Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss rule out emergency Budget before new PM chosen

Boris Johnson and both Conservative leadership candidates have ruled out an emergency cost of living Budget until the next prime minister is chosen, amid calls led by Gordon Brown for immediate action.

Figures close to Mr Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak indicated on Monday that they would not meet to discuss any announcements before the new prime minister is unveiled on Sept 5.

Sources close to both campaigns insisted they were working out the details of what they would do in office, while Number 10 denied that Nadhim Zahawi, the Chancellor, was working on prospective measures for Mr Johnson’s successor.

It means Britons will have to wait until Sept 6 at the earliest for any changes amid the escalating cost of living crisis, with inflation at a 40-year high and energy bills continuing to rise.

No 10 instead pointed to the £37 billion of financial support already announced during Mr Johnson’s premiership. It stated much of this will take effect towards the winter, when costs are expected to rise further.

A source close to Ms Truss’s campaign stressed the Foreign Secretary would stick to her plan of holding an emergency Budget upon entering No 10, rather than discussing any measures with Mr Johnson beforehand.

Ms Truss last weekend promised to use an emergency Budget to “hit the ground running” and “pave the way to economic growth” by delivering immediate tax cuts if elected.

A source on Mr Sunak’s campaign said: “Rishi has put in place a significant package of support, and will act on his first day in office to provide more help once we know more about how much further bills will rise.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters that support for Britons to meet spiraling energy and fuel costs was already “phased in” ahead of further price rises this winter.

“It will be for a future prime minister to decide what fiscal interventions or whether fiscal interventions are necessary,” he said.

“But I would simply note that both candidates have talked about making further support available.

“You’ll understand that by convention, it’s not for this Prime Minister to make major fiscal interventions during this period. It would be for a future prime minister.”

Current measures include increasing the National Insurance threshold and the first round of cost of living payments, with a second instalment to follow in October that will save Britons up to £400 on their energy bills.

The Warm Home Discount, winter fuel payments and £300 for pensioners to help with energy costs will all be introduced after the scheduled rise in the energy price cap in October.

The comments from Downing Street came after Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, renewed calls for an emergency Budget, as well as urging ministers to organise daily meetings of the Cobra committee.

Mr Brown, writing in the Mirror newspaper, urged Mr Johnson to act on “a moral issue” and “our responsibilities to each other”.

“It’s about our obligations beyond the front door and the garden gate – and we cannot walk by on the other side when people are facing an unbearable burden of what are going to become unpayable bills in October,” he said.

“Unless we take action before Oct 1 then people will be afraid – they are dreading Oct 1 – to turn up their heating because they can’t afford to put money into the meter that many poor families have got to use.”

Martin Lewis, the consumer champion and founder of the website, insisted intervention was “needed now” in the face of the “frankly catastrophic” impact of soaring costs for households.

“What we need is a willingness to take action and to grasp this, to make sure there are millions of people in this country who don’t face the choice between starvation and freezing this winter,” he told ITV News.


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