Rishi Sunak insists he WILL cut tax if he wins Tory leadership battle

Rishi Sunak insists he WILL cut tax if he wins Tory leadership battle… but only when he has got a ‘grip’ on inflation

  • Former chancellor Rishi Sunak lashed out at rivals making ‘fairy tale’ promises
  • Mr Sunak was speaking ahead of the formal launch of his leadership bid today
  • He says it is ‘a question of when, not if,’ the tax burden is cut if he becomes PM
  • Comes as leading ally of Liz Truss likened ex-Chancellor to an ‘accountant’ 
  • Rivals have thrown down gauntlet, with Nadhim Zahawi detaling package of cuts

Rishi Sunak last night said he would cut tax, but not until ‘inflation is gripped’ – as his Tory rivals called for the burden on businesses and families to be slashed by up to £50billion.

Speaking ahead of the formal launch of his leadership bid today, the former chancellor lashed out at rivals making ‘fairy tale’ promises.

But, in a sign he is feeling the pressure on the issue, he said it would be ‘a question of when, not if,’ the tax burden is cut if he becomes prime minister.

Leadership rivals yesterday threw down the gauntlet to Mr Sunak, with his successor as Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, outlining a package of cuts worth an estimated £50billion.

A leading ally of Liz Truss meanwhile likened Mr Sunak to an ‘accountant’ and said driving economic growth was about more than just ‘balancing the books’.

But Mr Sunak, who last night picked up the support of former chancellor Lord Lamont, said that a ‘return to traditional Conservative economic values’ required ‘honesty, not fairy tales’. 

Speaking ahead of the formal launch of his leadership bid today, the former chancellor lashed out at rivals making ‘fairy tale’ promises

Former Chancellor Mr Sunak, who is one of the leading contenders to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, pictured leaving his home on Monday

He added: ‘I have had to make some of the most difficult choices in my life when I was chancellor, in particular how to deal with our debt and borrowing after Covid.

‘I have never hidden away from those, and I certainly won’t pretend now that the choices I made, and the things I voted for, were somehow not necessary. Whilst this may be politically inconvenient, it is the truth.

‘My message to the party and the country is simple: I have a plan to steer our country through these headwinds. 

‘Once we have gripped inflation, I will get the tax burden down. It is a question of “when”, not “if”.’

In a speech to mark the launch of his own leadership campaign yesterday, Mr Zahawi savaged the record of his predecessor, saying that tax and spending had been ‘skyrocketing’ for ‘too many years’.

He set out a programme for rapid tax cuts which would see the basic rate of income tax cut by a penny next year, followed by another penny in 2024, taking it to 18 per cent.

A planned rise in corporation tax from 19p to 25p would be axed. And VAT and green levies on energy would be axed for two years to ease the cost of living. 

In his launch speech yesterday Sajid Javid pledged to bring forward the planned 1p cut in income tax to next year, as well as scrap the planned rise in corporation tax.

Mr Sunak, who last night picked up the support of former chancellor Lord Lamont, said that a ‘return to traditional Conservative economic values’ required ‘honesty, not fairy tales’

Mr Javid said he would axe the national insurance hike, despite backing it as health secretary last year. 

And he vowed to slash fuel duty by 10p a litre to ease the cost of living.

Foreign Secretary Miss Truss said she would cut taxes ‘from day one’, and has pledged to reverse the national insurance hike. 

In an apparent swipe at Mr Sunak, Kwasi Kwarteng, who is backing Miss Truss, said: ‘We can’t simply be accountants trying to balance the books the whole time.’ 

Mr Sunak is the only leading contender holding out against early tax cuts. But allies yesterday accused rivals of making promises they could not deliver.

Former Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said: ‘At this moment in time, the credibility of the Conservative Party is being tested… and announcing fantasy tax cuts to help get through a leadership election, I think, is unwise.’ 

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