Sunak claims Truss would leave MILLIONS at risk of 'destitution'
Liz Truss says she is ‘absolutely’ against windfall taxes on energy giants and insists ‘profit is not a dirty word’ – as Rishi Sunak claims his Tory rival’s resistance to more cost-of-living payments will leave MILLIONS at risk of ‘real destitution’
- Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak continue their fierce clashes over cost-of-living crisis
- Foreign Secretary effectively rules out extending windfall tax on energy giants
- She insists that tax cuts will always be her ‘first port of call’ to help households
- But Mr Sunak claims her approach would leave millions at risk of ‘destitution’
Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak tonight continued their fierce clashes over how they would deal with the cost-of-living crisis if they become prime minister.
In a sixth official leadership hustings, Ms Truss insisted tax cuts would always be her ‘first port of call’ to help struggling households, with her second priority to deal with energy supply issues.
The Foreign Secretary also effectively ruled out extending the windfall tax on energy giants to fund extra support for families, which was introduced by Mr Sunak when he was chancellor.
She claimed such levies were a ‘Labour idea’ that were ‘all about bashing business’, as she insisted profits should not be seen as ‘something that’s dirty and evil’.
But Mr Sunak – who has vowed to spend billions of pounds more on direct payments for the poorest this autumn and winter – launched a stinging counter-attack on Ms Truss’s economic approach.
He claimed his rival’s focus on tax cuts to help people with soaring bills, rather than direct support, would ‘leave millions of incredibly vulnerable people at the risk of real destitution’.
Tonight’s Cheltenham hustings, held at the Gloucestershire town’s famous racecourse, was attended by around 2,000 people.
It marked the half-way point in Ms Truss and Mr Sunak’s tour of the UK to try and convince Tory members to elect them as Boris Johnson’s successor.
Elsewhere at tonight’s event:
- Ms Truss promised to lift the ban on fracking so it can take place in areas with local support;
- She left open the possibility of leaving the European Convention on Human Rights in order to bypass a legal block on the Rwanda migrant scheme;
- The Foreign Secretary ruled out a cap on immigration, saying that she didn’t believe in an ‘arbitrary target’;
- Mr Sunak revealed he has messaged and called Mr Johnson since resigning as chancellor, but had yet to receive a response;
- The former Treasury chief said he would fine people £10 for missing NHS appointments;
- He warned that scrapping the independence of the Bank of England would be a ‘massive mistake’.
Liz Truss effectively ruled out extending the windfall tax on energy giants to fund extra support for families
Rishi Sunak claimed his rival’s focus on tax cuts to help people with soaring bills, rather than direct support, would ‘millions’ at the risk of ‘real destitution’
In a sixth official leadership hustings, the Tory leadership candidates continued their fierce clashes over how they would deal with the cost-of-living crisis if they become PM
Having traded blows all week over their competing economic visions, it was no surprise that tonight’s hustings saw Ms Truss and Mr Sunak exchange fresh barbs over how they would deal with the cost-of-living crisis.
The Foreign Secretary has repeatedly taken aim at Mr Sunak’s hike to National Insurance and vowed to reverse a planned rise in Corporation Tax.
She said tonight that her ‘first preference is always to reduce taxes’, adding: ‘I do not like Gordon Brown-style economics where you take money off people in taxes and give it back in benefits.
‘If the answer to every question is raising tax, we will choke off economic growth, and we will send ourselves to penury, and I think that’s a massive problem.’
Ms Truss also effectively ruled out expanding the windfall tax on oil and gas firms, despite recent speculation the Treasury wants it to be one of the options on the table for funding cost of living support.
‘One thing I absolutely don’t support is a windfall tax,’ the Foreign Secretary said.
‘I think it’s a Labour idea, it’s all about bashing business and it sends the wrong message to international investors and to the public.’
She added: ‘I don’t think profit is a dirty word, and the fact it’s become a dirty word in our society is a massive problem.
‘In this audience today, we have hundreds of people who run businesses and make a profit and I think that’s a good thing.
‘Now, of course, the energy giants, if they’re in an oligopoly, should be held to account, and I would make sure they’re rigorously held to account. But the way we bandy the word around “profit” as if it’s something that’s dirty and evil, we shouldn’t be doing that as Conservatives.
‘We’re playing into the hands of people like Jeremy Corbyn who want to completely undermine our way of life.’
The Cheltenham event, held at the Gloucestershire town’s famous racecourse, was attended by around 2,000 people
Souvernirs were on sale ahead of tonight’s hustings event, which saw Ms Truss and Mr Sunak continue their battle to replace Boris Johnson as PM
The rival candidates’ competing placards were on display outside the hustings venue in Cheltenham
Mr Sunak takes a selfie with a Conservative Party member as he continued his leadership campaign ahead of tonight’s hustings in Cheltenham
Ms Truss has not ruled out issuing further direct payments to those struggling with rocketing energy bills, but she has steered away from talk of more ‘handouts’.
By contrast, Mr Sunak has said he is ready to boost the cost of living support he put in place when he was chancellor.
‘We will need to provide more than I thought previously because the bills are worse,’ he said tonight.
‘But if we don’t do that… if you support a plan that Liz is suggesting, which says she doesn’t believe in doing that, doesn’t believe in providing direct financial support to those groups of people – now that’s what she said because she thinks her tax cut is going to help them, which it is not – we are going to, as a Conservative Government, leave millions of incredibly vulnerable people at the risk of real destitution.’
Mr Sunak also warned that, if the Tories do not provide ‘direct support’ this winter, then it would be a ‘moral failure’ and the country ‘will never ever forgive us’.
He said: ‘Millions of pensioners this autumn and winter are going to have an extraordinarily tough time.
‘They don’t have the ability to go out and work more hours. They’re already dipping into their savings in retirement.
‘And as I said then and I’ll say it again, if we don’t provide direct support to millions of vulnerable pensioners, it will be a moral failure of this party and the country will never ever forgive us.’
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