Rishi Sunak is labelled daft as he calls Liz Truss' tax cuts 'immoral'

Rishi Sunak is labelled daft as he calls Liz Truss’ tax cuts ‘immoral’ as he railed against the ‘forces that be’ who are trying to install her in No 10.

  • Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak denounced Liz Truss’ proposed tax cuts
  • He called the Foreign Secretary’s tax plan to reverse his rises ‘immoral’
  • Chief Secretary to the Treasury called Mr Sunak’s attack ‘Project Fear’

Rishi Sunak denounced Liz Truss’s tax cuts as ‘immoral’ today and railed against the ‘forces that be’ who are trying to install her in No 10.

In a speech in Margaret Thatcher’s hometown of Grantham, the former chancellor criticised the Foreign Secretary’s plans to reverse his tax rises.

But allies of Ms Truss said it was ‘daft’ of him to argue there was no headroom for tax cuts.

‘Rishi has got himself in a faintly ridiculous position on tax cuts,’ a source said. ‘The headroom is clearly there and it’s a bit daft arguing modest tax cuts are inflationary in the circumstances. Now everyone is out arguing the circumstances in which they are not inflationary.’

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Clarke, who is backing Ms Truss in the battle to replace Boris Johnson, dismissed Mr Sunak’s attack on her tax policy as ‘Project Fear’, a reference to scaremongering by Remain campaigners during the Brexit referendum.

Rishi Sunak denounced Liz Truss’s tax cuts as ‘immoral’ but was called a scaremonger by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Pictured, Mr Sunak with his wife Akshata Murthy and their daughters Anoushka and Krishna today

Simon Clarke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, dismissed Mr Sunak’s attack on her tax policy as ‘Project Fear’

‘There is a lot of Project Fear-style material on Twitter today,’ he said. ‘The idea that there isn’t scope for reducing the burden of tax through both a new spending review and by putting our Covid debt on a longer-term footing as it rolls over is transparently false.

‘The true risk to our economy is stagnation (and indeed, stagflation). We cannot tax our way to prosperity and without greater willingness to support lower taxes and supply-side reform we won’t achieve the growth rates we need to increase the size of the cake.

‘Let us explode once and for all the myth that the only responsible thing to do is to keep spending and that cutting taxes is somehow anti-Conservative.’

Launching his campaign to win over Tory members yesterday, Mr Sunak attacked Ms Truss’s pledge to reverse his increases in national insurance contributions and corporation tax.

Liz Truss has said she will introduce swift tax cuts if she wins the Tory leadership race

Asked if he believed she was misleading party members about cutting taxes, he said: ‘Not only do I think it’s the wrong thing for the economy, I do also believe it’s immoral because there is nothing noble or good about racking up bills on the country’s credit card that we pass on to our children and grandchildren. We have to tell the truth about the cost of living. Rising inflation is the enemy that makes everyone poorer. And we have to tell the truth about tax. I will not put money back in your pocket knowing that rising inflation will only whip it straight back out.’

Ms Truss has said her promises of tax cuts – which could cost £30 billion – are affordable because they would spur growth. Mr Sunak has vowed to cut taxes only when inflation is under control.

Speaking from the Lincolnshire birthplace of Mrs Thatcher, he described his economic approach as ‘common-sense Thatcherism’. Describing himself as an ‘underdog’ and refusing to mention Ms Truss by name, he said: ‘The forces that be want this to be a coronation for the other candidate. But I think members want a choice and they are prepared to listen.’

Mr Sunak triumphed in the Tory MPs’ ballots at Westminster but is behind Ms Truss in polls of the 160,000 party members who will choose Mr Johnson’s successor.

During his speech, he also made a pointed reference to the fact that he had voted for Brexit, while Ms Truss had backed Remain, although she is now an ardent Brexiteer.

Golden boy’s high-flying siblings

By Georgia Edkins, Whitehall correspondent

Touted as a future prime minister by his teachers at the age of nine, Rishi Sunak grew up as the family golden boy, overshadowing his younger brother and sister who strived to match his youthful success.

He would go on to become head boy at his £45,000 a year boarding school, Winchester College, before gaining a place at Oxford University’s Lincoln College to read philosophy, politics and economics.

His younger brother Sanjay is remembered by friends as less chatty but, although two years younger, followed a similar trajectory in his early years of education.


STRIVERS: Rishi Sunak is close to sister Raakhi Williams, above left, and brother Sanjay, right

GP father Yashvir and pharmacist mother Usha, who lived in a six-bedroom house in Southampton, paid for Sanjay to go to the same private primary as Rishi, Stroud School.

Sanjay followed in his parents’ footsteps to work in medicine, specialising in psychology, he enrolled as an undergraduate at University College London in 1999 before moving on to postgraduate studies at Birkbeck, University of London, specialising in criminology. At King’s College London he studied forensic mental health before doctorate studies at the University of Surrey in clinical psychology. While studying and teaching there he also began working for the NHS.

Now 40, he is likely to earn a six-figure salary as a consultant clinical psychologist working for a private clinic and Bupa, the private health insurer.

Meanwhile, Rishi’s sister Raakhi, 37, works in New York as chief of strategy and planning at the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies.

As an undergraduate, she founded Oxford’s Unicef society, growing its membership to around 400. Now known as Raakhi Williams after marrying international aid specialist Peter Williams, she helped to organise last year’s COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow for the Government before moving to America to work for the UN.

The three siblings are still close, with Rishi taking time off from political campaigning in 2015 to speak at Raakhi’s wedding.

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