK, by cutting taxes and introducing a temporary moratorium on energy levies,” her campaign spokesperson said.
UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, a close ally of Liz Truss who is tipped as the new Chancellor if she is elected Prime Minister, said: “Of course, she will look at what more can be done to help families, but it is entirely reasonable not to detail the exact shape of that support until she has all the information to hand.”
Meanwhile, The Times’ reports on its latest focus group and YouGov survey results, which indicate that Conservative Party members who are casting their postal and online ballots for a new party leader have so-called seller’s remorse over Boris Johnson’s early exit.
In interviews with floating voters in marginal constituencies, the newspaper found little enthusiasm for either current frontrunner Truss, or Sunak who has pitched himself as the underdog ready to fight till the end in the race to be elected the new Conservative leader and British Prime Minister.
This was backed up by YouGov polling that found 49 per cent of Tory supporters thought Johnson should remain in charge at 10 Downing Street more than the combined support for both Truss and Sunak. This is also in sharp contrast to similar surveys a fews months ago that favoured Johnson’s exit over the partygate scandal of COVID lockdown law-breaching parties at Downing Street.
The new Tory leader is set to be declared on September 5, after voting by an electorate from an estimated 180,000 Tory members across the UK closes on September 2. The newly elected leader is then expected to have an audience with the Queen and formally take charge with a speech at Downing Street soon after.