Truss and Sunak vow to take action over energy crisis as next PM to be announced

A handout picture taken and released by the BBC on September 4, 2022 shows Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer (R) and Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (L) (BBC/AFP via Getty Images)
A handout picture taken and released by the BBC on September 4, 2022 shows Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer (R) and Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (L) (BBC/AFP via Getty Images)

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak vowed to tackle the energy crisis set to impact millions across the UK ahead of the announcement of the winner of the Tory leadership contest on Monday.

In their final interview ahead of the conclusion of the leadership contest, Ms Truss and her rival refused to give explicit detail of their plans, but insisted more would be done to help millions across the country this autumn, during an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

Ms Truss, who is the frontrunner to win the contest, said action on energy bills is “vital” as the enrgy price cap is expected to rise to £3,500 this autumn.

She said: “I will act if I’m elected as prime minister. I will act immediately on bills and on energy supply because I think those two things go hand in hand.

“We need to deal with the immediate problem, we need to help people. We need to help businesses. But we also need to sort out the supply issues.”

Repeatedly pressed on what form that action would take, Ms Truss said: “Before you have been elected as prime minister, you don’t have all the wherewithal to get the things done.

“This is why it will take a week to sort out the precise plans and make sure we are able to announce them. That is why I cannot go into details at this stage. It would be wrong. But what I want to be very clear about with the public is I understand that this is a huge problem.

“I understand people are worried and I want to reassure people that I am absolutely determined to sort out this issue as well within a month, present a full plan for how we are going to reduce taxes, how we’re going to get the British economy going, and how we are going to find our way out of these very difficult times.”

Despite not explicitly spelling out her plans, Ms Truss did say that any support must go in conjunction with boosting domestic energy supplies in order to increase the UK’s energy independence.

Earlier on Sunday, Ms Truss said she would set out a plan “within the first week” of her administration amid the challeneging economic climate expected for many later this year,

Writing for The Daily Telegraph, she said: “If elected, I plan within the first week of my new administration to set out our immediate action on energy bills and energy supply," she said.

"A fiscal event would follow later this month from my Chancellor, with a broader package of action on the economy."

Ms Truss also revealed that she will set up a “council of economic advisers”, comprising “a team of world-class economists, so my chancellor and I have the best ideas and latest research on how to get the economy moving”.

Mr Sunak was similarly coy over his plans to deal with the energy bill crisis, saying: “It wouldn’t be right or responsible for me to sit here and give you the exact to the pennies and the pound, and that’s because I’m not inside.

“I haven’t seen all the numbers and nation’s finances.”

Hitting out at Ms Truss’ plans to cut taxes, Mr Sunak has previously claimed it would fail those who need it most, particularly pensioners and people on lower incomes.

Asked what he would do on day one about energy bills, Mr Sunak said: "I think this is the most pressing issue facing the country. I said that from the beginning of the campaign and that's why I set out a clear plan and framework for how I would go about addressing it and providing support to people."

He added: "I think everyone is going to need some help given the scale of the challenge. And then two other groups of people who will need further help. That's those on the lowest incomes, about a third of all households in the country, and then the third group of pensioners."

Experts have warned that Ms Truss’ proposals – which include reversing the rise in national insurance and next year’s corporation tax increase from 19 per cent to 25 per cent - could exacerbate the cost of living crisis.

On Sunday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offered a stark warning, telling Sky News: “If she governs how she has campaigned over the summer, she will be a disaster – not just for Scotland but for all of the UK – but let’s hope that’s not the case, because this is a very serious time for the UK.”

Ms Truss appeared to brush off the warning while insisting that the UK had “been through worse”.

“With me, what you see is what you get. I don’t make promises I can’t keep. I follow through on what I’ll say I’ll do.

“I will be clear with the public about what we are going to face and there will be challenging circumstances, there’ll be difficult decisions to be made.

“Not all of those decisions will be popular but I will be honest about what we will have to do.

“I’m also somebody who is positive. I’m clear that we can deal with these issues, that Britain has been through worse, frankly, in the past. We have the capability, we have the attitude and we have the spirit to deal with the challenges.”