Andrew Neil interview: Rishi Sunak faces grilling on Channel 4 - live updates

Rishi Sunak, candidate to become Britain's next prime minister and Conservative party leader, attends a campaign event in Tunbridge Wells - Getty
Rishi Sunak, candidate to become Britain's next prime minister and Conservative party leader, attends a campaign event in Tunbridge Wells - Getty

Rishi Sunak is facing a half-hour grilling from Andrew Neil, the veteran political interviewer and Channel 4 News presenter, from 7.30pm.

Liz Truss, his leadership rival, will not take part and said she will be celebrating her wedding anniversary.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

07:41 PM

Sunak defends 'progressive' National Insurance hike

Andrew Neil is now grilling the former chancellor on his decision to increase National Insurance Contributions earlier this year to fund a £12bn Health and Social Care Levy.

Among Tory members, this is one of the greatest challenges for Mr Sunak, who stands accused of un-Conservative tax rises.

"Freezing a way to do that without affecting people's cash, their take home pay, and it's an entirely progressive measure," he says.

"All the independent experts and commentators described it as progressive because those with the broader shoulders contribute more."

07:38 PM

Is the UK tightening the economic belt too fast?

Rishi Sunak is displaying an impressive grasp of economic detail here as he and Andrew Neil clash on the comparative growth figures of the UK, USA and Japan.

Mr Neil points out that debt as a percentage of GDP is much higher in many other developed countries than the UK, and asks why Mr Sunak is in "such a rush".

Mr Sunak warns that "mortgage rates in the US are already 50 per cent higher than they are here".

"The US also benefits as being the world's reserve currency," he says.

"You mentioned Japan. Japan funds the majority of its debt internally from its own savers. That's not what we do here in the UK. We have to attract money from around the world."

07:35 PM

Sunak doubles down on the economy as he rejects tax cuts

Pushed again by Mr Neil on his decision to raise taxes with the rising risk of a recession, Mr Sunak says it is "absolutely the right thing to do to not put fuel on the fire of the inflation problem that we already have".

This brings us to one of the core differences between Mr Sunak and Liz Truss: whether to tighten the belt as a recession approaches or to give back voters more money in tax cuts.

"I genuinely believe it would not be the responsible thing to do that," Mr Sunak says.

07:33 PM

Here we go!

Rishi Sunak is dressed in a dark suit and navy blue tie on the set of Andrew Neil's show.

Mr Neil begins by asking about his "judgement...or lack of".

"Why did you persist with multibillion pound tax raises this year, when it was already clear the UK economy was having for a major slowdown," he asks.

Mr Sunak, sounding less fired up than his interviewer, launches into his stock answer about sound money.

"How do we tackle the problems that we racked up during Covid?" he says.

"All the extra borrowing that we had to do to make sure that we got the country through it - we all knew that it'd be a bill to pay.

"So the question that confronted me and confronts all of us is: what do we do about that?

"Do we pay those bills ourselves? Or do we pass them on to our children or our grandchildren and expect them to pick up the tab?"

07:24 PM

While we're waiting...

As we get ready for Rishi Sunak's interview on the Andrew Neil Show, have a read of this by our Deputy Political Editor, Daniel Martin.

He exclusively revealed in this morning's paper that civil servants are being taught that Britain is a “racist” country and that white officials should never contradict people from ethnic minorities.

A training video for civil servants at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which is in charge of race relations, said white civil servants should be aware of their “privilege”.

Read more here.

07:15 PM

The most feared interviewer on television?

A former Sunday Times editor, BBC political supremo and GB News chairman and presenter, Andrew Neil has become renowned for his straight-talking approach and rigorous scrutiny of all those he interviews.

Described as an "old bulldog" with good reason when he returned to our screens on Channel 4 at the start of this year, Mr Neil, 73, is known for his ding-dong interviews and will be keen to hold a microscope up to Rishi Sunak's policy package tonight.

If he proves as eviscerating as in the past, Liz Truss may thank her lucky stars she passed on the opportunity. After all, it did Boris Johnson no damage when he avoided the forensic glare of Mr Neil at the last general election.

But if Mr Sunak is able to match to or even outwit Mr Neil, it could prove a much-needed boost to his campaign.

07:07 PM

Why the stakes could barely be higher for Rishi Sunak

Tonight represents a momentous gamble on the part of Rishi Sunak to cap off what even his supporters would admit has been a difficult week for the former chancellor.

He was accused of a "screeching u-turn" as he pledged to temporarily cut VAT on energy bills, after his repeated criticism of Liz Truss's own tax-cutting pledges, and fell further behind the Foreign Secretary in polling among members. New BMG Research data tonight shows he has also lost his lead among the public.

This is why the stakes could barely be higher for Mr Sunak as he faces one of Britain's most esteemed and feared political interviewers. Any major gaffes or slip-ups on the detail could see the prospect of No 10 slip further away still.

But if he manages to hold his own and convince members who are yet to make up their mind, while landing blows on Ms Truss's offering, he could suddenly find himself back in contention. Tonight and next Thursday's Sky News debate will prove two pivotal moments in the trajectory of this contest.

06:56 PM

Rishi Sunak faces Andrew Neil: What can we expect?

Just over half an hour to go now until one of the most anticipated interviews of the current Conservative leadership campaign, as Rishi Sunak sits down with Andrew Neil for what promises to be 30 enlightening minutes.

Rishi Sunak Tory leadership hustings - Peter Nicholls/AFP
Rishi Sunak Tory leadership hustings - Peter Nicholls/AFP

It will be a special edition of Mr Neil's Channel 4 programme The Andrew Neil Show, devoted entirely to Mr Sunak's attempt to become Conservative leader and Britain's next prime minister.

There will be no commercial break during the show, which is to be broadcast live.

06:46 PM

Suella Braverman bans lawyers from telling ministers their policies are unlawful

The Attorney General has banned government lawyers from telling ministers that their policies are unlawful, The Telegraph can reveal.

In the wake of the row over the Rwanda asylum plan, guidance was sent from Suella Braverman to lawyers last week stating that they should refrain from dismissing policies as unlawful and instead give a percentage chance that they may be challenged.

It is the culmination of more than a year of growing tensions, with policy advisors viewing lawyers as overly cautious.

They perceive them to be getting in the way of the Government’s policy agenda instead of thinking creatively to push through ideas.

Gurpreet Narwan and Charles Hymas have this exclusive story

06:30 PM

Liz Truss accuses Rishi Sunak of 'scaremongering' over interest rates

Liz Truss suggested Rishi Sunak was 'scaremongering' in his warnings over interest rates, after the former chancellor suggested his rival's tax plans could drive them up to seven per cent.

Asked by the ConservativeHome website about his comments and whether such a move may trigger a housing crash, Ms Truss replied: "Frankly, this is just scaremongering.

Liz Truss  - Joe Giddens/Pool/Getty Images
Liz Truss - Joe Giddens/Pool/Getty Images

"Inflation is predicted to come down next year. And the Bank of England is independent, it makes decisions about interest rates completely independently of the government."

Ms Truss insisted she wanted to "review the mandate" of the Bank but denied it would "impair their independence" over major decisions.

06:18 PM

Liz Truss: 'I don't believe in regrets'

Liz Truss insisted "I don't know anything about this tweet" after a campaign source told a Times journalist Rishi Sunak was "not fit or office" and attacked his "mansplaining and shouty private school behaviour" earlier in the week.

Speaking to the ConesrvativeHome website, Ms Truss insisted Mr Sunak was a "very effective minister... I would be pleased to have Rishi as part of my team, depending on how things work out, and I'm not in any way complacent".

"I don’t know anything about this tweet. I have to say that since this election campaign has started I’ve taken Twitter off my phone, and I’m living in bliss, just focussed on Conservative Party members, travelling round the country talking to members, and my positive message which is about turbo-charging our economy."

Asked if she regretted the blue-on-blue sparring of the televised debates of the last two weeks, Ms Truss responded: "I don't believe in regrets."

05:58 PM

NHS faces crackdown on giving puberty blockers to children

The NHS could be banned from giving puberty blockers to children amid concerns that youngsters are being "rushed" into changing their gender, Daniel Martin and Hayley Dixon report.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak pledged to consider restricting the use of puberty blockers on Thursday night over concerns that "life-altering treatments" are being given to children before they are old enough to know whether they want to medically transition.

The Tory leadership contenders told The Telegraph they would act following the announcement that the NHS was shutting down the Tavistock transgender clinic after the Cass Review found it was "not safe" for children.

NHS England will instead move young people into regional centres that will take a more "holistic" approach to treatment and look at whether other mental health conditions could explain their gender dysphoria.

How drugs at centre of trans row could be restricted

05:38 PM

Miriam Cates: The rise and fall of Stonewall

Not too long ago, Stonewall was riding high, writes Conservative MP Miriam Cates. This household-name charity enjoyed widespread public approval following its leadership of a hugely successful civil rights movement, culminating in the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2014.

Stonewall's well-deserved reputation opened the door to consultancy contracts with multinational organisations, government departments and even schools. The charity's financial position was looking pretty healthy too, with an income of £11.5million in 2021.  But over the last year, the Stonewall star has begun to fade.

An employment tribunal this week decided in favour of barrister Allison Bailey, whose chambers were found to have victimised her by upholding a Stonewall complaint against her - Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
An employment tribunal this week decided in favour of barrister Allison Bailey, whose chambers were found to have victimised her by upholding a Stonewall complaint against her - Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Government departments and even the BBC have pulled out of contracts. The intolerant orthodoxy and oppressive practices of the trans activism espoused by Stonewall – an activism that aggressively preaches "transwomen are women" - have increasingly been questioned by high-profile feminists, politicians and journalists.

Miriam Cates: How Stonewall's decline became rapid and terminal

05:23 PM

Penny Mordaunt welcomes infected blood scandal compensation

Ms Mordaunt, the former Tory leadership contender, has said:

The evidence given to both enquiries was heartbreaking. Layer on layer of injustice, which must be addressed.

Thanks to Sir Robert, Sir Brian and all witnesses.

05:12 PM

Breaking: Infected blood scandal victims 'should be paid at least £100,000 each'

At least £100,000 should be paid to all infected blood victims and bereaved partners across the UK, the chairman of the inquiry into the issue has said.

The compensation should be paid "without delay" to those affected, Sir Brian Langstaff has written in an interim report.

Read the full story here

04:55 PM

Truss and Sunak tell rural Tory voters they will ‘champion’ their way of life

Liz Truss vowed to put planning back into the hands of local people as she made her pitch to rural Conservative voters.

Writing in the magazine of the Countryside Alliance, the Foreign Secretary pledged to scrap Whitehall planning targets which threaten rural areas across the country.

And in a bid to improve Britain’s food security, she said she would be removing red tape in the inspection regime for food producers.

Rishi Sunak, writing for the same magazine, said his "mission has always been to do things 'for' rural communities, not 'to' them."

Daniel Martin, our Deputy Political Editor, has the story

04:35 PM

Sunak ally: 'Responsible' candidate will fight for 'every single vote'

One of Rishi Sunak's allies and former Treasury colleagues has insisted the former Chancellor may down in the polling but is not out of the contest.

Echoing comments made by Mr Sunak at last night's hustings, John Glen, the former economic secretary to the Treasury, wrote on Twitter: "There are five weeks of the campaign ahead of us.

"Rishi Sunak will fight for every single vote, and make the case for a return to responsive and responsible government."

04:21 PM

If Liz Truss really wants to save the NHS, she should let Rishi Sunak run it

We are presiding over a failing NHS, no question about it, writes Fraser Nelson. If things carry on like this, people will have every right to ask: what on earth are we spending £150 billion on? And yes, people keep being really nice about the NHS, which is great. On the one hand. But on the other: it is sinking.

Not my words but those of Professor Joe Harrison, a veteran NHS acute hospital chief executive speaking at a conference a few days ago. Such language is becoming alarmingly common.

Mark Doherty, who runs the West Midlands Ambulance Service, warned back in May that the NHS is heading for a "Titanic moment" and even offered a date: August 17. He may not be precisely right, but if the NHS does sink then one thing is for sure – the Conservative government will go down with it.

There is an ever-growing risk, and one not much discussed in the leadership contest so far, that such a moment could arrive this winter. Liz Truss, the favourite, talks about Russia, China, the economy and crime – but it is the state of the NHS that is the biggest threat.

Fraser Nelson: Why the next Health Secretary is a make-or-break decision

04:09 PM

Good afternoon

Dominic Penna here, the Telegraph's Political Reporter taking you through the next few hours before my colleague Tony Diver, our Whitehall Correspondent, taps in for live coverage of Rishi Sunak's interview with Andrew Neil (7.30pm).

Liz Truss's team last week suggested she would not take part in the one-to-one sit down grilling, and that does not seem to have changed.

Mr Neil, a former BBC News and GB News anchor who now appears on Channel 4, last night wrote a tweet claiming Ms Truss was "frit" but has since deleted it.

Earlier in the week, he wrote: "Our invitation to Liz Truss still stands. Surely those who would be our next PM can’t object to rigorous scrutiny. We offer a straight one on one to Sunak and Truss. No bells and whistles. Just one on one for 30 minutes. Like grown ups."

03:19 PM

Pictured: Rishi Sunak campaigns in Tunbridge Wells

Rishi Sunak, the Tory leadership contender, is pictured attending a campaign event in Tunbridge Wells today - Getty Images Europe
Rishi Sunak, the Tory leadership contender, is pictured attending a campaign event in Tunbridge Wells today - Getty Images Europe

02:55 PM

'Our number one priority should be avoiding recession'

The UK's number one priority should be "avoiding recession", Liz Truss has said as she defended her pledges to slash taxes and insisted they would not fuel rising inflation.

She told reporters in Norfolk during a campaign visit: “The tax cuts I’m proposing are all about increasing the supply in the economy.

“And we know that the inflation has resulted because of a shock to supply. Inflation is forecast to come down next year. That’s what the Bank of England’s predicted. But they’ve also predicted a recession. So our number one priority should be avoiding recession, increasing economic growth. And you cannot tax your way to growth."

Asked if her approach is "risky", the Foreign Secretary said: "What is risky is carrying on on the same economic path which is currently forecast to lead us to recession. That is the risk."

02:41 PM

Liz Truss signals she will not watch Rishi Sunak interview

Rishi Sunak will be interviewed by Andrew Neil on Channel 4 this evening at 7.30pm. Liz Truss was invited to be interviewed but she declined.

She has now signalled she will not be watching Mr Sunak's appearance.

Asked if she will be watching, the Foreign Secretary told reporters during a campaign visit to Norfolk: “It’s my wedding anniversary today. So I’ll be celebrating 22 years of being married to my husband.

“And every day I’m out and about doing interviews with great interviewers like you.”

02:34 PM

Liz Truss insists she can deliver on campaign pledges

Liz Truss has said she is committed to “challenging the current orthodoxy around investment spending” after she was asked if she can actually deliver on all of the pledges she has made.

Speaking during a campaign visit to Norfolk, Ms Truss said: “We can deliver. I will reverse the National Insurance increase. We didn’t need to do it. And we can afford that within our budget. I also think that by keeping taxes low, we will attract more business and investment into counties like Norfolk, which will help grow the economy and bring those tax revenues in.”

She went on: “And I’m also committed to challenging the current orthodoxy around investment spending. We need more of it going into rural areas. More of it going into left behind areas, more of it going into parts of Britain that don’t have a good infrastructure yet, and that’s what I’m committed to do.”

02:30 PM

'I’m not at all complacent'

Liz Truss said she is “not at all complacent” about her prospects in the Tory leadership contest.

Asked if she is confident she is now set to win the race, having secured Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s support, she told reporters in Norfolk: “I’m not at all complacent. I’m fighting for every vote across the country.”

Liz Truss is pictured today campaigning in Dereham, Norfolk  - Joe Giddens/PA
Liz Truss is pictured today campaigning in Dereham, Norfolk - Joe Giddens/PA

The Foreign Secretary added: “I’m the person who can get our economy growing, reduce taxes, but also unleash all of the opportunities of Brexit, and that’s what I’m determined to do.

“I’m delighted to have the support of Ben Wallace. We’ve worked very closely together. He’s been a fantastic Defence Secretary for our country.”

02:16 PM

Liz Truss signals she would drop Tory housing target

The Conservative Party pledged in its 2019 general election manifesto to continue to "progress towards our target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s".

Liz Truss has signalled she would ditch the target if she comes PM.

She told the Conservative Home website that "top-down Whitehall-set housing targets do not work" because they "create huge fear across the country, and they haven’t actually delivered the housing that we need".

The Foreign Secretary said there needed to be "different approaches in different parts of the country". She also labelled the current planning system as "antediluvian".

02:13 PM

UK economy should be growing by '2.5 per cent a year'

Liz Truss has suggested her annual economic growth target for the UK economy would be 2.5 per cent if she becomes PM.

She told Conservative Home that if she wins the Tory leadership contest she will "lay out a ten-year plan for public service reform, and a ten-year plan to change Britain’s economic growth rate".

She said: "We should be growing on average at 2.5 per cent. And happiness is a faster-growing private sector than public sector. That’s what we need to achieve."

01:57 PM

'I don’t believe in regrets'

Liz Truss was asked during an interview with the Conservative Home website if she regretted taking part in Tory leadership debates given there has been a considerable amount of "blue on blue" attacks.

She replied: “I don’t believe in regrets.”

It was suggested to Ms Truss that she appeared to be channeling the advice of her favourite singer, Taylor Swift, by seeking to "shake it off".

The Foreign Secretary said: "Well absolutely, Taylor had it right."

01:49 PM

'I would be very pleased to have Rishi as part of my team'

A spokesman for Liz Truss claimed after the first head-to-head Tory leadership debate between the Foreign Secretary and Rishi Sunak on Monday night that the former chancellor had "proven he is not fit for office".

Ms Truss has conducted an interview with the Conservative Home website and she was asked if she personally believed that Mr Sunak is "fit for office".

The Foreign Secretary said: "“Rishi is someone who, you know, is a very effective minister. I would be very pleased to have Rishi as part of my team, depending on how things work out, and I’m not in any way complacent."

01:40 PM

PM's former aide felt like his 'nanny'

A former senior aide to Boris Johnson has said she felt like his “nanny” as she recalled how she scheduled his naps and soothed his “temper tantrums”.

Cleo Watson, brought into No 10 as an ally of Dominic Cummings, described how Mr Johnson needed “house-training” to take precautionary measures to protect others when pinged during the pandemic, how he made jokes such as “kung-flu”, and that he would feign bending over when she went to take his temperature.

She also said there were days when people at the heart of government “thought the virus had won, that we had acted too late and that our measures weren’t working”.

The revelations are included in an article Ms Watson has written for Tatler where she describes working as deputy chief of staff and her experience in No 10 ahead of a new Sky drama "This England" telling the story of the Government’s Covid response.

Downing Street said it did not wish to comment on Ms Watson’s account of her time there.

01:18 PM

Pictured: Priti Patel attends Festival of Inspiration at Neasden Temple

Priti Patel visits the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple to attend the Festival of Inspiration in Neasden yesterday - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street
Priti Patel visits the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple to attend the Festival of Inspiration in Neasden yesterday - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street
Priti Patel visits the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple to attend the Festival of Inspiration in Neasden yesterday - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street 
Priti Patel visits the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple to attend the Festival of Inspiration in Neasden yesterday - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street

12:30 PM

The Telegraph's weekly politics quiz

12:22 PM

Credit card borrowing surges

Households’ credit card borrowing increased in June at the fastest annual rate since 2005, while the amount of money being deposited into accounts nosedived.

Commentators said the figures, published by the Bank of England, reflect the challenges faced by households grappling with surging living costs.

Overall, consumer credit, which includes borrowing on credit cards, overdrafts, personal loans and car finance, increased by 6.5 per cent annually in June – which is the fastest rate since a 6.5 per cent increase was also recorded in May 2019.

Within this, the annual growth rate of credit card borrowing was 12.5 per cent.

12:19 PM

Eurozone inflation surges to record high

Eurozone inflation has climbed to another all-time high, piling more pressure on the ECB to follow up its first interest rate rise for a decade with another big move.

Consumer prices jumped 8.9pc from a year earlier in July – up from 8.6pc last month and driven once again by soaring energy and food costs.

After slowing in June, core inflation – which strips out volatile food and energy – also hit a record of 4pc.

Spiralling prices prompted the ECB to surprise economics with a half-point increase in interest rates this month. That was its first increase in more than a decade and the biggest for 20 years.

You can follow live updates over at The Telegraph's business blog here.

11:32 AM

'Labour could face bankruptcy' over unions row

Sir Keir Starmer has been warned that Labour could face bankruptcy as unions abandon the party after he sacked a shadow minister for appearing on a picket line.

The Labour leader is facing a backlash from union barons, who say he has severed the historical link between the party and the union movement.

Sam Tarry, a shadow transport minister, was sacked on Wednesday after joining striking workers from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) on a picket line at Euston station in central London.

You can read the full story here.

10:59 AM

Former minister: 'Rishi is going to be putting in a lot of miles'

Damian Hinds, the former security minister who is backing Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership campaign, said the former chancellor will be "putting in a lot of miles" in the coming days and weeks as he tries to defeat Liz Truss in the race for No 10.

Told that Mr Sunak appeared to be trailing Ms Truss in the race, Mr Hinds told GB News: "I find the more and more people who see, who get to hear from Rishi Sunak, the more persuaded they are.

"There is a lot of ground to cover. There is all the hustings events that you mention, there's also lots of events out anfd about in the country.

"Rishi is going to be putting in a lot of miles over these days and weeks to come."

10:44 AM

Sam Tarry 'taken by surprise' by sacking

Sam Tarry said he did not expect to be sacked from his role as shadow transport minister by Sir Keir Starmer after he conducted media interviews from a union picket line earlier this week.

Mr Tarry told Sky News: “No, I wasn’t [expecting it] to be totally honest with you. I didn’t have any intention of giving TV interviews. I went there and was asked my opinion.

“At the end of the day I thought it was about time that we were really clear about whose side we are on. I am on the side of ordinary British workers. I am on the side of people going on strike…”

10:29 AM

Sam Tarry: 'Time to fight back'

Sam Tarry, the Labour MP who was sacked from his role as shadow transport minister after joining a union picket line, has said that it is “time to fight back” and “reclaim our party”.

Mr Tarry today joined a rally for striking BT workers in central London.

Addressing the Communication Workers Union (CWU) rally as thousands of BT and Openreach workers strike in a dispute over pay, Mr Tarry said “it’s good to be back”.

He said: “We need a Labour leadership that is prepared to stand up and does not look the other way when BT workers are going to foodbanks.”

He added: “Let’s be absolutely clear – it is not good enough, it is not good enough for the Labour Party to say that we probably won’t be able to give you a pay rise in line with inflation. Because that means the Labour Party is committed to cut people’s wages in real terms and that is totally unacceptable.”

10:24 AM

Rishi Sunak 'did not support multi-year funding deal for MoD'

Rishi Sunak did not support a multi-year funding settlement for the Ministery of Defence, Ben Wallace has said.

The Defence Secretary, who is supporting Liz Truss in the Conservative Party leadership contest, was asked by LBC’s Nick Ferrari how obstructive the former chancellor was in granting more cash to the armed forces.

Mr Wallace replied: “I don’t think he was obstructive…”

When pressed further, the Defence Secretary said: “I mean, the multi-year settlement that we got was not what the Treasury had wanted. They wanted a one-year settlement. This was back in 2019, I think. And it was vital that we got a multi-year settlement. And the Prime Minister effectively asserted his authority and made sure that’s what happened.”

Mr Ferrari asked: “But Mr Sunak was not in support?”

Mr Wallace replied: “Not that I remember.”

10:22 AM

Shaow minister defends Keir Starmer over sacking of Sam Tarry

Jim McMahon, the shadow environment secretary, has defended Sir Keir Starmer over his decision to sack Sam Tarry from his role as shadow transport minister after a row about Labour frontbenchers joining union picket lines.

Mr McMachon said “collective responsibility” is “very important”.

Speaking to Sky News he said: “This is not about whether somebody was on a picket line or not, it was about, as I understand it, the broadcast round that was done without authorisation.

“All of us sign up to collective responsibility on the shadow cabinet and that is very important and when that isn’t followed the chief whip has to take action to ensure discipline can be maintained because if we can’t organise ourselves in opposition then we can’t look to the country and say that we are ready to govern and that is the critical thing.”

10:21 AM

What is Entrepreneurs' Relief and why is Rishi Sunak under fire?

Entrepreneurs' Relief is a policy which allows small business owners to save on tax when they sell their business.

At the March 2020 Budget Rishi Sunak slashed the amount of tax that can be saved by 90 per cent.

The tax break allows self starters to pay a reduced 10 per cent rate of capital gains tax on any profits they make when selling their business, instead of the typical 20 per cent.

Mr Sunak reduced the lifetime limit of the tax break so it applies to profits of £1 million, down from the previous £10 million.

The move meant that entrepreneurs could claw back just £100,000 in taxes on profits they make from setting up businesses over their lifetimes, instead of the previous £1 million saving.

You can read the original story on the decision to scale back the relief here.

09:53 AM

Ben Wallace criticises Rishi Sunak over economic approach

Ben Wallace has criticised Rishi Sunak for scaling back Entrepreneurs' Relief in the 2020 Budget as he said that was "not a way to create either wealth or indeed growth".

Mr Sunak reduced the amount of tax that small business owners can save when they sell their businesses by 90 per cent.

Mr Wallace, who is backing Liz Truss in the Tory leadership race, said: “I think people seem to think that it is very simple, you just simply raise a tax, pay off the debt and go back. That is tax and spend economics.

“The economics I am interested in is how do we stimulate growth. So cutting the right taxes, like not proceed with corporation tax rises helps us grow.

“When Rishi was chancellor he cut entrepreneurial relief. He cut the relief that we give to our entrepreneurs who have invested in this country and invested in businesses and that is not a way to create either wealth or indeed growth.”

09:37 AM

Ben Wallace backs existing windfall tax on energy firms

Ben Wallace has said he is in favour of the existing windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies. but warned against imposing additional levies.

The Defence Secretary was asked on BBC Breakfast about Liz Truss saying she would not impose further windfall taxes on oil and gas companies.

Mr Wallace said: “She is a conservative. She doesn’t believe in high taxation, none of us do. As conservatives, we believe that the more we tax you, the less freedom you have to spend your money your way.”

He added: “I was in favour of this existing windfall tax because when I looked at how these big energy companies invested, they didn’t seem to invest much in the UK. So, I thought, well, what is the point protecting them if they are making vast profits?"

09:34 AM

Pictured: Corbyn and McDonnell join picket line

Thousands of BT and Openreach workers are striking today in a dispute over pay. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said it will be the first national telecoms strike since 1987 and the biggest ever among call centre workers.

Another strike is due to be held on Monday after union members voted in favour of industrial action in protest at a £1,500 pay rise.

Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, and John McDonnell, the Labour former shadow chancellor, joined a CWU picket at BT Tower in London this morning.

John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn join a Communication Workers Union picket line at BT Tower in London - Maighna Nanu/PA
John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn join a Communication Workers Union picket line at BT Tower in London - Maighna Nanu/PA

09:20 AM

Ben Wallace hails Liz Truss defence credentials

Liz Truss is the candidate that will do best by defence of this nation, Ben Wallace has said.

The Defence Secretary and supporter of Ms Truss told BBC Breakfast: “Rishi will be a fine member of anybody’s Cabinet.

"They would be lucky to have him, but for me, Liz is the one that I think will do best by defence of this nation, by investing in it and making sure that we get to a point where we can provide that resilience that does have a knock on effect of the cost-of-living."

08:58 AM

'Sometimes you need warm words and some hard power alongside it'

Sir Stephen Lovegrove, the UK's national security adviser, warned earlier this week that the West and China could “miscalculate our way into nuclear war” as he stressed the importance of dialogue between nations (you can read the full story here).

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, was asked this morning if he agreed with Sir Stephen. He said that while dialogue is important, some countries may not be willing to listen and as a result "sometimes you need warm words and I’m afraid some hard power alongside it".

Mr Wallace said: "He is right that it is always important to talk to countries, even if you find it difficult or distasteful or indeed it is a challenge because there is a conflict in Ukraine.

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, is pictured in Westminster this morning - Tayfun Salci/Avalon
Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, is pictured in Westminster this morning - Tayfun Salci/Avalon

“But I think fundamentally that is not always the real component to why security can be imperilled, it is often the intention of the other country."

He said it is "very hard" when someone "just doesn’t want to listen to reason", leaving other countries in a "very difficult position".

Using Russia as an example, he said: “Putin’s plan A, B and C have failed and he may look to plan D. But it doesn’t matter how many times you say to them it is not the right thing to do, you can’t just get somewhere with warm words. Sometimes you need warm words and I’m afraid some hard power alongside it.”

08:47 AM

'There aren’t any magic wands'

There are no "magic wands" to fix the significant problems facing the UK and other countries around the world, Ben Wallace has said.

The Defence Secretary said: “It is not just in energy, it is going to be in food. There is global insecurity, whether that is in Ukraine, or whether that is in the Pacific.

“We are all connected today. We are all linked in this world. Covid has been a global pandemic that we are all dealing with the shock of it.

“That does mean there aren’t any magic wands, it means that we all have to invest in our resilience, we have to invest in our diversity of supply.”

08:43 AM

Ben Wallace criticises Rishi Sunak for resigning

Ben Wallace has criticised Rishi Sunak and other ministers who quit the Government as he said they should have used a vote of no confidence to get rid of Boris Johnson rather than forcing him out through resignations.

Mr Wallace said that "some ministers don’t have the luxury of resigning because fundamentally we have duties and obligations".

He said: “I also made clear and I made a tweet at the time that for those colleagues who do want to express their lack of confidence in the government there is a very simple way of doing that.

"There was going to be a 1922 vote predicted on the Monday the next week, a couple of days after Rishi resigned, and they could have done it that way.”

08:35 AM

Ben Wallace warns against 'blue on blue' attacks

Ben Wallace was asked this morning if he agreed with Nadine Dorries, another supporter of Liz Truss, who has accused Rishi Sunak of helping to lead a "coup" to oust Boris Johnson from No 10.

The Defence Secretary said he did not want to "poke sticks" at Mr Sunak and had no intention of criticising him.

He told Sky News: “I am not coming here to attack the other candidate. My view is Liz can sell herself on her qualities, I think she has many qualities… we don’t want this blue on blue, I am not sitting her poking sticks at Rishi Sunak.

“Rishi Sunak is a very clever, very capable member of the Cabinet or was a member of the Cabinet. Any government would be pleased to have him in the government but fundamentally I am here to say why I think Liz Truss is the best candidate.”

08:31 AM

'People go on journeys politically'

Ben Wallace was challenged this morning on his claim that Liz Truss is an "authentic" politician as he was told that she was once a member of the Liberal Democrats and also voted Remain but is now pro-Brexit.

Mr Wallace said that Ms Truss, in the same way as many people, had been on a political journey.

He told Sky News: “I think she has been very honest. She has been, as she has gone through life… she has developed. I think people develop through life.

“Many of the people that are your journalists or indeed your commentators, some of them even in the mainstream media some of them started life as communists and are now rabid Tories.

“I think what I would say is people go on journeys politically because of their upbringing and the influence of their parents.”

08:25 AM

Truss 'not likely to break the fiscal rules'

Liz Truss's plans for tax cuts and increases in some areas of public spending are affordable and will not result in a massive spike in government borrowing, Ben Wallace has suggested.

The Defence Secretary was told this morning that Ms Truss is likely to break the government's current fiscal rules on borrowing in order to pay for all of her pledges.

But Mr Wallace rejected the claim, telling Sky News: “No, she is not. She is not likely to break the fiscal rules. She has been very clear about that and she has already said there is headroom within that envelope.

“She has said that within three years debt will start falling as a percentage of GDP and that is the commitment she will make.

“But if we don’t grow the economy we simply won’t have the tax receipts even at the current tax levels to fund what we need.”

08:20 AM

Ben Wallace: Truss will 'do right' by MOD

Ben Wallace last night backed Liz Truss for the Tory leadership as he criticised Rishi Sunak for “walking out the door” and abandoning the economy when he quit as chancellor (you can read the full story here)

Mr Wallace said this morning that he had decided to support Ms Truss because he believes she is "going to do right" by the Ministry of Defence.

The Foreign Secretary has pledged to increase defence spending to three per cent of GDP by 2030 if she becomes PM.

Asked why he decided to back Ms Truss now, Mr Wallace said: "I thought what I would do at the beginning of this contest is stand back, I am the Secretary of State for Defence, I want to find a candidate that is going to do right by the department and recognise that the threats we face everyday are very real and are growing and that they need to be funded properly.

“We can’t just pretend they will go away by themselves. I looked at their performances, I looked at them on the hustings but I also know them both, I have been in Cabinet for two years with both the chancellor and indeed Liz Truss and so it was important for me to work out who I thought was the right person to take us forward.

“I know Liz. She is very straight, she is authentic, what you see is what you get, but also she has been very consistent in her support for defence and security. She reads the same intelligence reports I do so I felt it was the right person to back.”

08:16 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today's politics live blog.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak clashed at the first official Tory leadership hustings in Leeds last night but the big development in the contest happened elsewhere as Ben Wallace declared his support for the Foreign Secretary's campaign.

The decision by Mr Wallace to formally back Ms Truss has given her a major boost and added to the sense that the momentum in the contest is firmly with her while Rishi Sunak struggles to gain ground.

Mr Wallace is on the morning media round and I will guide you through the best of what he says.