Cost of living news: Sunak says government has moral responsibility to help in crisis

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Tom Newton Dunn calls Truss’s media attack ‘cheap’ after she apologises at end of hustings

Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak has said the Government has a “moral responsibility” to help families through the cost-of-living crisis as he promised billions of pounds in additional support.

The former chancellor, who has acknowledged he is trailing foreign secretary Liz Truss in the race for No 10, insisted that he would rather lose than promise “false things I can’t deliver”.

Earlier, Ms Truss – who had previously opposed further “handouts” – denied that she had ruled out additional direct help for families struggling with soaring energy bills.

She said that if she became prime minister on September 5, she would instruct the chancellor to look at the issue “in the round” and to come up with a solution.

“If I am elected as your prime minister I will make sure the chancellor has an emergency budget and looks at this issue in the round and sorts this issue out,” she told a GB News audience.

Mr Sunak’s supporters said she appeared to be backing away from her previous position.

“This is a major U-turn on the biggest issue currently facing the country,” a campaign spokesman said.

See below for what was our live coverage on 10 August:

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Welcome to The Independent’s UK politics blog for 10 August 2022 where we provide the latest on the Tory leadership race and everything that is buzzing in Westminster.

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Truss dismisses calls to discuss cost of living support with Sunak and Johnson

Describing it as “constitutionally, deeply undesirable” and a “kangaroo committee”, Liz Truss has dismissed calls to get together with Boris Johnson and her rival Rishi Sunak to discuss the cost of living crisis.

The frontrunner to replace Mr Johnson said she is concentrating on her work as foreign secretary.

Industry leaders have urged the two candidates in the race to be the next prime minister to get together to discuss more support for households.

Tony Danker, the director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said they should “agree a common pledge to support people and help quell fears” as experts warned energy bills could top a devastating £3,500 from October and £4,000 by the spring.

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First Tory MP switches support from Sunak to Truss

Chris Skidmore, a Conservative MP for Kingswood, has switched his support from Rishi Sunak to Liz Truss in the Tory leadership race.

He has become the first Conservative MP to publically announce his defection.

Mr Skidmore told The Telegraph that he is switching support because he had become “increasingly concerned” by Mr Sunak’s “consistently changing position” on policy.

“It is never too late to make the right decision,” he said urging others to join him in supporting the foreign secretary.

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Boris Johnson defends leaving cost-of-living crisis response to his successor

Speaking at a Downing Street reception on Tuesday, Boris Johnson said he was “absolutely certain” his successor will do more to ease the cost-of-living crisis for people.

He cracked jokes about it being one of his last events in the garden at Number 10, and the next prime minister being either a man or a woman.

“Whoever he or she may be, they, I’m absolutely certain, will be wanting to make some more announcements in September, October about what we’re going to do further in the next period, in December, January,” he said.

“I just want you to know that I’m absolutely confident we will have the fiscal firepower and the headroom to look after people as we’ve done throughout.”

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Soaring inflation leaves departments needing £44bn cash boost

UK government departments are in need of a £44bn cash boost to plug a hole caused by inflation, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The think tank said in an analysis published on Wednesday that soaring inflation is expected to erase more than 40 per cent of the planned real-terms increase in funding for public services in the span of the next three years.

“Higher inflation makes the government’s plans for public service spending less generous than they were originally intended to be,” says Ben Zaranko, senior research economist at the IFS.

“Fully compensating departments and returning to the real-terms growth path set out last autumn could require at least £8bn of additional spending this year, and an extra £18bn in each of the next two years.”

It added that millions of families will be forced to pay an extra £30bn a year in tax as inflation is dragging people into higher income tax bands.

“Even if the new prime minister were to undo the [NI] rise, overall taxes on income would still rise under current policy,” Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, said.

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Ministers to meet energy giants tomorrow for crisis talks

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will meet energy giants on Thursday to discuss rising prices to ease the cost of living for millions of people, The Sun reported.

The gas and electricity leaders are expected to submit a breakdown of their profits and payouts as well as investment plans for the next three years.

It comes after analysts warned that energy bills could exceed £4,200 in the new year as a result of Ofgem planning to lift the price cap once again, after a move to lift it to £3,582 in October.

“If you look back at what these firms were projected to make and what they actually brought in, it was beyond their wildest expectations. We are looking at options to go further and faster on those profits,” a Treasury source told The Sun.

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Rishi Sunak denies he ‘wielded the dagger’ in Boris Johnson’s downfall

Rishi Sunak has told a Conservative member he was “simply wrong to say I wielded the dagger” in Boris Johnson’s downfall.

The remarks from the Tory leadership contender at the latest hustings event came as he defended his decision to quit as chancellor last month — just minutes after health secretary Sajid Javid resigned.

In the hours that followed, dozens of ministers also quit Mr Johnson’s government, while MPs in the Conservative Party expressed no confidence in the prime minister, who reluctantly set out his decision to resign.

Read Ashley Cowburn’s full report.

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Theresa Villiers says MPs ‘inevitably change their minds’ during leadership contests

Conservative MP Theresa Villiers, who is backing Rishi Sunak in the party’s leadership race, said that “inevitably MPs change their mind during these contests”, when asked about the defection of MP Chris Skidmore to supporting Liz Truss.

“I talk every day to Conservative Party members, he’s got a huge amount of support and he has got great plans for our economy,” Ms Villiers told Sky News.

She added that MPs changing their minds “is a routine part of every Conservative leadership election contest there’s ever been”.

She added: “Rishi had a tremendously good hustings in Darlington last night, in the Sky hustings he won over that audience, he’s getting a tremendous reception on the ground – he’s campaigning to win.”

Theresa Villiers is backing Rishi Sunak

(PA Archive)

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All this blue-on-blue Tory conflict is just handing Labour ammunition

It can be funny how things turn out, can’t it? A mere six or seven years ago David Cameron decided to hold the ill-fated EU referendum, reportedly muttering “I can do this” to those who urged prevarication and caution. When the referendum did get under way, Cameron then went to great lengths to try and prevent blue-on-blue conflict – that is, members of his own government laying into each other making the task of reunifying the party after he’d won the referendum much more difficult.

Sean O’Grady writes how Tory leadership is engaged in all-out fighting

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Conservative MP Theresa Villiers says Rishi Sunak has ‘huge amount of support’

Theresa Villiers, who is backing Rishi Sunak in the party’s leadership race, said “no government can insulate everyone” from the rising cost of energy, but that Mr Sunak “certainly recognises that we need to do more”.

Ms Villiers told Sky News: “Rishi’s determined, if he’s PM, to do as much as he can to help people through what is a crisis around the world with energy bills.

“I mean, sadly no government can insulate everyone from all these costs, but Rishi certainly recognises that we need to do more and he’s already said we should suspend VAT on energy bills.”

When asked about the defection of MP Chris Skidmore to supporting Liz Truss, she said “inevitably MPs change their mind during these contests”.

“I talk every day to Conservative Party members, he’s got a huge amount of support and he has got great plans for our economy,” Ms Villiers said.



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