Rishi Sunak said Liz Truss’s demand for a tax cut was not the “right priority” for the country as he brushed off questions about his predecessor stealing the limelight at the Conservative party conference.
The former prime minister, whose fall from office paved the way for Mr Sunak to enter No 10, was greeted by lengthy queues when she appeared in Manchester on Monday to call for tax cuts to “make Britain grow again”.
But Mr Sunak said those arguments had already been made during last year’s leadership contest, which led to her election and the calamitous mini-budget where markets were spooked by unfunded tax cuts.
The Truss-aligned Conservative Growth Group is said to have the support of 60 MPs, a sizeable chunk of the parliamentary party and enough to threaten Mr Sunak’s majority in the Commons.
Ms Truss has not been shy about calling for the Government to change course in a bid to boost growth, urging Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to cut corporation tax to 19% or less and to slash Government spending.
But Mr Sunak told ITV News: “I think we had this debate last summer, I’m not interested in looking at the past. I’m interested in doing the right thing for the country in the long term.
“Lots of people will have lots of ideas. I don’t think that’s the right priority. I’ve been very clear about that.”
He appeared unconcerned on Tuesday about the apparent popularity of his former leadership rival.
Asked on Times Radio if it worried him, he said: “No, not at all.
“Lots of Conservatives here. I think the mood is great.
“People are excited about the things we’re doing.”