UK

Rishi Sunak hits out at Liz Truss over ‘complacent’ economic policies

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ishi Sunak took a fresh swipe at his rival’s tax-cutting plans as he warned against complacency in the face of soaring inflation as he insisted that it is not “realistic” to pretend there are no “hard choices” in government.

The former chancellor visited his old family pharmacy in Southampton on Wednesday afternoon.

“My plan is not to make inflation worse at a time when it is already high, rising and interest rates are rising.

“And my plan is not just to get through the immediate challenges we face but to actually build a better Britain,” he said.

(PA Graphics) / PA Graphics

“I have been saying consistently since the start of this campaign that the number one challenge the new prime minister faces is inflation.

“I am confident that my plan is the right one for our country.

“Inflation has got to be the priority and that is why I will grip it in a way that no one else will.”

Rishi Sunak during a visit to his family’s old business, Bassett Pharmacy, in Southamptpn, Hampshire (Stefan Rousseau/PA) / PA Wire

He added: “Actually, alternative plans that are complacent about the risk of inflation pretend that we can just borrow tens of billions of pounds and that there are no hard choices for Government, I don’t think are realistic.”

Mr Sunak, who is seen to be trailing behind Liz Truss in the Conservative leadership contest, has been campaigning hard to win over any wavering voters in the dying days of the campaign.

He tried to draw a link between the early years be spent working in the pharmacy with his plans for the country, if he becomes prime minister.

Mr Sunak said he would bring the values of “strong family, community service, small business” to government if elected as Tory leader, as he said: “This was the chemists that my mum used to run.

“This was the family business that I grew up in, working just behind us in the dispensary and the shop.

“It really informed who I am actually, these are the values that I was brought up with, strong family, community service, small business.

“That shaped me to being the person I am today, these are my roots and it is those values that I want to bring to Government.

“I want to create a country where hard work is rewarded, where families are strong and supported and where aspiration is something that is celebrated.

“That is the type of prime minister I want to be.”

Liz Truss (Jacob King/PA) / PA Wire

Mr Sunak, who also visited his father’s old GP surgery, had earlier appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where he once again compared his approach to Margaret Thatcher’s as he pointed out that supporters of Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies, including former chancellor Lord Lawson, were backing him.

The leadership contest runs until September 5 and critics have complained it is dragging on for too long, leaving the country without an effective government until the new occupant of No 10 is in place.

On BBC Radio 4, he declined to be drawn on whether he would revolt and vote against Ms Truss’ emergency budget if she became prime minister.

It comes days after he fuelled speculation that he would turn down a job in any Truss Cabinet, after he suggested he would not enjoy working with a prime minister with whom he disagreed.

Asked if the Conservative Party is “hopelessly divided” at the moment, he said: “No, what I’m doing is focusing on the contest right now and actually … all these questions as if the contest is already over are not ones that I’m entertaining, because I’m fighting really hard for everyone’s vote.”

He said: “I think my plan is the right one for the country.

“I think I’m the right person to be prime minister at this time.”

Ms Truss, seen as the frontrunner in the contest, refused to commit on Tuesday at a hustings in Birmingham to appointing an ethics adviser if she becomes prime minister.

Rishi Sunak during a visit to his father’s old doctors surgery (Stefan Rousseau/PA) / PA Wire

Mr Sunak said that he wants to run a government with “decency and integrity”.

“I think standards matter in public life, I would appoint a new ethics adviser,” he said in Southampton.

Defence minister James Heappey, a supporter of Ms Truss, earlier said she was “in the business of cutting taxes”.

Asked on Times Radio whether people should be expecting to pay more in other taxes as a result of the Foreign Secretary’s pledge to reverse the rise in national insurance contributions, he said: “There’s definitely not any part of Liz’s body, as far as I can tell, that agrees with raising taxes.”

Ms Truss used Tuesday night’s leadership hustings in Birmingham to reject criticism of her tax-cutting plans.

“This whole language of ‘unfunded’ tax cuts implies the static model, the so-called abacus economics that the Treasury orthodoxy has promoted for years, but it hasn’t worked in our economy because what we have ended up with is high tax, high spending and low growth,” she said.

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