Sunak takes another hit as Truss gets Tugendhat’s endorsement

Rishi Sunak faces an uphill battle in his bid to become prime minister after suffering further setbacks as his rival Liz Truss garnered another major endorsement to take the lead in a new Conservative voter poll.

The former chancellor again took a defensive stance on taxes in a pivotal interview with Andrew Neal on Friday, dismissing accusations that his policies would lead to a recession and warning that Ms Truss’s plans for massive tax cuts would ‘fuel the fire’ of inflation. .

But the foreign secretary’s tax promise caught the attention of former Tory leadership rival Tom Tugendhat, who called them “based on true conservative principles” when he spoke in support of her.

I think it is absolutely right not to add fuel to the fire of the inflation problem, which we already have.Rishi Sunak

With Ms. Truss consistently leading the polls in her tax plans, Mr. Sunak reversed the tide this week by vowing to temporarily cut VAT on electricity bills.

However, the policy appears to have failed to garner support from Conservative voters, including party members who elected the next prime minister, of whom 43% believe Ms Truss would do better, compared to 32% last year. – on Sunaka, according to the data. BMG Research survey for newspaper i.

Seeking to regain his footing in the competition before the ballots start falling into the party’s mailboxes next week, Mr. Sunak will deliver a speech on Saturday denouncing the “wake-up nonsense.”

In a tough identity politics rhetoric, he is expected to tell his supporters in West Sussex that he will not allow “leftist agitators” to “bulldoze on our history, our traditions and our fundamental values”.

He will promise to revise the Equality Act of 2010, which he calls “a Trojan horse that has allowed all sorts of absurd nonsense to infiltrate public life.”

The seasoned political journalist interrogated Mr. Sunak about his wife’s economy, immigration and tax status for nearly half an hour in a Channel 4 interview in which Ms Truss has so far refused to take part.

Mr. Neal challenged Mr. Sunak about his plans to tighten fiscal policy at a time when “the global economy is stalling as monetary policy tightens,” suggesting that he would “ensure a recession.”

Mr. Sunak said: “I think it is absolutely right not to add fuel to the already existing problem of inflation.

“What we need to do is focus on long-term growth, because that’s what we need, sustainable growth, not a sugar rush boom that will make us feel better for a few months, but then it gets out of hand.” , allowing inflation to enter the system. let the Bank of England respond with even higher interest rates.”

Mr Sunak said a recession “was not the forecast of most independent forecasters here in the UK” and denied that his promise to cut VAT on electricity bills was a reversal that showed “misjudgment”.

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Former Conservative Leadership Candidate Tom Tugendhat Endorses Liz Truss (Yui Mok/PA)

Regarding immigration, Mr Neal insisted on why he wants to refuse “even asylum seekers”.

Mr. Sunak responded: “Because there are a limited number of asylum seekers that we can integrate and accommodate.

“At any given time, Andrew, there are probably a billion people who would like to move to the UK because it’s an amazing country, so we obviously can’t accept them all.”

The millionaire former chancellor was embarrassed as he brushed off questions about his wife’s previous tax status without permanent residency — an arrangement that reportedly saved her millions by saying, “I’m running for office, not my wife.”

Mr. Sunak’s fiscal policy has been criticized by new Truss supporter Mr. Tugendhat, who wrote in The Times that it is “wrong” that the tax burden should rise as people with “fear” approach winter.

The Chairman of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs was the last heavyweight to come out in support of Ms. Truss after the earlier support of Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace, and is significant as he is popular among Tory members and is a high-profile figure in the One Nation centrist Tory group. deputies.

Asked during a visit to Norfolk on Friday if she was sure that she now had every chance of winning the competition, Ms. Truss replied: “I’m not calm at all. I’m fighting for every vote across the country.”

In a thinly veiled critique of the former chancellor’s track record, the foreign minister said it would be “risky” for the country to continue on its current economic path.

Ms. Truss said the way to achieve growth is “to help people and businesses save more of their own money,” stating that “recession prevention should be the number one priority.”