Tory leadership latest: Rishi Sunak can't offer tax cuts to counter lagging position in the polls, ally suggests

Rishi Sunak - PA/VICTORIA JONES  
Rishi Sunak - PA/VICTORIA JONES

Rishi Sunak cannot offer tax cuts just to boost his popularity, one of his allies suggested as the former Chancellor trails Liz Truss in the polls.

Mr Sunak would currently lose his head-to-head leadership contest with the Foreign Secretary among Conservative members by 62 per cent to 38 per cent, a YouGov survey suggested last night.

Robert Halfon, the chairman of the education select committee, insisted the former Chancellor was "not making promises he can't keep" and would cut taxes once inflation was under control.

He told Sky News: "Polls come and polls go. I believe that when he makes his case more members will come and support him. They know he’s not making promises he can’t keep and that’s the important thing.

"If he wanted to be popular he could say everything and anything about tax cuts, but we’ve got to deal with the debt."

Ms Truss, who has promised to cut taxes to the tune of around £38 billion, warned yesterday that Mr Sunak's current tax policy would lead Britain into a recession.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

09:21 AM

Tugendhat backer joins Sunak supporters

One of Tom Tugendhat's leading supporters has now declared she is backing Rishi Sunak to become the next leader.

Nickie Aiken, the MP for Cities of London and Westminster, described Mr Sunak as "hardworking, decent and competent".

"He recognises the challenges that we face as a nation and he has the ability to deal with them... and I know he will deliver for London and the rest of the UK."

09:10 AM

The Boris bus is coming

Campaigners for Tory members to be given a vote on the future of Boris Johnson as leader are planning to picket the party's hustings with a specially painted Boris "battle bus", writes Christopher Hope.

Lord Cruddas of Shoreditch, the former party treasurer, is leading a campaign for members to have a say into whether Mr Johnson should resign, along with David Campbell Bannerman, the former Tory Euro MP.

The outgoing prime minister may approve - he has previously said he makes models of buses to relax - Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The outgoing prime minister may approve - he has previously said he makes models of buses to relax - Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Lord Cruddas said one idea was for a "Boris bus" would go to the hustings to demonstrate, telling Chopper's Politics podcast: "That's a possibility. People are angry, they want to protest and members want to protest."

Full story: Hear what we say now, Boris backers urge CCHQ

09:04 AM

'We cannot sacrifice integrity for soundbites'

The televised Conservative leadership debates last Friday and Sunday did not take long to descend into squabbling, mud-slinging and biting attacks on other contenders' records.

It was no surprise a further debate scheduled for Tuesday did not take place and now Brandon Lewis, the former Tory Party chair, says the debates were a "gift to the opposition".

"Right on cue, earlier this week, Labour released a video of the televised leadership debates that have taken place so far," he wrote on the Conservative Home website. "It was painfully predictable: a head-to-head with the then five leadership contenders all necessarily competing for the most airtime and the most dramatic punchline.

"Selective clips have since been stitched together into a mocking video on our record in government. No doubt it will be ruthlessly and relentlessly broadcast in target seats and marginal constituencies across the country... We cannot become short-sighted, sacrificing the integrity of the oldest political party in the world for the sake of a few soundbites."

08:54 AM

Sunak and Truss will be judged on character

Neither Sunak nor Truss are likely to talk about cuts they’d make, but both may decide to let inflation do the work. Keeping departmental budgets as they are will now mean a real-terms cut – and quite a hefty one at that, writes Fraser Nelson.

Doctors have been offered a 4.5 per cent pay rise, for example, but with no extra health budget the money will be found by cutting services: in this case, diagnostic technology intended to cut cancer waiting lists. A painful choice, but typical of the pain lying ahead.

And what’s the alternative? This is what could – or should – set the candidates apart. Who can propose the best health reform? Or think of novel ways to protect classrooms? Sunak is known to be concerned about the lack of school reform: might he have his own ideas? Or might Ms Truss, a former education minister, apply her experience?

This is, fundamentally, what the race is about. It won’t be decided by a staged row about deficit-funded stimulus, or a “what would Maggie think” quest for historical benediction. It’s about who can respond best to unforeseen challenges.

Fraser Nelson: The key questions that need answering now

08:48 AM

20,000 have joined Sunak campaign

More than 20,000 people have now joined Rishi Sunak's campaign, his team confirmed this morning.

"A massive thank you... now, we can only do this if we do it together," the former Chancellor said in a video message posted to his Twitter account.

"So if you know of anybody who else wants to come and join the team, please tell them to head to Ready4Rishi.com and come and be a part of something special. See you soon."

08:42 AM

Kemi Badenoch: I've worked hard enough for role in next Government

Kemi Badenoch, the junior former minister who electrified the Tory leadership contest, has said she feels she has "worked hard enough" to be given a job when the next prime minister forms a new government.

Speaking to The Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics podcast, Mrs Badenoch revealed that she only decided to stand the day after Boris Johnson had said he would resign – and her children found out from the TV news.

Kemi Badenoch - Eddie Mulholland
Kemi Badenoch - Eddie Mulholland

The Brexiteer was widely praised for her fresh approach to campaigning in the leadership contest, with clear Right-wing policies that won support among the grassroots in polling.

She got to the final four candidates and was knocked out of the race on Tuesday after winning the backing of 59 MPs – nearly one in six of the parliamentary party including Michael Gove, the former Cabinet minister.

08:35 AM

'Money doesn't grow on trees'

Robert Halfon, the chairman of the education select committee and the Tory MP for Harlow, defended Rishi Sunak's record as he can be "trusted in a crisis".

Current polling shows Mr Sunak would command just 38 per cent of the vote in this summer's run-off against Liz Truss.

Rishi Sunak would only cut taxes after inflation had been brought under control - Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Rishi Sunak would only cut taxes after inflation had been brought under control - Victoria Jones/PA Wire

But Mr Halfon insisted: "Polls come and polls go.

"I believe that when he makes his case more members will come and support him. They know he’s not making promises he can’t keep and that’s the important thing... Money doesn’t grow on trees and the Chancellor has to be responsible."

08:34 AM

Liz Truss ally: Britain may be 'closed for business' under Sunak

An ally of Liz Truss warned Britain could be "closed for business" if Rishi Sunak were to proceed with the planned corporation tax rise.

The levy is expected to rise from 19 per cent to 25 per cent next year, and the former Chancellor last month resisted pressure from Boris Johnson to cut it.

Graham Stuart, the Europe minister, insisted the next prime minister must be "unapologetically" pro-business, and warned: "If we stick corporation tax up from 19 per cent to 25 per cent, it's like putting a 'closed for business' sign up."

Britain has "got to use its independence" from Brussels to ensure it is a more attractive place to live, Mr Stuart insisted during an interview with TalkTV.

08:27 AM

Good morning

Dominic Penna here, the Telegraph's political reporter guiding you through the end of what has been a highly dramatic week in Westminster.

With Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss now confirmed as the final two Conservative leadership candidates, both are insisting only they can beat Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party at the next election while making very different offers on the economy.

I will take you through all of today's political news and the latest developments.