Sajid Javid backs Liz Truss in another blow to Rishi Sunak’s campaign | Conservative management

Sajid Javid has backed Liz Truss in a damaging blow to Rishi Sunak’s campaign, warning that Sunak’s economic prescription would mean “sleepwalking in a high-tax, low-growth economy”.

A Tory poll also gave Truss’s campaign a 32-point lead over party members, a day after YouGov showed similar results.

Javid’s endorsement again exposed major divisions between the two campaigns on economic growth on the eve of the Bank of England’s interest rate announcement.

Javid, who worked with Sunak at Treasury and resigned the same day, bringing down Johnson, said Truss was best placed to ‘bring the party together’ and said a new approach to the economy was needed – a direct attack on Sunak.

“I fought for tough budget rules in our last manifesto,” Javid wrote in a Times article. “But the circumstances in which we find ourselves demand a new approach. Over the long term, we are more likely to be financially sustainable by improving trend growth.

“Only by returning growth to pre-financial crisis levels can we hope to sustain the high quality public services that people rightly expect.”

Sunak and Javid were once seen as close allies, but came into conflict once Javid returned to the cabinet and clashed over healthcare spending.

Experts have warned that the UK’s annual inflation could reach 15% by the start of 2023, due to sharp increases in energy prices which are driving up the cost of living. The Resolution Foundation think tank said previous forecasts were likely incorrect and price pressures would last longer and be more intense.

Javid’s article directly challenged Sunak’s claim that tax cuts would be inflationary. “Some say tax cuts can only happen once we have growth. I believe the exact opposite – tax cuts are a prerequisite for growth. Tax cuts are now essential. There are no risk-free options in government. However, in my opinion, not reducing taxes carries an even greater risk.

He said the government was “sleepwalking into a big-state, high-tax, low-growth, social-democratic style model that risks turning us into a middle-income economy by the 2030s with the loss global influence and power”.

Truss and Sunak embarked on a day of ground campaigning ahead of three major roundups and debates over the next three days. Truss’s campaign was buoyed by two polls showing an increase in support, a day after she was forced to drop a policy on regional pay commissions after an outcry from MPs.

A spokeswoman for Truss said her vision “resonated with the members” and she would continue to travel the country to meet with them saying she “really appreciates the chance to move around the country”.

Sunak’s team said he has organized more than 60 events since the start of the campaign, personally reaching out to 5,000 members. His team and MPs backing the former Chancellor said they did not believe Truss had as large a lead as polls suggest.

“The YouGov poll is absolute nonsense: they don’t have any data on our members, so they can’t weight them properly,” said an MP supporting Sunak.

However, MPs expressed long-term concern over Truss’ ability to unite the party after his embarrassing U-turn on regional public sector pay cuts.

Referring to an interview given on Wednesday by Brandon Lewis, where he was forced to defend the U-turn, the Sunak MP said it brought back bad memories.

“I’m afraid the whole episode yesterday was very continuous Johnson; and this morning Brandon was repeating all those things about “misrepresentation,” the MP said. “I got sick of being told to go out and say things that just weren’t true, or nonsense, and it pisses me off if I do that again.”

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