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Tory leadership latest: Liz Truss ally accuses Rishi Sunak of ‘flip-flopping’ after tax U-turn


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

Kwasi Kwarteng, a cabinet ally of Liz Truss, has joined opposition parties in accusing Rishi Sunak of having “flip-flopped and U-turned” with a new tax pledge to temporarily scrap VAT on all domestic fuel – a move he voted against earlier this year as it would “disproportionately benefit wealthier households”.

The ex-chancellor’s bid to the low-tax favouring Tory faithful – who will soon cast deciding votes over which of the pair should succeed Boris Johnson – came as the foreign secretary’s “incoherent” pledge to impose targets for police to cut murders by a fifth was criticised by senior policing figures.

In yet another appeal to the heavily right-wing Tory selectorate, who are likely to be swayed by culture war issues, Ms Truss’s allies seized on a report in the Daily Telegraph claiming that in 2020 her special adviser wrote to Dominic Cummings urging him to scrap hundreds of “woke” civil service posts.

It comes after the second live head-to-head debate was cancelled after moderator Kate McCann fainted 30 minutes into the broadcast.


Sam Tarry mistakenly ‘promotes himself to shadow transport secretary’

Some observers of Labour shadow transport minister Sam Tarry’s interview round from the RMT picket line at London Euston this morning have picked up on the fact that he appears to have mistakenly promoted himself to shadow transport secretary – a position currently held by Louise Haigh.


Truss campaign attacks Sunak’s ‘screeching U-turn’

Liz Truss’s campaign has criticised Rishi Sunak’s new pledge to cut VAT on domestic fuel bills if the energy price cap meets forecasts to rise above £3,000 as a “screeching U-turn”.

“It’s good that Rishi has finally woken up and decided to offer something to people struggling with the rising cost of living,” a source from Ms Truss’s campaign said.

“However, this feels like a screeching U-turn from someone who has spent the last few weeks of the leadership campaign branding everyone else’s tax cuts immoral and fairytales”.


Watch: Labour frontbencher defies Starmer to join RMT picket line

There is now some speculation over whether Sir Keir Starmer could sack Sam Tarry as a shadow transport minister – after he defied the Labour leader’s orders not to join RMT picket lines.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds told Sky News that it was something the whips would likely be looking at “in terms of it being a disciplinary matter”.

Here is what Mr Tarry had to say earlier this morning:

Labour shadow transport minister Sam Tarry explains why he joined RMT picket line


Cabinet minister accuses Sunak of ‘flip-flopping’ on tax pledge

Asked whether Rishi Sunak could win a general election, Kwasi Kwarteng told LBC: “He has flip-flopped and U-turned on this tax issue, which I find somewhat concerning, but he is a capable politician and a very likeable chap.”

Mr Sunak rejected calls in February for a VAT cut to energy bills, telling the Commons “there would be no guarantee that suppliers would pass on the discounts to all customers”.

The ex-chancellor has now promised to temporarily scrap VAT on domestic fuel bills if the price cap – currently just under £2,000 a year for the average home – exceeds £3,000 as is forecast by experts, in a U-turn potentially worth £160 a year to the average household, at a cost of £4.3bn to the Treasury.

In addition to the business secretary’s criticism of the move, Labour’s shadow treasury minister Pat McFadden accused him of “acting as his own personal rebuttal unit”, while the Liberal Democrats said “this sounds like another Sunak Swindle”.


Truss policy of ‘cutting murders by a fifth’ questioned by senior policing figures

Senior police sources have told The Independent’s home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden of their scepticism of Liz Truss’s “incoherent” new policy to impose targets on police to cut murders by one fifth.

A long-serving senior officer noted that Ms Truss made no mention of how her government would fund dedicated work to address underlying issues, such as with domestic abuse and gang culture.

“If you set a target for policing you run the risk of skewing behaviour, whether that’s in practice or recording,” he warned, saying an official review had already “smashed to bits” the idea that targets prevent crime or improve victims’ experiences.

Another senior policing source said that past targets had caused police to neglect vital areas of crime, such as child abuse and sexual offences, warning: “Targets can really send things the wrong way … This is a throwback to the incoherent ignorance of past politicians.”

Here is more reaction to the foreign secretary’s plans this morning:


Democracy campaign aims to fight Tories in 30 seats to drive through political reform

Our political editor Andrew Woodock reports:

Democracy campaigner Gina Miller is launching a drive to make the next general election a watershed moment for pushing through reform of the UK’s “broken” political system.

Ms Miller’s True and Fair Party aims to recruit up to 30 candidates to fight incumbent Conservative MPs who have failed to “live up to basic standards of integrity or competence”.

She believes that the wave of public distrust in politicians could deliver the party enough MPs to hold the balance of power in a hung parliament and drive through fundamental reforms.

In return for propping up a minority Labour government on a “confidence and supply” basis, TFP MPs would demand changes to the political system, including proportional representation and legislation to put ministerial standards on a legal footing.


Sunak’s new VAT cut pledge is deflationary, Shapps says

Transport secretary Grant Shapps, an ally of Rishi Sunak, has defended the former chancellor’s plan to scrap VAT on energy bills, rejecting accusations that the leadership hopeful was “flip-flopping” on the move which he argued – and voted – against earlier this year.

“The thing is, with this particular cut, what it does not do is add to inflation – in fact in the short term it would be deflationary because people’s costs would reduce, in the medium term it would not have an impact on the consumer prices index,” Mr Shapps told ITV’s Good Morning Britain show.

Put to him that it is a “flip-flop”, Mr Shapps said: “If he hadn’t produced £37bn of support, about £1,200 to the hardest-up households already – if he hadn’t done any of that and then suddenly did it then you would have a point.

“But he has, he has been providing all this support, now he is saying, ‘Here’s something that won’t add to inflation that would save every person watching your programme £160 off their energy bills’ – I think that’s worthwhile.”


Transport secretary calls for Labour to sack frontbencher who joined picket line

Labour’s transport’s spokesman Sam Tarry has defied Keir Starmer by joining striking rail workers on the RMT union’s picket line at London’s Euston station – prompting a call for him to be sacked.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said: “He is clearly in direct defiance of Sir Keir Starmer. No doubt he’ll want to remove him from his job.”

And Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds told Sky News that it was something the whips would likely be looking at “in terms of it being a disciplinary matter”.

Asked earlier by the broadcaster if he feared the sack, the shadow minister replied: “I’ve no idea what Keir will decide to do but I know this – if Keir was in government right now, this dispute wouldn’t be happening.”

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more details here:


Truss would win general election as she’s ‘a politician many people don’t know’, ally suggests

Asked why he thought Liz Truss would win the next general election, Kwasi Kwarteng – a supporter of hers – said that the foreign secretary was “a politician that many people don’t know”.

The business secretary told LBC that Ms Truss has a “very wide appeal” and claimed that she “had a fresh, optimistic, dynamic approach” during the head-to-head TV debates this week.


Sunak tax U-turn and debate conduct show he is ‘under a lot of pressure’, Truss ally claims

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng – a senior ally of Liz Truss – has suggested that Rishi Sunak’s U-turn on cutting VAT on energy bills and his handling of the TV debates were a sign he is under pressure in the leadership race.

“I think he’s under a lot of pressure,” Mr Kwarteng told Times Radio. “That’s why we see all these statements: he was the person who said the VAT cut would disproportionately benefit rich families and now he’s saying that a VAT cut on energy bills is the right thing.

“He was saying that tax cuts were a fairytale, now he is proposing an unfunded tax cut. There comes a time in campaigns when people are under a lot of pressure, he clearly felt under a lot of pressure in the debate and he wanted to get out on the front foot and interrupt Liz.

“I think that was the wrong look for him, I think that was the wrong action, but I can understand why he did that.”


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