Sunak Warns Millions of Brits May Face ‘Risk of Real Destitution‘ Due to Truss’ Tax Cut Plans
05:47 GMT 12.08.2022 (Updated: 15:20 GMT 28.05.2023)
Liz Truss repeatedly locked horns with her Tory leadership rival, Rishi Sunak, over the tax issue during live TV debates over the course of the PM election race, which kicked off following Boris Johnson’s announcement about his resignation on July 7.
Former UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s tax-cutting plans
may put millions of Britons in hot water, as the two Tory leadership candidates crossed swords over economic policy during a hustings in Cheltenham, England.
Speaking at Thursday’s event, Sunak berated Truss for what he described as a lack of action to shore up those who would not benefit from the foreign secretary’s planned reduction in national insurance contributions, including pensioners and unemployed people.
The ex-chancellor argued that if Tory members support Truss’ tax-based approach, “we are going to, as a Conservative government, leave millions of incredibly vulnerable people at the risk of real destitution. And I think that’s a real moral failure” of the party.
He cautioned that the country “will never ever forgive us” if the Conservatives do not provide “direct financial support” to millions of pensioners, admitting that the government will need to offer more help than he previously thought to assist vulnerable people with bills.
Sunak insisted that Truss’s tax plan would not give a helping hand to pensioners and people on “very low incomes”.
“So scrapping the health and social care levy, as she wants to do, is worth £1,700 to her on her salary. For someone working really hard on the national living wage, it’s worth just over a quid a week. And for someone who’s a pensioner, without any earnings, it’s worth zero. Now I want to provide direct support to those groups of people,” the former chancellor underscored.
His comments came after Truss reiterated in her own Q&A session at the Cheltenham hustings that tax cuts should be the main response to soaring bills, something that she stressed would always be her “first port of call”.
“I do not like [former UK Prime Minister] Gordon Brown-style economics where you take money off people in taxes and give it back in benefits. If the answer to every question is raising tax, we will choke off economic growth, and we will send ourselves to penury, and I think that’s a massive problem”, the foreign secretary claimed.
She ruled out a fresh windfall tax on energy companies if she becomes prime minister, in a pledge that followed Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi hinting during a Cabinet talks with energy firms that the Treasury was exploring new taxes on electricity generators.
“One thing I absolutely don’t support is a windfall tax. It’s a Labour idea and all about bashing business and it sends the wrong message to international investors and to the public”, Truss underlined.
The tax issue dominated a series of live TV debates between Truss and Sunak las month, during which the Tory leadership frontrunner in particular accused the former chancellor of raising taxes “to the highest level in 70 years,” which she said is “not going to drive economic growth.”
Sunak responded by claiming that the UK’s massive tax burden was the result of unprecedented levels of government spending aimed at keeping the national economy afloat amid the COVID-19. Truss then said no other country was raising taxes, and blamed Sunak for having no clear-cut plan for economic growth.
The ex-chancellor and the foreign secretary are the two remaining Tory leadership candidates
to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who announced in early July that he was stepping down. Sunak and Truss are currently rolling out their policy plans to woo the grassroots Tory party members who will vote for the next UK prime minister, due to be announced on September 5.