Tory leadership - live: Sunak warns ‘we’ll lose election if inflation rampant’ as Truss heckled

·41-min read

Rishi Sunak has told Tory members the party will lose the 2024 general election if inflation is not brought under control – in a veiled warning of the risks of electing as leader Liz Truss, who wants to slash taxes immediately.

At a leadership hustings in Eastbourne, the former chancellor said he was “particularly worried about policies that risk making it worse and last longer”.

As the event began, Ms Truss was heckled before resuming her speech to blame “infiltrators” and attack “unfair protests” that “interrupt our democracy”.

Earlier, Mr Sunak was filmed boasting about diverting funding away from “deprived urban areas” towards more prosperous areas that “deserve” it.

Labour’s Lisa Nandy urged the government to investigate the “deeply concerning” remarks made to grassroots Tories in Kent last month – uncovered in footage obtained by the New Statesman .

He told supporters: “I managed to start changing the funding formulas, to make sure areas like this are getting the funding they deserve because we inherited a bunch of formulas from Labour that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas and that needed to be undone.”

Key Points

  • Truss blames ‘infiltrators’ as she is heckled at Tory hustings

  • Labour’s Lisa Nandy calls for probe into Rishi Sunak’s defunding boast

  • Ex-chancellor boasts of taking money from ‘deprived urban areas’

  • BoE defends move to raise interest rates

  • Foreign sec insists recession is not inevitable

  • Sunak says Truss tax cuts would ‘fuel on the fire’ of inflation

Friday 5 August 2022 05:24 , Stuti Mishra

Good morning! Welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of all things UK politics. Stay tuned for the latest.

Truss insists recession is not inevitable despite BoE warning

Friday 5 August 2022 05:43 , Stuti Mishra

Liz Truss at Sky News’ The Battle for Number 10 last night insisted a recession is not inevitable when asked about the Bank of England’s forecast for an outright recession and 13 per cent inflation.

She told the studio audience: “What the Bank of England have said today is of course extremely worrying, but it is not inevitable. We can change the outcome and we can make it more likely that the economy grows.”

She said she wanted to keep taxes low and “do all we can to grow the economy by taking advantage of our post-Brexit freedom, unleashing investment, changing things like the procurement rules and doing things differently”.

On the other hand, the former chancellor warned Ms Truss’s plan would make the dire economic situation worse, warning of “misery for millions” by pouring “fuel on the fire”.

He said: “We in the Conservative party need to get real and fast because the lights on the economy are flashing red and the root cause is inflation.

“I’m worried that Liz Truss’s plans will make the situation worse.”

Sunak says Truss' plans would pour ‘fuel on the fire’ of recession

Friday 5 August 2022 06:00 , Stuti Mishra

Rishi Sunak has accused Liz Truss of economic plans that would pour "fuel on the fire" just hours after the Bank of England warned the UK was heading for a recession.

The former chancellor, who has argued that Ms Truss’s planned tax cuts are inflationary, told the Tory leadership debate organised by Sky News: “I’m worried that Liz Truss’s plans will make the situation worse.”

Kate Devlin has more:

Sunak accuses Truss of plans that would pour ‘fuel on the fire’ of recession

Business leaders’ concern over Liz Truss plan for bonfire of EU regulations

Friday 5 August 2022 06:15 , Stuti Mishra

Business leaders have voiced their concern over Liz Truss’s plans for a bonfire of Brussels regulations, after she said slashing EU red tape would be “a priority” in tackling the expected recession, writes Andrew Woodcock.

Speaking ahead of a business round-table on Friday, the frontrunner to succeed Boris Johnson announced plans for a working group of industry leaders to help draw up new UK-only regulations in time for a “sunset deadline” of 2023 for the abolition of EU-derived laws which she believes are holding back the economy.

But the Institute of Directors made clear that diverging from EU rules was not a demand of companies facing a cost of living crisis which the Bank of England believes could result in inflation above 13 per cent and five consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Read more:

Business leaders’ concern over Liz Truss plan for bonfire of EU regulations

Voices: The surprise winner of the latest Tory TV battle wasn’t Truss - but Sunak

Friday 5 August 2022 06:30 , Stuti Mishra

As Coleen Rooney might put it, the big revelation from the Sky News prime ministerial double-header was that the winner was.......... Rishi Sunak. Presenter Kay Burley declared, betraying nothing more or less than the media conventional wisdom, “I wasn’t expecting that”.

Perhaps, on the day the Bank of England forecast a year-long recession and 13 per cent inflation, the Tory membership is starting to realise they probably need someone leading them who has a passing acquaintance with economic sense? I wonder.

Read this from Sean O’Grady on yesterday’s Tory debate here:

The surprise winner of the latest Tory TV battle wasn’t Truss - but Sunak

What did the Bank of England say about recession?

Friday 5 August 2022 06:40 , Stuti Mishra

As Tory candidates clash over their economic policies, read what the Bank of England said about a possible recession from our chief business commentator James Moore.

Bank of England charges up rates while warning of a very bad outlook

Key moments from Truss and Sunak's debate

Friday 5 August 2022 06:50 , Stuti Mishra

From skeletons in their closets and clashes over their economic policies as the Bank of England warns of a long recession, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have discussed at length a range of topics during their latest televised debate.

The two Tory leadership hopefuls took part in Sky News’ The Battle for Number 10 on Thursday night, which saw them separately taking questions from party members.

They were also both interviewed by Sky News’ presenter Kay Burley.

Here are the key points raised during the 90-minute-long TV event:

Key moments as Truss and Sunak face grilling from Tory members during TV debate

Rishi Sunak vows he won’t stand aside for frontrunner Liz Truss

Friday 5 August 2022 07:00 , Stuti Mishra

Rishi Sunak has insisted that there is no point in which he would stand aside for Tory leadership rival Liz Truss, despite multiple polls placing the foreign secretary significantly ahead of the ex-chancellor.

Mr Sunak insisted he will “fight incredibly hard ‘til the last day” of the leadership campaign, telling a Conservative party member in the audience that “the quick answer is no” when questioned whether there is a point at which he would step aside in the race to be leader.

He said he is “fighting for something I really believe in and wants to “try and convince you all that I’m right”.

Liz Truss, Kay Burley and Rishi Sunak ahead of the Sky News special programme (PA)
Liz Truss, Kay Burley and Rishi Sunak ahead of the Sky News special programme (PA)

Johnson and Zahawi on holiday amid financial gloom

Friday 5 August 2022 07:10 , Stuti Mishra

Boris Johnson and chancellor Nadhim Zahawi are on holiday despite warnings of inflation further soaring and of the economy entering the longest recession since the financial crisis.

With ministers taking a back seat as the Tory party is gripped by the leadership contest, both men were away from Westminster when the Bank of England detailed the brutal outlook.

Labour accused the Chancellor and the prime minister of being “missing in action” as the cost-of-living crisis deepened further, with the Bank forecasting inflation could peak at 13.3%.

Read more:

Boris Johnson and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi on holiday despite financial gloom

Liz Truss faces investigation over ‘murky donations’

Friday 5 August 2022 07:25 , Stuti Mishra

Liz Truss is facing the possibility of her first major sleaze probe amid claims she failed to declare “murky donations” related to her leadership campaign.

Labour yesterday appealed to the cabinet secretary to open an investigation into the Tory frontrunner over funding for a so-called “Fizz with Liz” champagne dinner.

The Independent reported that Ms Truss was facing questions about why she did not declare the thousands of pounds worth of hospitality spent on schmoozing Tory MPs.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more:

Liz Truss facing first sleaze investigation over ‘murky donations’

Debate halted Truss momentum, says Tory analyst

Friday 5 August 2022 08:06 , Chris Baynes

Lord Robert Hayward, a Conservative peer and elections analyst, said Rishi Sunak’s performance in last night’s Sky News debate caused “a stop in terms of the momentum in one direction” of the campaign he said had recently been going in Liz Truss’ favour.

Speaking to Sky News, Lord Hayward said: “There’s no question in my mind and the vote of the audience, it was the first time that he had clearly led in a debate.”

He added: “Liz has had the best of the last few days, no question about it, with the series of endorsements from different major personalities. I think what happened last night was there was a stop in terms of the momentum in one direction.

“It won’t necessarily have reversed it, but there will be this morning a different sense of messaging that is around.”

Raising taxes is ‘adding insult to injury’, says Kwasi Kwarteng

Friday 5 August 2022 08:18 , Chiara Giordano

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said carrying on with the current economic policy "is not going to cut it" and that raising taxes is "adding insult to injury".

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Kwarteng, a supporter of Liz Truss' campaign, said on the Bank of England forecasts: "I think the problem we have is very simple. I think we've got inflation which is, as you say, squeezing people's incomes, but we've also got a rising tax burden.

"I've never understood why if we're going to help people, how are we going to help people by putting up their taxes? Especially when their daily shop, their costs, are going up.

"What's very clear to me from what the Bank of England said yesterday is that more of the same, just simply carrying on with our economic policy at the moment, is not going to cut it, it's not going to help us get out of this difficulty."

He said he was "not blaming the tax rises" but that "we can't tax ourselves to growth".

Government’s ‘overwhelming priority’ should be inflation, says former housing secretary

Friday 5 August 2022 08:30 , Chiara Giordano

Former housing secretary Robert Jenrick has said the government's "overwhelming priority" should be inflation.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the Tory MP, who is backing Rishi Sunak in the leadership race, said: "The dashboard is flashing red on the British economy and we shouldn't fool ourselves into believing that all is going to be fine.

"I think it's very clear this morning that our overwhelming priority must be inflation. That's what many people have been saying for a long time. It's what Rishi Sunak has been saying throughout this leadership contest and tax cuts, unfunded tax cuts, in the immediate - always attractive though that might be to those of us who want to reduce the burden of taxation - seem less relevant in these circumstances.

"As you've just heard from Paul Johnson, the two priorities for the country right now are firstly: is there anything further that we can do from a government perspective in addition to what the Bank of England is doing to tackle inflation? And, on that front, the one thing we certainly can do is to do no further harm and not to do any tax rises that might add to inflation.

"Secondly, to think very deeply about what we can do to help the poorest and most vulnerable households through the winter."

Rocketing inflation ‘concerns me most’, says Bank of England boss

Friday 5 August 2022 08:40 , Chiara Giordano

 (Yui Mok/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
(Yui Mok/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey has said rocketing inflation "concerns me most" amid political criticism over the speed of actions taken by the bank to tackle the current economic turmoil.

"We are in the centre of things because of what is going on in the world at large and the impact that is having on inflation, and that's what concerns me most at the moment," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Central bank independence is critically important in our view, but our job is to get inflation back down to target.

"I think it's important that there is a full debate during this process to choose the next prime minister of this country.

"It is clearly very important that public officials like I do not intervene in this debate and I am not doing that.

"We have strong views, of course, but I look forward to working with the new government and new prime minister, and sure we will have substantive exchanges on this."

Next PM will have to find ‘many more billions to help households pay soaring energy bills’

Friday 5 August 2022 08:55 , Matt Mathers

The next prime minister will have to find “many more billions” of pounds to help households pay soaring energy bills, the head of a highly influential think tank has warned.

Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin reports:

Next PM will have to find ‘billions to help households pay soaring energy bills’

Robert Jenrick defends Rishi Sunak’s proposal to charge £10 for missing NHS appointment

Friday 5 August 2022 08:55 , Chiara Giordano

Former housing secretary Robert Jenrick has defended Rishi Sunak's proposal to charge people £10 for missing a second NHS appointment.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the Tory MP said: "I don't think he should ditch that particular policy. I mean, it may be that it's difficult in practice to implement, but I think it's broadly supported by the public because we all want to see good quality public services but they need to be subject to reform.

"We're putting very large sums of money into the NHS, as we are to a number of other public services, but they're not working properly and so people want to see reforms being brought forward so this money is being spent properly."

Challenged on the policy's potential to target vulnerable people, he said: "I don't think there's a suggestion that you'd be going after people who have a good cause to miss appointments. What we're talking about is people who do so irresponsibly.

"It's not about money in the sense that it isn't about the money generated by the £10. It's about creating a culture whereby people treat public services like the NHS with the respect that it deserves and don't miss appointments if they can possibly avoid doing so.

"It has been looked at in the past. I was on the Health Select Committee many years ago, we looked at this and we concluded that we wouldn't do it as a money-raising exercise. It clearly doesn't raise very much money in the scheme of the NHS' budget, but it could inculcate a more responsible culture with the minority of people who go around missing appointments for GPs and dentists and so on, which ultimately just puts more strain on the public services."

Recession ‘inevitable’, Tory MP warns

Friday 5 August 2022 09:22 , Matt Mathers

A recession in the UK is “inevitable”, a Tory MP has warned as he criticised Tory leadership contender Liz Truss’s plan for the economy.

Liam Fox, a former cabinet minister and supporter of her rival Rishi Sunak, told Sky News: "I think it's inevitable given what's happening in the global economy.

"As I said, the United States is in its second quarter now of contraction. So, technically, by the UK definition, the US is in recession. That clearly is going to have an effect on everyone else.”

He added: “What Liz seems to be saying is, at a time when we are already spending £85 billion on debt interest, twice as much as we're spending on defence during a conflict in Europe, we should be borrowing even more money.

"That's been tried before. If there was an easy way to get out of the inflationary problem and growth, don't you think it would have been done here or the United States or in Europe?"

Kwarteng: ‘Immediate problem is growth'

Friday 5 August 2022 09:50 , Matt Mathers

The immediate problem with the UK’s economy is “growth” and not inflation, Kwasi Kwarten has insisted.

The business secretary, who is supporting Liz Truss in the Tory leadership contest, said it “doesn’t make any sense” to take more of people’s money through tax when real incomes are being squeezed.

Ms Truss has vowed to reverse the rise in NI brought in by her rival, Mr Sunak and to cut income tax if she replaces Boris Johnson.

Mr Kwarteng told BBC Radio 4 Today: “No economist in the world is going to say that the way to deal with a looming recession is to tighten monetary policy and to tighten fiscal policy at the same time."

Challenged that problems on the supply side are predominantly causing inflation rather than consumer demand in the market, he said: "Inflation means that you're spending, you have less of your money, you have less of your real income is being squeezed.

"Now, nobody I've ever spoken to, until about a week ago or two weeks ago, has said the way to deal with that is to take even more of people's money through tax. That doesn't make any sense, and, if you take a step back and you look at what's going on around other G7 countries, they're not doing this, and the IMF was very clear 10 days ago when it predicted that we would have the lowest growth in the G7 next year and that's a consequence, not only of the inflation because everyone's dealing with global inflation, but it's also a consequence of having a very tight fiscal policy.

"But you don't put up interest rates as well as tightening fiscal policy. Nobody is doing that. That's why, across the world, people are actually saying we need to help people."

Bank of England governor urges workers to limit pay rise demands to help others without ‘bargaining power’

Friday 5 August 2022 10:05 , Matt Mathers

The governor of the Bank of England has urged workers to limit their demands for a pay rise this year warning of the impact of high inflation on those who don’t have ‘bargaining power’.

Andrew Bailey said the problem was one “we all have to be very conscious of” hours after he warned households will suffer the deepest fall in living standards on record as the UK plunges into a yearlong recession this autumn.

Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin has more details below:

Workers ‘should limit pay rise demands to help others without bargaining power’

PM and chancellor ‘AWOL'

Friday 5 August 2022 10:29 , Matt Mathers

Boris Johnson and chancellor Nadhim Zahawi have gone AWOL, a Labour MP has said as he called on the government to do more people with the cost of living crisis.

Both the PM and Mr Zahawi are on holiday.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, spoke to Sky News earlier, telling the station that a £ 4 billion “tax break” being given to oil and gas giants could be used to help millions pay their bills.

More comments from Mr Ashworth below:

Labour pledges will be fully costed

Friday 5 August 2022 10:53 , Matt Mathers

Any pledges Labour makes on the economy will be fully costed, an MP has said as he criticised the Tory leadership candidates’ plans for tax cuts.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, has been out on the morning broadcast round for his party following the Bank of England’s dire economic forecast.

He said the people “will see” how and spending commitments Labour makes at the next general election - “the British public expect politicians to be prudent and sound when managing the finances

Kwasi Kwarteng defends holidaying PM and chancellor saying 'I'm here, I'm in a suit'

Friday 5 August 2022 11:03 , Matt Mathers

Kwasi Kwarteng has defended Boris Johnson’s decision to go on holiday amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The business secretary was out on the broadcast round for the government earlier. He said he didn’t know where the PM was but was in constant contact with him.

He also defended the decision of chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to take a break. “I’m here, I’m in a suit, I’m not on holiday and we’re absolutely focused” on tackling rising bills, he told Sky News.

Suank bragged of diverting public funds away from deprived urban areas'

Friday 5 August 2022 11:33 , Matt Mathers

Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak proudly told party members he had been working to divert funding from "deprived urban areas" towards prosperous towns.

The former chancellor bragged that he had started changing public funding formulas to ensure more prosperous towns receive "the funding they deserve".

The New Statesman magazine, which obtained video revealing Mr Sunak's remarks, said they were made to grassroots Tories in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on July 29.

Labour said it was "scandalous" that Mr Sunak was "openly boasting that he fixed the rules to funnel taxpayers' money to rich Tory shires".

World Cup 2022: Expert panel to explore how the world can hold Qatar to account on human rights

Friday 5 August 2022 12:20 , Matt Mathers

Join labour rights defender Malcolm Bidali, FairSquare’s James Lynch, BHRRC’s Isobel Archer and The Independent’s chief football writer Miguel Delaney, hosted by international editor David Harding for an expert panel on how the world can hold Qatar to account on human rights.

You can sign up by following this link:

How to get a free ticket to our event on Qatar and human rights

The surprise winner of the latest Tory TV battle wasn’t Truss – but Sunak

Friday 5 August 2022 12:50 , Matt Mathers

Liz Truss is all too keen to excuse Boris Johnson’s ‘mistakes’ – she could be as dangerous as him, writes Sean O’Grady.

Read Sean’s full piece here:

The surprise winner of the latest Tory TV battle wasn’t Truss – but Sunak

Truss and Sunak are too deep in fantasyland to weather the coming storm

Friday 5 August 2022 13:15 , Matt Mathers

For an extremely long fortnight, they have been fighting it out to be prime minister of a country of which they appear to be hovering above in some kind of spacecraft, without ever having touched down to see what’s actually going on here, writes Tom Peck.

Read Tom’s piece here:

Opinion: Truss and Sunak are too deep in fantasyland to weather the coming storm

Why are so many comedians left wing? It’s quite simple, really

Friday 5 August 2022 13:30 , Matt Mathers

The glee with which the ‘Mock the Week’ cancellation was greeted forms part of a narrative that has proved extremely valuable to the right in recent years, writes Andrew Woodcock.

Read Andrew’s full piece here:

Editor’s Letter: Why are so many comedians left wing? It’s quite simple, really

Candidates must tackle inflation and recession, CBI director says

Friday 5 August 2022 13:51 , Matt Mathers

CBI director general Tony Danker said the leadership candidates cannot choose between tackling either inflation or growth and must tackle both, and there is a need to look at the whole tax regime without "cherry-picking".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One programme, Mr Danker said: "I think the candidates are having a debate about stagflation actually. Each candidate is sort of picking their worse evil to focus on first.

"But the trouble with stagflation is you don't get to choose between tackling inflation or tackling recession, you have to tackle both.

"So, that's challenge number one to the candidates, to not pick which one of inflation or recession they care about more, but to come up with a plan that tackles both."

He added: "We need a genuine plan about growth, that when it comes to tax we need to talk about the whole tax regime, not cherry-picking the ones that are most totemic.

"We also need to think way beyond tax, we need to think about regulation that's pro-growth, we need to think about boosting growth markets, and above all, given where most people are in business today, is we need to think about a plan to tackle labour and skills shortages."

The Bank of England has confirmed the Tory leadership race as an irrelevant sideshow

Friday 5 August 2022 14:10 , Matt Mathers

Their juvenile ‘my tax cuts are bigger than yours’ competition leaves the Tories fiddling while Rome burns, writes Andrew Grice.

Read Andrew’s full piece here:

Opinion: Bank of England confirmed the Tory leadership race as an irrelevant sideshow

Long read: Will a new prime minister destabilise Keir Starmer’s leadership of Labour?

Friday 5 August 2022 14:40 , Matt Mathers

Depending on who wins the Tory leadership contest, Starmer will have to redefine his position, writes John Rentoul. But is he even the right person for the job?

Read John’s full piece here:

Will a new prime minister destabilise Starmer’s leadership of Labour? | John Rentoul

Viewers react after Kay Burley quotes Eminem as she roasts Liz Truss in leadership debate

Friday 5 August 2022 15:03 , Matt Mathers

Kay Burley has been praised by viewers for her takedown of Liz Truss, which included a nod to an Eminem lyric.

During a debate on Sky News last night (4 August), the broadcaster interviewed Number 10 hopefuls Truss and Rishi Sunak.

At one point, Burley began listing all the different examples of when Truss has made drastic U-turns in her views and policies.

My colleague Ellie Harrison reports:

Kay Burley quotes Eminem as she roasts Liz Truss in leadership debate

Truss acknowledges winter ahead will be ‘tough'

Friday 5 August 2022 15:30 , Matt Mathers

Liz Truss acknowledged there will be a "tough winter" ahead but said there is a need to move away from the "business-as-usual" policies to help "reform the economy".

The foreign secretary, speaking during a visit to meet key investors in the City of London, told reporters: "The reality is we're facing a recession if we carry on with our business-as-usual policies.

"People are struggling - whether it's to pay food bills or fuel bills - that's why it's very important we reverse the national insurance increase, we have a temporary moratorium on the green energy levy to help people with their fuel bills.

"The most important thing is getting the economy going so we avoid a recession and the business-as-usual policies aren't working, we need to do more, and that's why I am determined to reform the economy and keep taxes low."

She added: "I know it's going to be a tough winter, I want to do all I can to make sure we're releasing the reserves in the North Sea of gas, I want to get on with things like fracking in areas that support it, and I also want to make sure that we're moving ahead with nuclear power and more renewables.

"Of course, it will take time but the best time to start is today in moving that forward, as well as giving people all the help we can by keeping their taxes low and getting the economy going."

Labour calls for probe into Sunak’s defunding boast

Friday 5 August 2022 15:47 , Andy Gregory

Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary has written to her opposite number Greg Clark to call for an investigation into Rishi Sunak’s “deeply concerning” claims to have funnelled money away from “deprived urban areas” towards more prosperous places that “deserve” it.

In her letter, Lisa Nandy said: “This is deeply concerning. The former chancellor is admitting to fixing the rules to funnel taxpayers’ money to affluent parts of the country at the expense of areas he himself admits are “deprived”.

“Public money should always be distributed fairly and spent in areas where it is most needed. It is completely unacceptable for ministers to allocate taxpayer funds in order to secure political gain for themselves or their party.”

Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin has the full story here:

Labour demands probe into Sunak boast he took money from deprived urban areas

ICYMI: UK faces long recession and deepest plunge in living standards on record, Bank of England warns

Friday 5 August 2022 16:00 , Matt Mathers

Britain will plunge into a year-long recession this autumn in which households will be hit by the deepest fall in living standards on record, the Bank of England has warned.

My colleague Ben Chapman reports:

UK faces deepest plunge in living standards on record, Bank of England warns

Truss ‘snubs’ local press in Portsmouth despite ‘claiming they will have their pound of flesh’

Friday 5 August 2022 16:17 , Andy Gregory

Liz Truss is reported to have “snubbed any chance for questions” from a local reporter during her visit to Portsmouth, despite claiming that “the local press will have their pound of flesh”.

Here is the claim from Tom Cotterill, of Portsmouth News:

Looking back to Boris Johnson’s comments on inflation

Friday 5 August 2022 16:50 , Andy Gregory

As the issue of inflation continues to shape the discussion of Tory leadership pledges – and much else – here’s what Boris Johnson had to say when asked about forecasts of rising prices last October:

Who runs a caretaker government when the caretakers are on holiday?

Friday 5 August 2022 17:32 , Andy Gregory

“What do you call a country with a caretaker government, but where the caretaker has gone on holiday? In the middle of an economic crisis and a European war?

“Why, the United Kingdom, of course.”

Our associate editor Sean O’Grady takes a look at the “precedents for the current collective dereliction of duty” in this Politics Explained article:

Who runs a caretaker government when the caretakers are on holiday?

Almost half of voters believe neither leadership candidate is best to end feared recession

Friday 5 August 2022 18:22 , Andy Gregory

A majority of voters believe Rishi Sunak would be the best candidate to end a recession, according to a YouGov poll.

The British public are increasingly concerned about the prospect of facing a recession, with 63 per cent of respondents telling the pollster they feel it cannot be avoided.

Just 18 per cent of those polled said they believe that a recession can still be avoided.

When asked which of the leadership candidates would be best able to end such a recession, there was more confidence in the former chancellor, with 19 per cent of respondents selecting Mr Sunak compared to 12 per cent who said Liz Truss.

However, almost half – 46 per cent – said “neither”.

Tory leadership rivals face hustings in Eastbourne

Friday 5 August 2022 18:27 , Andy Gregory

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are facing yet another hustings event, set to kick off in Eastbourne at 7pm.

The two-hour event will be hosted by former Downing Street adviser Jimmy McLoughlin.

‘Deprivation exists right across our country’: Sunak defends himself over defunding remark

Friday 5 August 2022 18:33 , Andy Gregory

Rishi Sunak has sought to defend his comments to Tory supporters in which he appearing to claim credit for diverting funds from deprived areas to wealthier towns as chancellor.

“Well, I was making the point that deprivation exists right across our country and needs to be addressed,” he told Sky News.

“And that’s why we need to make sure our funding formulas recognise that. And people who need help and extra investment aren’t just limited to big urban areas. You find them in towns across the United Kingdom and in rural areas, too.

“And that was the point I was making, that our funding formulas that fail to recognise that are out of date, and they needed changing.

“That’s work that I started doing as local government minister. I am actually pleased as chief secretary and chancellor to have been able to change the rules of the Treasury to make sure that we get investment in all our regions and to create things like the levelling-up fund, which puts investment in communities across the country.”

Changing funding formulas ‘entirely sensible’, says Sunak

Friday 5 August 2022 18:47 , Andy Gregory

It is not just “big urban areas that require that extra investment”, Rishi Sunak has said.

The ex-chancellor sought to defuse a backlash over comments made to Tory supporters, as he told Sky News: “It’s right that those funding formulas are accurate, that they actually look at the need in different areas, measure that properly and reflect how things have changed from the past.

“And I think that’s an entirely sensible thing to be doing, because it’s not just big urban areas that require that extra investment. It’s also people in rural communities, it’s also people in towns and that’s what we’ve done, both as a Government in the past, what I want to do as prime minister in the future.

“Level up across the country so that no matter where people live, they feel incredible opportunities and pride in the place that they call home.”

Friday 5 August 2022 19:07 , Andy Gregory

There has been laughter at the outset of the Tory hustings, after Peter Booth, the chair of the Conservative National Convention accidentally suggested the leadership hustings would continue until 31 October – rather than 31 August.

“Thankfully it’s not going on that long,” he added.

1922 Committee vice-chair backs Truss

Friday 5 August 2022 19:12 , Andy Gregory

Nusrat Ghani, the vice-chair of the 1922 Committee is onstage.

While she had to be neutral during the first part of the election due to her role on the backbench committee, Ms Ghani said she is now supporting “our brilliant foreign secretary”, Liz Truss.

Only the Tory Party could have put together such stellar candidates, she added.

Ms Truss’s plan for the country “is bold, just like her”, Ms Ghani said, adding that the foreign secretary “will defend the unity of our nation and protect the peace in Northern Ireland”.

Truss opens with another attack on school system in Leeds

Friday 5 August 2022 19:17 , Andy Gregory

Liz Truss is now onstage, and was quickly told to “speak into the mic” – with the foreign secretary battling a brief flash of feedback before launching into a pitch about having not been brought up in a “traditional Conservative household”.

The foreign secretary returned to a now very familiar refrain that she saw children at her school let down by Leeds city council, who she claimed were more interested in political correctness than making sure students got English and Maths right.

“That’s what made me go into politics. Because I hated to see that waste of talent and I want our country to be successful,” Ms Truss said, adding her “aspiration nation” slogan for good measure.

Truss interrupted by angry ‘infiltrators'

Friday 5 August 2022 19:20 , Andy Gregory

Continuing her opening remarks, Liz Truss revisited her plan to reverse the planned hike to National Insurace, and to place a moratorium on the green levy.

As a Conservative, the foreign secretary said she wanted to be on the side of people who work hard and do the right thing.

But the foreign secretary was interrupted by angry shouts from a member of the audience, who appeared to be met with shouts of “out, out, out” in response to their remarks.

“I think we have some infiltrators and I will wait until they are evicted,” Ms Truss said.

Continuing with her speech, the foreign secretary referenced Extinction Rebellion as she said that she would “never let our democracy be interrupted by unfair protests”.

Tory voters in 2019 didn’t want Labour policies, Truss says

Friday 5 August 2022 19:31 , Andy Gregory

The people that voted Conservative in 2019 didn’t do so because they wanted Labour policies – they did so because they share our values, Liz Truss has insisted.

“Whether that’s about enterprise, whether it’s about hard work, whether it’s about supporting their family ... personal responsibility. That’s why those people voted Conservative. And those are the people and values we need to stand up for,” the foreign secretary said.

“But we also need to deliver. Because we made huge promises in 2019 about how we were going to unleash opportunity across the country, and I’m somebody who can deliver that.”

Protesters shout ‘shame on you’ and ‘green new deal’ at Truss

Friday 5 August 2022 19:33 , Andy Gregory

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more details on the interruption during Liz Truss’s opening remarks.

Two female environmental protesters were removed from the event in Eastbourne after shouting “shame on you” and “green new deal” at the would-be prime minister.

A livestream of the hustings on the Conservative Party website was briefly halted as the protesters were taken out of the hall.

Truss blames ‘infiltrators’ as she is heckled at Conservative hustings

Raab praises Sunak’s ‘Conservative values'

Friday 5 August 2022 19:38 , Andy Gregory

Dominic Raab has appeared onstage to back Rishi Sunak, adding to what appears to be a heavy focus on which candidate best encapsulates “Conservative values” at the outset of tonights’ hustings.

The justice secretary says that when he first met Mr Sunak in 2015, the now former chancellor was “imbued with the work ethic, the business experience and family values instilled in him by his parents, in particular when he worked in his mum’s pharmacy”.

Mr Sunak’s values “are our values, they’re Conservative values”.

Mr Raab then referred to Mr Sunak’s support for Brexit, and plans for freeports, praising him for his “actions, not words”.

Referring to support put together by Mr Sunak during the pandemic, which he said saved 18,000 jobs and benefitted thousands of businesses in Eastbourne alone, adding: “When you needed him, Rishi was there for you.”

Mr Sunak is the candidate with the “credible” plan in the face of the inflationary crisis, Mr Raab claimed, attacking Ms Truss’s unfunded tax cuts which will burden future generations with debt.

Sunak revisits past ground in buoyant opening remarks

Friday 5 August 2022 19:48 , Andy Gregory

Rishi Sunak is now onstage, opening with a self-deprecating joke about having “finally found someone my own size” to take a photo with when asked to take a selfie with a supporter’s child during the leadership campaign.

Like Ms Truss, the ex-chancellor also opens by discussing his upbringing, saying: “The bonds of family are far greater than anything any government could ever hope to replicate and we must never, ever forget that.”

He continued that his story “is an entirely Conservative story and that’s why I want to be your next prime minister – to put those Conservative values into action, to build a better Britain”, adding: “Just as our country allowed my family to provide amazing opportunities for me, as prime minister I want to do the same for everyone, your children and grandchildren, to make sure they have the same.”

Mr Sunak repeated a refrain from earlier hustings events this week that there are three things that must be done: restore trust, rebuild the economy, and reunite our country.

He then moved on to another familiar phrase, that “inflation is the enemy that makes everyone poorer” – adding that he will not pursue policies that risk making the situation far worse and far longer, attacking Ms Truss’s plans to borrow tens of billions of pounds which future generations would pay for.

This is “certainly not Conservative”, Mr Sunak added, then throwing in a claim for good measure – heavily repeated during hustings this weeks in an attempt to claw back Tory support from Ms Truss – that he wants to be “radical”, making a reference to his support for Brexit.

Tories must ‘make British political history’ at next election, Sunak says

Friday 5 August 2022 19:51 , Andy Gregory

When it comes to reuniting our country, in just a couple of years the Conservatives “must do something very special” and “make British political history” by winning a fifth election in a row, Rishi Sunak has said.

“That has never been done before but I am confident that working together we can do it,” the ex-chancellor added, warning that the party “must appeal to swing voters everywhere”.

“I passionately believe and all the evidence supports it that I am the candidate that offers our party the best opportunity of winning that election and making sure that Keir Starmer never walks through the doors of 10 Downing Street,” he added.

Truss touts creation of ‘the British version of Silicon Valley'

Friday 5 August 2022 19:57 , Andy Gregory

Liz Truss is now speaking with the hustings host, former No 10 adviser Jimmy McLoughlin, and has defied conventional wisdom with a claim that people in the UK below the age of 30 are “natural Conservatives”.

“They’re more likely to have started up their own business than older generations, they’re more likely to have a ‘side hustle’,” the foreign secretary said, describing “a real generation of self-starters who have had to cope with the difficulties of Covid”.

The Covid pandemic has created a sort of resilience in her daughters, Ms Truss added, saying that Tories must show they are on the side of this generation, by making it easier for people to get on the housing ladder and “looking at levels of interest in the student loan system” to make sure people are getting “a fair deal”.

Mostly, the government must show there is hope, and an optimistic future ahead of us, Ms Truss said, talking about unleashing investment in our economy to the tune of tens of billions, adding: “We can create the British version of Silicon Valley.”

Economic forecasts “are not destiny”, Ms Truss said, warning we should “not be talking ourselves into a recession”.

Truss says Lib Dem activism was the ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ of her youth

Friday 5 August 2022 19:59 , Andy Gregory

People may know that I have a “dubious past”, Liz Truss has said of her youth as a Lib Dem activist, saying: “We all have teenage misadventures and that was mine.”

Asked if that was the naughtiest thing she’d ever done, the foreign secretary drew laughs from the audience as she added: “Some people have sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, I was in the Liberal Democrats.”

Truss interrupted again by climate protester

Friday 5 August 2022 20:08 , Andy Gregory

During audience questions to Liz Truss, another protester has interrupted proceedings to warn about climate breakdown.

“Someone obviously has a mic who shouldn’t have one,” an audience member at the hustings could be heard remarking.

Ms Truss said: “I take it as a compliment that I’m so popular with Extinction Rebellion.”

Truss says more people must return to offices

Friday 5 August 2022 20:12 , Andy Gregory

Liz Truss has said it is “important that we get more people back into offices because we need to make sure that our town and city centres thrive”.

The foreign secretary said that “while it worked to some extent during Covid, I certainly got Zoom fatigue and there were a lot of people in the Civil Service got Zoom fatigue, so I think we do need to try and encourage people to come into the office more than they do at present.”

Truss vows to ‘continue stand up to Putin and Lavrov'

Friday 5 August 2022 20:17 , Andy Gregory

An audience member has suggested that Vladimir Putin “must have been over the moon when Boris Johnson fell”, asking what Liz Truss would do to make the Russian president “less smug and put heart into the gallant Ukrainians”.

Praising Mr Johnson, the foreign secretary said she didn’t “think many leaders have achieved” having a street in Ukraine and croissant named after them, adding: “It is because of the leadership we’ve shown in Ukraine.”

“I will continue to stand up to Putin, stand up to [Russian foreign secretary Sergei] Lavrov”, adding: “It is important that it’s not just about rhetoric, but it’s also hard security the UK is investing in. That’s why I intend to increase defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP.”


Sunak: Tories will kiss goodbye to winning election unless inflation is controlled

Friday 5 August 2022 20:35 , Jane Dalton

Asked whether he would release data on various issues going wrong, Rishi Sunak advocates reforming public services to cut people’s taxes.

He said that, unless inflation is under control, “we can kiss goodbye to winning that next election”.

Asked by the host and former Downing Street adviser Jimmy McLoughlin what his pitch to win a fifth term would be, Mr Sunak said: “Well, the first thing we need to do in order to make sure we can win that election is have got through this inflation problem by then.

“And that’s why I’m particularly worried about policies that risk making it worse and last longer.

“Because this is a problem that isn’t just for this winter. It’s a problem for next winter as well, and beyond.

“Because as the Bank of England said they are worried about inflation becoming embedded, then there’s no hope that we’re going to win that next election. Absolutely none. It’s as simple as that.

“We all heard what they said yesterday, all of you saw the numbers. And if we don’t get a grip of this thing and get a grip of it fast, then we can kiss goodbye to winning that next election.

“So the first thing to put ourselves in a position to win is to get through inflation and get through it quickly and not do things worse.”

Let’s crack down on developers, says Sunak

Friday 5 August 2022 20:38 , Jane Dalton

Mr Sunak blamed developers for sitting on land and said he wanted to crack down on them, including buying back land they were sitting on.

Sunak hints he might back leaving ECHR

Friday 5 August 2022 20:42 , Jane Dalton

No option should be off the table over whether to leave the European Court of Human Rights, Mr Sunak says.

Not being able to tell countries to take back failed asylum-seekers was “clearly bonkers”, he added. And the UK must have control of its borders.

Candidates’ policy summaries omitted climate crisis

Friday 5 August 2022 20:47 , Jane Dalton

An audience member reveals that a paper sent to members outlining the candidates’ policies made no mention of the climate crisis.

Mr Sunak said he believes in the net-zero target but rushing would mean losing support.

It was about building innovation, he claimed, and unlocking the ingenuitiy of the private sector, he said.

Sunak slates Truss’s corporation tax plan

Friday 5 August 2022 20:54 , Jane Dalton

Mr Sunak took a swipe at Ms Truss’s plan to ditch the large rise in corporation tax.

On what he will do to help businesses grow, the former chancellor told the Tory leadership hustings in Eastbourne: “We have had this debate on corporation tax. I don’t want to stick with the failed policies of the past. That’s what some people are suggesting. It hasn’t worked.

“If we want businesses to actually invest in the economy, to expand their factories, to put more lines in, to produce more things, that’s how we create more jobs. That’s how we get inflation down, if companies are producing more. We need to cut the taxes on those things.”

He added: “Focusing on corporation tax hasn’t achieved that. Investment in this economy today, no better than it was a decade ago, in spite of us doing all those things on corporation tax.

“Because it’s not the right tax to focus on. And that’s where my experience in business, my time as chancellor, my conversations with business have led me to the conclusion we need to be much more radical.

“We need to reform business taxes to cut them on the things that make a difference. And that’s business investment, business innovation. If we get those tax cuts in place, then we can help those businesses expand, grow, create jobs and prosperity and crucially help get inflation down.”

Friday 5 August 2022 22:28 , Katy Clifton

Thanks for following our live politics updates, we’ll be back tomorrow with more Tory leadership coverage.