Rishi Sunak dealt killer blow to leadership hopes after Liz Truss secures huge endorsement

Rishi Sunak defends 'inconsistency' over tax policies

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The Chancellor praised Ms Truss for her “booster” economic plans as he took a cutting swipe at Rishi Sunak’s record at the Treasury. He accused his predecessor of having a “doomster” approach to the country’s finances, warning: “The status quo isn’t an option in times of crisis.”

The endorsement from the popular Conservative minister and former leadership candidate comes on the same day ballot papers are starting to land on the doorsteps of party members.

A large number of those with a vote on who will be the next Prime Minister of the UK are thought to have already made up their minds on who they want in the top job. They are set to vote in the coming days.

It leaves Mr Sunak with a huge job to do if he is to turn the tide in the contest to replace Boris Johnson.

He has been dealt a series of blows after a number of his cabinet colleagues publicly confirmed their support for Ms Truss.

Over the last three days, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and foreign affairs committee chair Tom Tugendhat have both also thrown their weight behind the frontrunner.

Mr Wallace attacked Mr Sunak for his resignation from Government, saying that “triggering cabinet ministers walking out at the time of a crisis” was wrong.

The Wyre and Preston North MP praised Ms Truss: “She’s very straight, she’s authentic, what you see is what you get.”

Meanwhile, Mr Tugendhat said the Foreign Secretary had a vision for the country based on “true Conservative principles”.

Giving his own backing on Ms Truss today, Mr Zahawi said he had seen first hand the need for a change to the economic approach since having taken over from Mr Sunak last month.

He wrote in The Telegraph: “Liz understands that the status quo isn’t an option in times of crisis.

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“To quote the excellent economist Sam Bowman, we need a ‘booster’ attitude to the economy, not a ‘doomster’ one, in order to address cost-of-living woes and the challenges that face us on the world stage.

“I’ve now got my feet under the desk in No11 Downing Street, and I can tell you that my Treasury officials are some of the most intelligent, professional and hard-working people anywhere in the world.

“But they need the political leadership to deliver a step-change in how we run the nation’s finances, and Liz’s plans for a low-tax economy that puts growth first are what we need.”

Polls have shown Ms Truss is now the firm favourite among the Tory grassroots to become leader.

In a desperate bid to increase his support ahead of what could be a make or break week, Mr Sunak today attempted to shake off his image as the tax-hiking former chancellor by promising the “biggest income tax cut since Margaret Thatcher’s government”.

He vowed to slash the basic rate from 20 percent to 16 percent within seven years if he becomes Prime Minister.

He said: “Firstly I will never get taxes down in a way that just puts inflation up. Secondly, I will never make promises I can’t pay for. And thirdly I will always be honest about the challenges we face.

“Because winning this leadership contest without levelling with people about what lies ahead would not only be dishonest, it would be an act of self-sabotage that condemns our party to defeat at the next general election and consigns us to a long period in opposition”.

Responding to the announcement, MP Simon Clarke, who is backing Ms Truss, said: “Liz will cut taxes in seven weeks, not seven years.”

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