Asked if she would sit down with Johnson and Sunak to agree support on rising energy bills, Truss calls the idea ‘bizarre’
Liz Truss was criticised for her repeated “cheap” jibes at the media by Talk TV host Tom Newton Dunn at the end of the latest Tory leadership hustings event, after she blamed journalists for Boris Johnson’s downfall.
The foreign secretary, who is the front runner in the race to succeed Mr Johnson as prime minister, had accused “some of the media” of trying to “talk our country down” in the event and said Newton Dunn asked questions in a “leftwing way”.
“For the record, that’s the third time you’ve attacked the media – a lot of which supports your campaign,” Newton Dunn said at one point. At the end of the event he told Ms Truss her jibes at the media were “cheap – and you know it”.
Ms Truss also dismissed calls to get together with Mr Johnson and her rival Rishi Sunak to discuss the cost of living crisis and agree upon a support package before the Tory leadership contest concludes, branding it “bizarre”.
Chancellor and Business Secretary ‘calling energy firms to ‘knock heads together’
Education Secretary James Cleverly said the Chancellor and Business Secretary were “calling in” the leaders of the big energy companies to “knock some heads together”.
He told Good Morning Britain: “The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Nadhim Zahawi) and the Business Secretary (Kwasi Kwarteng) are actually calling in the leaders of those big energy companies to knock some heads together and basically hold them to account about what they’re going to do with those profits.
“The increase in energy costs has been driven by the war in Ukraine and a global crunch, this is affecting everyone pretty much across the world, everyone in the developing world is seeing those energy bills go up. What we need to do is make sure that we have a short, medium and long term plan, so the Chancellor and the Business Secretary are getting those energy companies in as part of the short-term response.”
He added: “Our system means that once the Prime Minister has said he is going to stand down there is a well-established principle which is that an outgoing Prime Minister should not make very big policy-changing decisions.
“I’m supporting Liz Truss, as you know she’s made it very, very clear that she will be bringing forward an emergency budget. She’s already announced that she’s going to lift some of those … green levies temporarily, to ease the cost.”
MP claims Labour ‘would not have allowed energy crisis to get to this point’
Labour MP Bridget Phillipson has said the energy crisis is “deeply, deeply worrying” and that a Labour government “wouldn’t have let things get to this point in the first place”.
The shadow education secretary told BBC Breakfast: “I know just how terrified people are – that’s why we’ve been saying for months that we need an emergency budget to bring forward immediate help for families and pensioners.
“We’ve known that this has been coming and we think we should cut VAT on gas and electricity bills to deliver immediate support to families and pensioners.
“They tell me just how terrified they are about what’s coming, but this is part of a much bigger cost-of-living crisis too … prices are rising everywhere, so we do need to see more action around this.”
Ms Phillipson added that the system “is broken” and she reiterated that if Keir Starmer was prime minister “we would not have got to this point.”
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.
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
The Tory party has been far from unified since Brexit – now they’re engaged in all-out fighting, writes Sean O’Grady
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.”
Rishi Sunak denies he ‘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.
‘It was 60 other members of parliament that also thought enough was enough’
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.
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.
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.”
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.