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Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves attacks Liz Truss’s economic plan which ‘has been tested and has failed’ | Politics News

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has said the UK Government is putting the economy in danger and attacked Prime Minister Liz Truss’s plan of “trickle-down economics” after the pound sank to a record low against the dollar.

Sterling slipped to a low of $1.0327 on Monday, before stabilising at around $1.07, following lows seen after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled his £45bn tax-slashing package in the mini-budget on Friday.

She described “trickle-down economics” as an idea that “has been tried, has been tested and has failed”, during a speech at Labour’s conference in Liverpool.

Politics live: Tories ‘already putting letters in’ as MPs fear Liz Truss will ‘crash economy’

“We are facing a national emergency,” she said. “Energy prices up the cost of the weekly food shop up, people’s wages not keeping up.

“On Friday, the chancellor had an opportunity to set out a serious response to the cost of living crisis. And he failed.”

Ms Reeves added: “The message from financial markets was clear on Friday, and this morning the message is even more stark – sterling is down [and] that means higher prices.”

Ms Reeves promised a new deal for working people, with strengthened rights, saying “minimum wage will be set at a level that reflects the real cost of living”.

Among her priorities, she said she would double the number of medical school places “so our NHS has the doctors that it needs” – and also double the number of district nurses and create 10,000 more nursing and midwife places every year.

‘Those at the top will pay their fair share’

The shadow chancellor said the new vacancies – which include 5,000 new health visitors – will be funded by bringing back the 45p income tax rate cut introduced by the government last week.

She said: “I can tell you, those at the top will pay their fair share.”

Labour said the tax cut will cost £6bn between now and 2026/2027 and benefit just 600,000 of the highest earners – each of whom will receive £10,000.

The party said that by reversing the cut, they can fund “one of the biggest expansions of the NHS workforce in history”.

The shadow chancellor described the Conservative Party’s record as “12 years of failure”, adding: “It’s time for a government that is on your side, and that government is a Labour government.”

She said: “The prime minister is content to let energy giants pocket the cash and leave your children and your grandchildren to pick up the tab.

“Under these Tories, those with the broadest shoulders carry the lightest load. And not by accident, but by choice.

“It is time for a government that is on your side.”

Rishi Sunak accuses Liz Truss of trying to ‘avoid scrutiny’ over plan to hold budget without official forecast | Politics News

Liz Truss has been accused of trying to “avoid independent scrutiny” as she prepares to hold a budget next month without an official economic forecast, despite one being ready should she ask.

Having an emergency budget in September – in which she will make long-term funding pledges – has been a key part of the frontrunner’s campaign to get into Number 10.

The move has been branded “worrying” by an economist and expert in government finance, while the team behind Conservative leadership rival Rishi Sunak accused Ms Truss of wanting “to avoid independent scrutiny”.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) provides forecasts for all budgets as part of the founding law of the body, enacted in 2010.

Despite being funded by the Treasury, it is fully independent.

While the OBR is ready to provide an analysis for Ms Truss if she asks for it, the former Treasury minister – who counts the chancellor and chief secretary to the Treasury among her supporters – wants to go ahead without it.

A Truss spokesperson said: “The cost of living crisis means immediate action is required. A Truss government would seek to act as soon as possible to help people across the UK, by cutting taxes and introducing a temporary moratorium on energy levies.”

A source in the Truss campaign told Sky News that a forecast wasn’t necessary for a “targeted fiscal event”.

But more criticism came from the former head of policy for Margaret Thatcher, the Tory PM who Ms Truss has been accused of styling herself on during the campaign.

Lord Griffiths, who is now a Conservative peer, said: “The Bank of England’s devastating outlook for the economy contrasts with Liz’s optimism – for her to now prevent the OBR doing proper analysis of the facts would seem to indicate complete loss of confidence in the policy she is advocating.”

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What’s the state of the Tory leadership race?

Truss risks ‘dangerous’ borrowing levels

Ms Truss has come under criticism for a perceived lack of clarity over her money promises, with veteran former cabinet minister Michael Gove accusing her of taking a “holiday from reality”.

She wants to spend £30m on cutting taxes – like reversing the National Insurance rise and cancelling the uplift in corporation tax – using money that economists no longer think exists due to inflation.

Ms Truss has also hinted she may spend more money by providing further help to people this winter, despite previously saying she would not.

Mr Sunak said she would plunge the economy into an “inflation spiral” if she does not choose between tax cuts and providing cost of living support, as it would mean “dangerous” levels of borrowing.

“The reality is that Truss cannot deliver a support package as well as come good on £50bn worth of unfunded, permanent tax cuts in one go,” his team said.

Read more:
Truss hits back at ‘portents of doom’ over her tax plans
Inflation fuels 63% hike in UK debt costs as borrowing outstrips forecasts

Not consulting the OBR for short-term financial measures, like giving help to people over the winter, is not unreasonable, according to Thomas Pope, the deputy chief economist at the Institute for Government.

However, enacting tax cuts without a forecast – especially when one is ready – is a “worrying decision”, he said.

“It would be reasonable to make some short-term announcements to alleviate the energy bills crisis without an OBR report because the immediate support package is not so dependent on the long-term outlook,” he said.

“But there should be no rush to announce any permanent tax cuts, and any such decisions should be accompanied by the best possible information, which the OBR would provide.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, has estimated that if Ms Truss wins, Britain’s budget deficit is likely to hit about £170bn in the current financial year, about three times its size before the pandemic.

Liz Truss extends poll lead over Rishi Sunak after public sector pay plan U-turn | Politics News

Liz Truss has extended her lead over Rishi Sunak among Tory members, according to a new poll, after the foreign secretary U-turned on a plan to link public sector pay to regional living costs.

On Monday night, the leadership race frontrunner said she would save £8.8bn by introducing regional pay boards instead of national ones to set salaries for civil servants, reflecting where they lived.

But experts warned that to reach the sum, the plan would have to branch out further than government departments, with the likes of teachers, nurses, and police officers also receiving lower pay than workers in the South.

It led to outrage from Conservative MPs, and by lunchtime today – less than 24 hours later – Ms Truss’ team had released a statement saying the policy would not be taken forward.

Politics Hub: Sunak allies attack Truss public sector pay plan

A statement insisted “current levels of public sector pay will absolutely be maintained”, adding: “Our hard-working frontline staff are the bedrock of society and there will be no proposal taken forward on regional pay boards for civil servants or public sector workers.”

Team Truss also claimed there had been a “wilful misrepresentation” of the policy, but former Tory whip Mark Harper said they should “stop blaming journalists” for reporting on the details in her own press release.

A Team Sunak source pointed to comparisons made between Ms Truss and former PM Margaret Thatcher, twisting her famous phrase for today’s events: “The lady is for turning.”

While the influential Tory mayor of the Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, told reporters the policy would be “a sure-fire way to lose the next general election”.

The first major error from Ms Truss’s campaign came as Mr Sunak battles to make up ground during what is a key week in the contest for the keys to No 10.

But the day ended on a high for Ms Truss following the publication of the latest YouGov poll of Conservative members, which shows she has extended her lead over Mr Sunak to 34 points in the Tory leadership race.

The survey, carried out for The Times, finds that 60% of party members are now saying they will vote for the foreign secretary to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister.

This is compared to just 26% for former chancellor Mr Sunak.

Analysis: Sunak supporters will fear the game is up

Jon Craig - Chief political correspondent

Jon Craig

Chief political correspondent

@joncraig

After a day in which Liz Truss’ Tory leadership campaign took a battering over her regional pay blunder, suddenly it’s Rishi Sunak who’s on the ropes, according to a shock new poll.

What’s surprising is not just the massive lead the YouGov poll suggests Ms Truss now has over Mr Sunak, but the claim that almost nine in 10 Tory members have already made up their mind.

At 26%, the level of support for the former chancellor is dismal, and the 60% predicted to back the foreign secretary will calm nerves in her camp after her embarrassing public sector pay U-turn.

Although it’s only one poll and opinion polls are just a snapshot, YouGov’s findings suggest Ms Truss could be heading for a victory as decisive as Boris Johnson’s over Jeremy Hunt in 2019.

Then Mr Johnson polled 66.4% of the votes of party members and Mr Hunt 33.6%, a winning margin of nearly 33%, similar to the 34-point lead YouGov now gives Ms Truss over Mr Sunak.

The YouGov poll also suggests only 14% of party members are undecided or say they won’t vote, and it fiercely contradicts an earlier private poll suggesting the gap had narrowed to just five points.

YouGov’s last poll before this one was carried after the five rounds of voting by MPs, when Penny Mordaunt was eliminated, and suggested a 24-point lead for Ms Truss over Mr Sunak, by 62%-38%.

The apparent widening of the gap, in the week party members receive their ballot papers, will delight Truss supporters – and, no doubt, those of the ousted Mr Johnson who want to see Mr Sunak crushed.

But it is likely to plunge the Sunak camp into gloom, panic and despair and spread fears in his team that the game is up for the former chancellor, even before most Tory members cast their vote.

The poll, carried out over the last five days, shows that Ms Truss is now ahead of Mr Sunak among all age groups, across different parts of the country and with men and women.

The only category where he beats Ms Truss is among Tory Remain supporters.

The YouGov survey published today also found that almost nine in 10 Conservative members have now made up their minds how they will vote ahead of ballot papers going out this week.

But it will concern both potential next leaders that more than 50% of party members believed that whoever was elected to succeed Mr Johnson would lose the party its majority at the next election.

Just 19% of members thought Mr Sunak could lead the Tories to victory, while 39% thought Ms Truss could see off a challenge from Labour.

As the leadership race continues to heat up, candidates Mr Sunak and Ms Truss will once again face the cameras this week on Sky News.

Taking place on Thursday 4 August at 8pm at Sky Studios in west London, The Battle for Number 10, will see the candidates take part in back-to-back questioning from the live studio audience made up of Conservative Party members who remain largely undecided on who to vote for.

This will then be followed by an in-depth interview with Kay Burley.

The programme will be broadcast live for 90 minutes and for free on Sky News channel 501, on Freeview 233, on Sky Showcase channel 106, and across Sky News’ digital channels.