Sunak clings to taxes until he ‘gets a grip on inflation’


Rishi Sunak will try Tuesday to fend off fierce attacks from his rivals for the conservative leadership, urging an official campaign launch that he would cut taxes only if he “gets inflation under control”.

The former chancellor will reiterate his commitment to fiscal discipline and warn his leadership rivals, some of whom want immediate major tax cuts, that voters deserved “honesty and accountability”.

He will say, “I have a plan to see our country through this headwind. Once we have inflation under control, I will lower the tax burden. It’s a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’.”

Under rules agreed to Monday night by the Tory Backbench 1922 committee, 20 nominations are needed for a candidate to run for the first ballot on Wednesday — a hurdle that will remove some “no hopes.”

Candidates need 30 votes to reach the second round, which takes place on Thursday. The last two candidates will be determined early next week, possibly as early as Monday.

Many Tory MPs are confident Sunak will make the final shortlist of two names after MPs go through a breakneck process to narrow a field of 11 candidates vying to become Britain’s next prime minister.

But he could then face a rival who promises a small state and lower taxes — such as Secretary of State Liz Truss — a message that could resonate with Tory activists who will determine the winner.

A survey by ConservativeHome, an activist website, found that Penny Mordaunt, Commerce Secretary, and former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, were rated higher than Sunak by party members, with Truss in fourth.

A leader of a rival campaign said: “Rishi will be in the last two, but all the Boris Johnson crowd and the right of the Tory are out to get him.” His critics claim he was “treacherous” towards Johnson and is a serial tax raiser.

The last two names will be submitted to Tory members for a final choice over the summer, with a view to electing a new leader – and thus prime minister – when the House of Commons returns on September 5.

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Sunak emerged as the clear bookmakers’ favorite on Monday with 38 publicly declared Tory MPs backing him by the evening; Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of Commerce, was next with 23 donors.

Truss and Badenoch are also making progress, while Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, is supported by the party’s moderate One Nation wing.

Sunak is under pressure from his rivals. Sajid Javid, the former health minister, and Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor, both on Monday criticized Sunak’s track record of raising taxes to its highest overall level in 70 years.

Javid, who launched his own leadership bid, also did a sharp dig at Sunak, saying that unlike the former chancellor, he didn’t have a “ready-made logo or slick video ready to go”.

Many Tory MPs believe Sunak will face a tax cut candidate from the right of the Tory and an ally of Sunak said: “He needs to resolve the tax issue quickly.”

Mordaunt, a Brexiter not widely known in the country but popular with grassroots Tories, bills herself as a ‘small state, low tax’ Tory, but she also wants to invest in infrastructure and innovation to drive growth. to stimulate.

Membership in the Conservative party — believed to number more than 100,000 — is often considered older and more right-wing than typical Tory voters and more likely to be a candidate from the right.

Sir Keir Starmer, Labor leader, criticized the candidates for making largely unfunded tax cuts. “The fantasy economy’s arms race is in full swing,” he said.

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