Sunak and Truss clash over tax plans ahead of debate

Rishi Sunak launched a fresh attack on Liz Truss’ plans for tax cuts ahead of the couple’s next debate on their bid to become prime minister.

The former Chancellor said her rival as foreign secretary in the Tory leadership race would continue to hike interest rates and raise mortgage payments with her plans.

His warning came as the Bank of England was forecast to hike interest rates from 1.25% to 1.75% on Thursday, the highest in almost three decades.

An announcement from the Bank of England is scheduled for midday, with experts warning that inflation could peak at 15%, adding to the already painful cost of living crisis with rising prices.


Rishi Sunak speaks at the All Nations Center in Cardiff during Wednesday’s hustings (Jacob King/PA)

Meanwhile, the two are scheduled to face each other in a head-to-head debate on Sky News on Thursday at 8pm.

Mr Sunak has faced attacks from Ms Truss for overseeing rising taxes during the pandemic in No 11 when she promised a more radical plan to cut them.

He has insisted he wants to see taxes cut, but argues there is a need to get inflation under control before making any major changes.

The former chancellor emphasized that there were “key differences” between their plans, “because timing is everything.”

“If we frontload tax cuts before we get inflation under control, we’re just giving with one hand and taking with the other,” he said in a statement.

“That would fuel inflation and raise interest rates and increase people’s mortgage payments. And it would mean every pound people get back is nothing more than a down payment on rising prices.

“A policy prospectus without hard choices may provide warm sentiment in the short term, but it will be cold comfort if it leaves Labor in the No. 10 and sends the Conservative Party into the wilderness of opposition.”

Ms Truss countered by saying “we can’t tax our path to growth” and insisted her plans wouldn’t push prices any higher.

“My economic plan will jump-start our economy by reforming the supply side, removing EU rules from our statute books and lowering taxes,” she said.

“Through bold supply-side reforms, we can fight inflation in the long term and achieve sustainable growth. Modest tax cuts — including scrapping a potentially ruinous corporate tax hike that hasn’t even come into effect — are not inflationary.”

Thursday’s debate follows an earlier head-to-head last week, which took place on TalkTV on July 26 and was suspended after presenter Kate McCann fainted off-camera while Ms Truss was speaking.

Ms McCann later said she felt “a little embarrassed, a little hurt, but happy to be back and it’s totally fine”.

On Wednesday, Ms Truss was bolstered by two polls that gave her overwhelming leads on Mr Sunak after the pair attended a husting in Cardiff.


Liz Truss speaks during the Cardiff Hustings (Jacob King/PA)

She gained a 34 percentage point lead over Mr Sunak in a YouGov poll of party members, before a poll for the ConservativeHome website released on Wednesday gave her a 32-point lead.

At the televised event, she also accused “the media” of “misreading” her abandoned £8.8billion pledge to cut public sector wage bills, with Mr Sunak welcoming the about-face.

She also renewed her attacks on Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon after saying she would ignore the “attention-seeker” and launched a fresh attack on Ms Sturgeon’s Welsh counterpart.

Ms Truss described First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford as a “low-energy version of Jeremy Corbyn,” the former Labor leader, and said his successor Sir Keir Starmer was a “plastic patriot”. Sunak and Truss clash over tax plans ahead of debate

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