Liz Truss has been accused of making a second major U-turn in a week, after her campaign tried to play down suggestions there were no ‘documents’ to help millions of struggling people through a cost of living crisis which is already worsening this winter.
Having been forced to abandon plans to cut public sector wages for roles outside London and the South East, a senior Truss supporter was dispatched over the weekend to temper comments she had made on emergency support payments in view of rising energy costs.
The row concerned an interview Truss gave to the Financial Times on Friday, in which she said she would “look at what more can be done” in light of the Bank of England’s warnings of a 15-month recession and double digit growth. inflation will continue until 2023.
However, she added: ‘The way I would do things is in a conservative way to reduce the tax burden, not hand out handouts.
Penny Mordaunt, who was narrowly beaten by Truss in the penultimate stage of the Tory leadership race and now backs the Foreign Secretary, said she was misinterpreted.
“It’s not that she rules out any future help,” the trade minister told Sky News. “What she is looking for, however, is to allow people to keep more of the money they earn.
“It makes no sense to take money away from people and then give it back in a very, very complicated way. We need to simplify this and we need to make sure that households are as resilient as possible and stop taking big taxes on people is one way to do this.
But a source within Sunak’s team said Truss was “cutting and pasting his own U-turns” announcing something “in black and white”, before claiming it had been misunderstood, then bringing his allies to “poop the next day”.
“Stop blaming reporters (again) – reporting what you say is not ‘misinterpreted,'” tweeted Mark Harper, a former chief whip. “2nd time in just 5 days. This kind of thing happened under the current Prime Minister and the trust in us was extremely damaged.
Truss was urged by a spokesperson for Sunak to “explain to the millions worried about rising bills in the fall whether she stands by the statement she made on Friday ruling out further child support or whether she now has changed her mind and is ready to consider them”.
The looming economic crisis “requires big and bold action”, said Oliver Dowden, the former co-chairman of the Conservative Party, which supports Sunak.
He insisted the former Chancellor would be ‘ready to take further action if necessary’ and added: ‘We need to be realistic as a nation about the scale of the challenges we face and the leadership which is required to overcome them.”
Dowden said Truss’ tax cuts were ‘not commensurate with the scale of the challenge we face’, and claimed scrapping the National Insurance increase would give a worker on time full National Living Wage just £59, while someone on a six-figure salary would get over £1,000.
Another Sunak supporter, Tory MP Angela Richardson, said Truss had effectively “ruled out direct support payments this winter for those affected by the cost of living crisis” and that “her plans will not help those who need it most such as retirees and low-paid workers.