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Liz Truss vs Rishi Sunak latest: Ex-chancellor U-turns on VAT after presenter’s collapse cancels Tory TV debate

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Truss and Sunak TalkTV debate suddenly taken off air after big crash

Rishi Sunak is accused of making a U-turn as he promised to temporarily scrap VAT on all domestic fuel if he becomes prime minister.

The move, pitched as a part of the former chancellor’s “winter plan” to tackle inflation and the cost of living crisis, is being slammed as Mr Sunak had voted against it earlier this year saying it would “disproportionately benefit wealthier households”.

While shadow treasury minister Pat McFadden accused him of “acting as his own personal rebuttal unit”, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said “this sounds like another Sunak Swindle”.

It comes after the second live head-to-head between Liz Truss and Mr Sunak was cancelled after the debate’s moderator fainted mid-broadcast. The two Tory candidates had been sparring for 30 minutes when there was a loud crash in the studio with The Sun’s Showdown: The Fight for No 10 being abruptly taken off air.

TalkTV, the broadcaster hosting tonight’s debate, confirmed that presenter Kate McCann had fainted.

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ICYMI: Sunak accused of U-turn as he pledge to cut VAT on energy bills

Rishi Sunak has promised to temporarily scrap VAT on domestic fuel bills if he becomes prime minister, despite opposing the move for months while chancellor.

Labour has long called for the levy to be lifted as the cost of living crisis bites millions of families. But Mr Sunak voted against the move in January, and in February told the House of Commons it would “disproportionately benefit wealthier households”.

He later said it would be “silly” to offer additional help with bills ahead of an Ofgem decision on the energy price cap in October.

Mr Sunak’s U-turn – worth £160 a year to the average household at a cost of £4.3bn to the Treasury – is a bid to counter the appeal of Tory leadership rival Liz Truss, whose £30bn package of tax cuts promises has helped her build a commanding lead in polls of party members.

Read the details in this report from Andrew Woodcock:

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Politics explained: Keir Starmer is looking ahead to an election – hence his political rethink

It is one thing to execute a U-turn in government, when real-world forces and exigencies of the moment force a humiliating change in course; but quite another to do so quite voluntarily whilst still in opposition.

Read more from Sean O’Grady here:

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Watch: Sadiq Khan says Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are both just ‘continuity Boris Johnson’

Sadiq Khan says Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are both just ‘continuity Boris Johnson’

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Sunak promises support over autumn and winter

Liz Truss asked Rishi Sunak what he would do on day one of becoming prime minister to “relieve the money that people are struggling to pay out of their household budgets”.

Ms Truss told the TalkTV Tory leadership debate that she would reduce the green levy on energy bills, saying: “The major debate between Rishi and I is about the economy, what I am promising is to deliver tax cuts straight away and to relieve the burden on Sun readers’ pockets and bills.”

Mr Sunak said he was “going to ask Liz how she was spending her birthday”, which is today, saying “Happy Birthday, Liz.”

Answering her question, he said: “On this on this central question, and all Sun readers watching, you know what I’ve done over the past couple of years to help the country get through some really difficult times, whether it was creating the furlough scheme that hopefully protected many people’s jobs who are watching and listening tonight.”

He added that one of the last “things I did as chancellor was to make sure that we put support in place over the autumn and winter to help everyone with their energy bills, because I knew they were going to go up, a lot, and everyone’s going to receive help, and the most vulnerable in our society are going to get around £1,200 pounds, so that’s a enormous help with the bills.

“But I’ve always said that I’ll do more as the situation demands it and if it looks as it does look likely now that energy bills are even higher than we thought then of course, I as prime minister would come back and do more to help people through because that’s what I’ve done for the last couple of years.”

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Liz Truss orders police to cut murders by 20% in policy dismissed as ‘incoherent’

Liz Truss wants to impose targets on police to cut murders by one fifth if she becomes prime minister under a policy lambasted as “incoherent”.

The Tory leadership candidate told forces she would expect them to cut homicide, serious violence and “neighbourhood crime” by 20 per cent before the next general election.

Ms Truss said her government would publish “league tables” to show how each of the 43 forces in England and Wales are performing against national trends, and that the chief constables of those deemed to be underperforming would have to explain themselves to ministers.

Our home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden reports:

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Rishi Sunak promises to cut VAT from energy bills in cost of living crisis U-turn

Rishi Sunak has promised to temporarily scrap VAT on domestic fuel bills if he becomes prime minister, despite opposing the move for months while chancellor.

Labour has long called for the levy to be lifted as the cost of living crisis bites millions of families. But Mr Sunak voted against the move in January, and in February told the House of Commons it would “disproportionately benefit wealthier households”.

He later said it would be “silly” to offer additional help with bills ahead of an Ofgem decision on the energy price cap in October.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more:

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Boris Johnson ‘tipped to become next Nato chief’

A number of senior Tories are backing outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson to replace Jens Stoltenberg as secretary-general of Nato, reports The Telegraph.

Norwegian politician Mr Stoltenberg, who has held the role since 2014, is expected to step down in Spetmeber next year.

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Richard Drax MP, Mark Francois MP – both members of the defence committee – and David Jones, the former Brexit minister, spoke in favour of Mr Johnson taking on the defence role.

“If he were to apply to become the Secretary General of Nato, I suspect he could rely on President Zelensky for a reference,” Mr Francois told the newspaper.

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Many of tomorrow’s front pages are pasted with stills of No 10 hopeful Liz Truss reacting to the moment presenter Kate McCann fainted during Tuesday night’s leadership debate.

A loud crash was heard just over 30 minutes into the head-to-head between Ms Truss and Rishi Sunak.

Ms Truss was seen mouthing the words “Oh my God” before stepping away from the podium where she had been speaking.

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Starmer congratulates Lionesses on Euros semi-finals victory

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Watch: Keir Starmer says Tories ‘lost any real sense of purpose’ in BBC debate

Keir Starmer says Tories ‘lost any real sense of purpose’ in BBC debate

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