Rishi Sunak has time to win over Tory members and isn’t making promises he can’t keep, says top supporter – British Politics Live | Policy

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Liz Truss visited a children’s charity in Peteborough yesterday. Sky News published this footage, showing the young people she met had surprisingly strong opinions of Boris Johnson.


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Can Rishi Sunak beat Liz Truss in the Tory leadership race? Two of the best newspaper columns on this topic around today suggest that he probably can’t.

Prejudices could prevent Rishi Sunak from becoming prime minister. For Mr Sunak, the grandson of Indian immigrants, comes from a demographic that has long been unrepresented at the top of British politics: the Old Wykehamists.

Winchester, the posh school Mr Sunak attended, produces smart clogs who never make it to Prime Minister. Two former Labor chancellors, Stafford Cripps and Hugh Gaitskell, both attended the school, which now charges £45,936 ($55,000) in annual fees. Another alumnus is Geoffrey Howe, a former Tory chancellor who, like Mr Sunak, helped bring down a prime minister. In total, Winchester has six Chancellors but only one Prime Minister (more than two centuries ago). By contrast, Eton, a fancier school that advocates the virtue of leading on reading, has passed 20, including two of the last three.

John Stuart Mill once called the Conservatives “a stupid party”. It is unfair. But it is true that conservatives are suspicious of intelligence. They prefer a different characteristic: solidity. This trait is difficult to define. But, like pornography, conservatives know it when they see it. Roger Scruton, a right-wing thinker, wrote that “the essence of conservatism is inarticulate”. In other words, anything that can be greeted by the guttural barking Tory MPs use to show their approval (“Yeeeyeeeyeeeyeee”) is valid. The choice party members must now make when evaluating who to choose as their leader is between intelligence or toughness. Mr. Sunak is smart. Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary and her second-round opponent, is solid.

[Sunak] promises “radical” plans to “unleash growth”, but says no more. Having spoken to him over the years about the need for reform, I am sure he is sincere. But he will never have the chance to implement reforms unless he hurries up and tells people what his plans might be.

Truss is probably stealing. His ideas may be as fuzzy as Sunak says. She may not have a clue how she would come up with the money or what she should do if the debt markets got heavy. But it at least started with a firm promise to make a difference – and if there’s no difference, what’s the point of impeaching a prime minister?

Sunak seems to be betting that less is more: that he’s more believable because his offer isn’t searing. But with so little time, his strategy is perhaps, by far, the biggest bet.

Ladbrokesbetting firm, said this morning that although Liz Truss is the favorite in the Tory leadership race, with odds of 4/9, 62% of the bets she takes are on Rishi Sunak winning , at 7/4.

Rishi Sunak claims that 20,000 people have signed up to support his Tory leadership campaign.


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In his interview with Andrew Marr on LBC last night Rishi Sunak claimed he played a big role in the government’s decision to avoid a return to lockdown last Christmas. He told the program:

What I did in December was come back from a government trip abroad and came back to this country to stop us from sleepwalking into a nationwide lockdown. Because we were hours away from a press conference that was going to lock down this country again because of Omicron, and I came back and fought the system really hard because I think that would be the wrong thing for this country, with all the damage it would have harmed businesses, children’s education, people’s lives.

We were hours away. We were hours away from a nationwide lockdown, but I came back and challenged the system and said it was wrong, and we don’t need to do this. And I’m glad I won the argument.

In the Daily Mail (which strongly backs Liz Truss in the Tory leadership race) Jason Groves reports that Sunak’s version of this story is disputed by other government sources involved. Groves writes:

A source said Mr Sunak’s claim was “categorically untrue”.

“He was in California and planned to stay there on vacation until he started being criticized by businesses back home. It is categorically wrong to say that we were hours away from another lockdown.

“By the time he returned, the PM had already decided he didn’t want to go beyond the Plan B restrictions.”

Two Cabinet sources said that when Mr Johnson asked Mr Sunak for his views on the matter at a critical meeting, he replied: “Oh no, no one wants to hear from me, Prime Minister. “

It is not uncommon for accounts of how and when a particular decision was made in government, and the role played by a single individual, to vary. But this story is damaging as yesterday’s YouGov poll suggested that 40% of Tory members don’t see Sunak as honest, and that’s one of the reasons they like Liz Truss more.

Hamish Mackay

In his Sky News interview Robert Halfon, the Rishi Sunak supporter and Conservative chairman of the Commons Education Committee, also insisted that inflation was “the No.1 enemy of the cost of living” and that Sunak, not Liz Truss, had the best policies to bring it down.

Asked about Truss’ claim that Sunak’s high taxes had stifled growth, he replied:

I do not accept this story at all. Yes he lifted corporation tax but don’t forget we spent £400billion during Covid. I mentioned the £80 billion in interest on the debt that we have. Overall we are £2,000,000 in debt. You must repay some of this money.

But he also cut taxes. It reduced the national insurance tax for 70% of households. It also reduced business taxes for hospitality, retail and leisure.

Rishi Sunak has time to convince Tory members and doesn’t make promises he can’t keep, says top supporter

Hello. The final leg of the Conservative Party leadership race has just begun, but some YouGov polls last night suggested it may already be almost over. This suggested that Liz Truss had such a lead over Rishi Sunak with the members that it would be very difficult for her to catch up and pass her. The polls aren’t always good, of course, and opinions change as the campaign progresses, but Truss looks like the likely next prime minister.

Robert Halfon, the Tory chairman of the Commons Education Committee, is one of Sunak’s most prominent supporters and this morning told Sky News that Sunak had time to turn things around. When asked why the members didn’t seem to like Sunak, he replied:

These are the very first days of the contest. We have just completed the MP elections and the former chancellor will be touring the country to meet the members. I believe that when Rishi Sunak presents his case, more members will come out and support him because they know he doesn’t make promises he can’t keep – and that’s the most important thing.

One factor that may explain Sunak’s relative unpopularity with members is the perception that he stabbed Boris Johnson in the back, but Halfon insisted the accusation was unfair. He said:

Rishi Sunak was very loyal to the Prime Minister. He quit when he thought things had gone too far. He had differences with the Prime Minister over the economy, but he was there almost until the very end. He was loyal throughout the Partygate episode. Another MP went to see him and he refused to tolerate any form of disloyalty to the Prime Minister.

Halfon is referring to Andrew Murrison, who wrote an article for the Guardian outlining how his attempt to persuade Sunak a few months ago to lead a cabinet uprising against Johnson failed.

MPs have started their summer recess, and there is very little on Westminster’s agenda for today. But the Conservative leadership campaign continues and the news is not going to dry up.

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