No 10’s refusal of emergency budget shows Tories have lost control of economy, says Labour – as it happened | Politics


Labour: No 10’s refusal of emergency budget shows Tories have ‘lost control’ of economy

Labour has criticised No 10’s decision to ignore calls for a recall of parliament and an emergency budget. In response to the Downing Street lobby briefing (see 12.37pm), Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, issued a a statement saying that the Conservative party had “lost control” of the economy. She said:

People are worried sick about how they’ll pay their bills and do their weekly food shop, and all this Tory prime minister does is shrug his shoulders. An economic crisis like this requires strong leadership and urgent action – but instead we have a Tory party that’s lost control and are stuck with two continuity candidates who can only offer more of the same.

Labour would start by scrapping tax breaks on oil and gas producers and providing more help to people who are struggling to pay their energy bills. Only a Labour government can tackle this crisis and deliver the stronger, more secure economy that Britain needs.

It is also interesting to see Reeves describe both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak as continuity candidates. “Time for a change” is often the most compelling message available in a political campaign, and so it is easy to see why Labour wants to brand them both as continuity figures.

But it does not square with conventional assessments of the Tory leadership contests. Truss is a continuity candidate in the sense that she is a Boris Johnson loyalist who shares his scepticism about fiscal orthodoxy and his faith in Brexit boosterism. But as PM she would implement unfunded tax cuts on a scale way beyond anything Johnson was able to get past the Treasury.

And Sunak is a continuity candidate in terms of economic policy (which is not surprising, because he was largely in charge of Johnson’s economic policy until a few weeks ago). But temperamentally he is very different, he appeals to a different type of voter and a Sunak administration would feel more like a conventional Conservative one. In a good Sunday Times column yesterday, Robert Colvile argued that a Truss win would mark the victory of Johnsonism over Cameronism.

Rachel Reeves.
Rachel Reeves. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

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  • Boris Johnson has ruled out new cost of living measures until a new prime minister is in place, with No 10 saying the worst financial pressure on families will not hit until later in the year. No 10 stuck to the line that it would not be appropriate for him to pre-empt a decision that should be taken by his successor despite Labour (see 1.48pm), the former prime minister Gordon Brown (see 11.11am), Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon (see 4pm) and the CBI (see 5.03pm) all calling for an urgent intervention from him now.
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    Tony Danker, head of the CBI, has joined Gordon Brown (see 11.11am) and Nicola Strugeon (see 4pm) in calling on Boris Johnson to take emergency action to address the cost of living crisis. In a statement Danker says Johnson should convene a meeting with his two potential successors, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, to agree a joint response to the announcement due later this month on the next rise in the energy price cap. The CBI says:

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    The PM must bring together both leadership candidates in the next two weeks to agree a way forward to support people and businesses with energy bills once the Ofgem price cap is announced on 26 August. This will allow the current prime minister to issue reassurances on 26th that people will be significantly supported – not waiting until 5 September or later.

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    Given that Truss and Sunak are at loggerheads over how to respond to the cost of living crisis (see 8.56am), this proposal may be even less likely to be taken up than Brown’s call for a recall of parliament, or Strugeon’s proposal for a meeting of the UK heads of government council.

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    Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has released the text of an open letter to Boris Johnson asking him to convene an emergency meeting with the leaders of the devolved governments to discuss the cost of living crisis. She says it should happen “as soon as possible this week” to agree “urgent steps to help those in most need now, and also formulate a plan of action for the autumn and winter ahead”.

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    Explaining why she thinks action is needed now, she says:

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    While we will continue to take all actions available to us within devolved responsibilities and budgets – the Scottish government is investing almost £3bn this year in a range of measures which will help address the cost of living pressures – it is a statement of fact that many of the levers which would make the biggest difference lie with the UK government. It is also the case that only the UK government can access and make available resources on the scale required. Therefore, actions by devolved governments alone – though important – will not be enough to meet the unprecedented challenges we face.

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    Action is needed now to address significant gaps in help for households, in particular those on low incomes, who are increasingly vulnerable to the impact of rising household costs. However, it is also vital, given further increases to energy bills due to be announced later this month, that a substantial plan be developed now to avert and mitigate what will otherwise be a crisis of unprecedented proportions – a crisis in which many people will be unable to feed themselves and their families or heat their homes.

    \n

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    Sturgeon says the meeting should take the form of a heads of government council. This new body, set up under reforms announced in January, was due to meet for the first time in September.

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    She also implies that the proposals to address the cost of living crisis from Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, the two Tories left in the contest to succeed Johnson, are “irresponsible”. She says:

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    \n

    While few will escape some impact of the cost of living crisis, these impacts are not being experienced evenly. That is why the focus must be on providing targeted support to those most adversely impacted, rather than an irresponsible reduction in broad-based taxes which will benefit the relatively better off over those most in need. It is also vital that any tax cuts introduced by the UK government do not result in tighter controls on spending which will impact on delivery of public services already under immense pressure.

    \n

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    Sturgeon is referring to Truss’s plan to reverse the national insurance increase, and Sunak’s plan for a temporary cut in VAT on domestic fuel bills.

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    Earlier today, No 10 said Johnson would not be announcing emergency cost of living measures because it was for his successor to take major spending decisions of this kind. (See 12.37pm.)

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says Johnson should call emergency UK heads of government meeting this week to plan for cost of living crisis”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Mon 8 Aug 2022 12.30 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Mon 8 Aug 2022 03.56 EDT”},{“id”:”62f100568f080e23bc39e900″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    Labour has criticised No 10’s decision to ignore calls for a recall of parliament and an emergency budget. In response to the Downing Street lobby briefing (see 12.37pm), Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, issued a a statement saying that the Conservative party had “lost control” of the economy. She said:

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    \n

    People are worried sick about how they’ll pay their bills and do their weekly food shop, and all this Tory prime minister does is shrug his shoulders. An economic crisis like this requires strong leadership and urgent action – but instead we have a Tory party that’s lost control and are stuck with two continuity candidates who can only offer more of the same.

    \n

    Labour would start by scrapping tax breaks on oil and gas producers and providing more help to people who are struggling to pay their energy bills. Only a Labour government can tackle this crisis and deliver the stronger, more secure economy that Britain needs.

    \n

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    It is also interesting to see Reeves describe both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak as continuity candidates. “Time for a change” is often the most compelling message available in a political campaign, and so it is easy to see why Labour wants to brand them both as continuity figures.

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    But it does not square with conventional assessments of the Tory leadership contests. Truss is a continuity candidate in the sense that she is a Boris Johnson loyalist who shares his scepticism about fiscal orthodoxy and his faith in Brexit boosterism. But as PM she would implement unfunded tax cuts on a scale way beyond anything Johnson was able to get past the Treasury.

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    And Sunak is a continuity candidate in terms of economic policy (which is not surprising, because he was largely in charge of Johnson’s economic policy until a few weeks ago). But temperamentally he is very different, he appeals to a different type of voter and a Sunak administration would feel more like a conventional Conservative one. In a good Sunday Times column yesterday, Robert Colvile argued that a Truss win would mark the victory of Johnsonism over Cameronism.

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No 10’s refusal of emergency budget shows Tories have ‘lost control’ of economy”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Mon 8 Aug 2022 12.30 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Mon 8 Aug 2022 03.56 EDT”},{“id”:”62f0ec2b8f080e23bc39e7ec”,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    Downing Street held a lobby briefing this morning. Here are the key points.

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      \n

    • Boris Johnson is rejecting the call from Gordon Brown for parliament to be recalled to pass an emergency budget. (See 11.11am.) Asked about the suggestion, the prime minister’s spokesperson said the government has already announced measures due to come into effect later this year. He also said Johnson was abiding by the convention that says, in his final weeks in office, he should not make significant fiscal interventions because those decisions should be left for his successor. There were no plans to recall parliament, the spokesperson added.
    • \n

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      \n

    • The spokesperson said Boris Johnson was back from holiday – but he would not confirm that Johnson paid for it himself. Johnson and his wife, Carrie, reportedly had a break last week at an eco-hotel in Slovenia where rooms cost between £242 and £542 a night. The spokesperson would not confirm that this was where Johnson was on holiday, but he said the destination had been reported. Asked if the PM paid for it himself, the spokesperson said “no taxpayers’ money was used for this” and that it was a private matter. Asked again if Johnson had paid for it himself, the spokesperson said he was not aware of the situation, but that any declarations would be made in the normal way if Johnson had to register it as a gift.
    • \n

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      \n

    • The spokesperson denied that Johnson has been “missing in action” this summer. The claim has been made by Labour, which said last week that Johnson and the chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, should not both be on holiday when the UK was heading into a recession. But the spokesperson said he did not accept that characterisation. He said people understood that it was usual for the PM, and other ministers, to take time off during the summer recess. Asked what Johnson would be working on now he was back from holiday, the spokesperson said he would be speaking to the chancellor “to make sure that the support [with energy bills] that is coming later in the year is on track”. The government was delivering in a number of other areas too, the spokesperson said.
    • \n

    “,”elementId”:”26ca155c-7e68-4bcc-941b-cd57bebc1052″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

      \n

    • No 10 refused to back calls for the privileges committee inquiry into claims he lied to parliament about Partygate to be halted. The Daily Mail (which supports Johnson and opposes the inquiry) has splashed on those demands this morning.
    • \n

    “,”elementId”:”c5bd08fb-117b-4e28-a89f-a7d2d887a67e”},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement”,”html”:”

    Monday's Mail: Tories 'Must Quit Boris Witch-Hunt' #TomorrowsPapersToday #DailyMail #Mail pic.twitter.com/qlfBcCUwFF

    — Tomorrows Papers Today (@TmorrowsPapers) August 7, 2022

    \n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/TmorrowsPapers/status/1556400100229931013″,”id”:”1556400100229931013″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”7601502d-4e90-403b-9816-66bbb383f74b”},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    Asked if Johnson wanted the inquiry to be halted, the spokesperson said Downing Street wanted to “abide by the process”. He said parliament had voted for the inquiry to go ahead, and he said Downing Street would assist the committee. But he said he was unable to say when No 10 would respond to the letter from the committee demanding written evidence relating to what Johnson did and didn’t know about the lockdown-busting partying. Asked if Johnson thought the process would be fair, the spokesperson just said he would expect the committee to abide by the rules.

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    In his first newspaper interview as health secretary (and possibly his last – he is backing Rishi Sunak for Tory leader, not the favourite Liz Truss), Steve Barclay has told the Daily Telegraph that the NHS is facing “very real challenges” this winter. He told the paper:

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    We have very real challenges coming down the track in the autumn and winter, and as far as I’m concerned there needs to be a real sprint within Whitehall, and particularly in the Department of Health, to get ready for September.

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    Part of my role is to prepare for reasonable worst-case scenarios. Obviously those pressures can come in different forms. It might be you get a bad flu, it may be Covid rates are higher than we would expect or like.

    \n

    There’s an urgency of now to prepare, particularly in areas where there’s a long lead time. The decisions need to happen now, not wait until the autumn – by which time those lead times would put the resolution at too late a stage.

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    Barclay also told the Telegraph that he wanted to hire more staff from overseas to fill vacancies in social care. There are reportedly more than 100,000 vacancies in social care, and Barclay said hospitals were unable to discharge some patients because staff shortages meant places were not available for them in care homes. He said:

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    I have been working at pace over recent weeks to accelerate our contingency plans, to look at specific levers such as increasing significantly our international recruitment …

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    A big part of my focus has been giving a lot more ministerial time to looking at the issues on delayed discharge, on social care recruitment. If there’s pressure on the system and that requires more beds in the community, those beds need the workforce to go with them.

    \n

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    The Telegraph said this could include hiring more nurses from countries that train more nurses than they need, including India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. The paper, and Barclay in his remarks from the interview that were reported, did not address the point that labour shortages in the social care sector have been exacerbated by Brexit.

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secretary wants UK to hire more social care staff from abroad as NHS faces ‘very real challenges'”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Mon 8 Aug 2022 12.30 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Mon 8 Aug 2022 03.56 EDT”},{“id”:”62f0dd228f087e2e93c7351b”,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    In an article for the Observer at the weekend, the Labour former prime minister Gordon Brown said Boris Johnson and the Tory leadership candidates should agree an immediate emergency budget to set out measures to help people with the cost of living crisis. This morning he has been giving interviews restating this demand. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain:

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    If you don’t act now, you cannot get the benefits to people by October 1. If you wait until after the new prime minister is selected, that will be too late to get benefits to people by October 1. It’s too late because people will be experiencing great hardship, an unbearable burden of unpayable bills in October.

    \n

    So that’s why I want Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, they may disagree on things but they should get together, agree that they are in charge of delivering an emergency budget.Parliament should be recalled if necessary. We can let this crisis develop so that we have an emergency we cannot deal with properly in October.

    \n

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    Brown also criticised Truss and Sunak for proposing tax cuts. He said:

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    The tax cuts that Liz Truss is proposing [reversing the national insurance increase] don’t really help the people who need help most. They give most to people who are richer. Rishi Sunak’s now come out with a tax cut [cutting VAT on fuel bills] that he himself said … would disproportionately help the rich a few months ago …

    \n

    It’s not tax cuts that are going to solve the problem that we’ve got in the winter months.

    \n

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Brown tells Truss and Sunak tax cuts won’t solve problem with cost of living crisis”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Mon 8 Aug 2022 12.30 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Mon 8 Aug 2022 03.56 EDT”},{“id”:”62f0d0938f087e2e93c73464″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    Rishi Sunak has said that, in addition to the help with energy bills he announced as chancellor, he would cut VAT on domestic fuel if he became PM. He says this would save an average family £160.

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    This policy is open to the same accusation he has made about Liz Truss’s proposed national insurance cut; it is not targeted at those most in need, and, for poor families, it would only cover a fraction of the extra costs they will face as energy bills go up.

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    But Sunak has also signalled that as PM he would do more, with a further package of energy support measures that would be announced in the autumn. In an interview with Sky News this morning Oliver Dowden, the former Conservative party co-chair and a leading Sunak supporter, said this package would be “on a considerable scale” – hinting that it would match what was announced earlier this year. He said:

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    I think there is no doubt that we do need an intervention of a considerable scale to deal with this, because we have to be honest with people about the scale of the challenge that they are facing.

    \n

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    As chancellor, Sunak made three major announcements this year, all involving massive “handouts” (as Liz Truss would call them) intended to help people with the cost of living: a £9bn energy support package in February, the spring statement in March involving further giveaways worth about £10bn, and a £15bn package of support announced in May.

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    Brandon Lewis, the former Northern Ireland secretary and a leading Liz Truss supporter, has been giving interviews this morning, which mostly have focused on Truss’s approach to dealing with the cost of living crisis. (See 8.56am.) Here are the main points.

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      \n

    • Lewis admitted that the tax cuts announced by Truss already would not on their own “fully solve” the cost of living crisis for people. But he said there would be further measures in an emergency budget. In an interview with the Today programme’s Nick Robinson, he said:
    • \n

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    Apart from the specific details that Liz has already outlined that give some help to people – I appreciate it doesn’t fully solve the problem, this is a big, international, global inflation and energy price change that we’re facing – she also wants to bring forward an emergency budget.

    \n

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      \n

    • He indicated that Liz Truss was not ruling out using handouts to help people with rising energy prices in the emergency budget she wants to hold if she becomes prime minister in September. This is from the Mirror’s Dan Bloom.
    • \n

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    In his Today programme interview, Brandon Lewis refused (by my count) 9 times to be definitive about whether Liz Truss will give cost of living “handouts” to families this winter.

    The thread seemed pretty clear to me that she doesn't want to… (while not ruling it out…)

    — Dan Bloom (@danbloom1) August 8, 2022

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      \n

    • Lewis was reluctant to confirm Truss’s plan to reverse the national insurance increase would provide minimal help only for people on the national living wage. He repeatedly dodged the question in a testy interview on the Today programme. Robinson eventually answered his own question, saying the national insurance cut would be worth only £59 to someone on the national living wage – when the energy price cap was set to rise by about £1,600. Kate Nicholson at HuffPost has a full write-up of the exchanges here. This is from the consumer journalist Paul Lewis.
    • \n

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    Interesting that @BrandonLewis would not tell @bbcnickrobinson @BBCr4today what the NI cut planned by Liz Truss would save people. See my pinned tweet for the facts. He as an MP will save £894 a year while someone full time on Nat Living Wage will save £74 a year.

    — Paul Lewis (@paullewismoney) August 8, 2022

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plan to cut NI ‘doesn’t fully solve’ cost of living crisis, ally admits”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Mon 8 Aug 2022 12.30 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Mon 8 Aug 2022 03.56 EDT”},{“id”:”62f0b5f08f08cf33fef3735f”,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    Good morning. At the end of last week Liz Truss, the clear frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest, gave an interview to the Financial Times in which she appeared to rule out using benefits or one-off payments to offer further help people with their energy bills this winter. She told the paper:

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    \n

    Of course I will look at what more can be done. But the way I would do things is in a Conservative way of lowering the tax burden, not giving out handouts.

    \n

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    This triggered a backlash and, for the second time in a week, her campaign responded by claiming that she had been “misinterpreted”. But this controversy is probably much more significant than the one about her proposal for regional public sector pay, which she was able to bury with a hasty, on-the-day U-turn. As my colleague Aubrey Allegretti reports, the Truss campaign now say they are not ruling out any further handouts to help people with the cost of living crisis this autumn. But Truss has not resiled from the main point she was making in the FT interview, which was that she believes that the priority should be cutting tax. When she talks about “the Conservative way” (a phrase she also used in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday), she is referring to the long-standing Conservative belief that, rather than have the state take money from people through tax and then give it back to them, it is generally preferable to let them keep it in the first place.

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    The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t work when people are facing dire poverty and in need of urgent financial support to buy food and stay warm during the winter. This is a point that Rishi Sunak has been making, and he has done so forcibly this morning in an article in the Sun. It is worth quoting from it at some length. The former chancellor says:

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    \n

    Families are facing a long, hard winter with rising bills.

    \n

    Yet Liz’s plan to deal with that is to give a big bung to large businesses and the well-off, leaving those who most need help out in the cold.

    \n

    Worse still, she has said she will not provide direct support payments to those who are feeling the pinch most.

    \n

    Scrapping the health and social care levy will give the average worker around £170.

    \n

    But someone on the national living wage will get less than £60 for the year.

    \n

    Pensioners will not get a penny.

    \n

    And her corporation tax cuts don’t benefit small businesses – they just put money back in the coffers of the biggest companies with the largest profits.

    \n

    These tax cuts simply won’t touch the sides.

    \n

    We need clear-eyed realism, not starry-eyed boosterism.

    \n

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    Much of this sounds like a Labour party press release. That may help to explain why Truss, not Sunak, is on course to win, but it also illustrates how damaging this leadership contest has been for the reputation of the Conservative party as a whole. The candidates have been writing the scripts for Labour’s next campaign adverts.

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    This row is likely to carry on through the day. Brandon Lewis, the former Northern Ireland secretary, has been giving interviews this morning on behalf of Truss, and Oliver Dowden, the former Tory co-chair, has been doing the same for Sunak. I will summarise what they have been saying shortly.

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    There is not much in the diary today, but Truss and Sunak are both holding campaign events with Tory members, and Downing Street is holding a lobby briefing at 11.30am.

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    I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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    If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

    “,”elementId”:”0d07cc62-c21d-4beb-ac19-9120af089661″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com

    “,”elementId”:”cb73d166-c591-4391-8640-9403e9db6c54″}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”summary”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1659945416000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”03.56 EDT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1659948102000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”04.41 EDT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1659945416000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”03.56 EDT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”03.56″,”title”:”Sunak says Truss’s anti-handout approach to cost of living crisis ‘won’t touch the sides’”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Mon 8 Aug 2022 12.30 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Mon 8 Aug 2022 03.56 EDT”}],”filterKeyEvents”:false,”format”:{“display”:0,”theme”:0,”design”:10},”id”:”key-events-carousel-mobile”}”>

    Key events

    Afternoon summary

    Boris Johnson is under pressure to intervene on the cost of living crisis. He is refusing to do so – but he has posted a message on Twitter thanking everyone who made the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham a success.

    I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped make the 22nd Commonwealth Games such a success – athletes, officials, spectators, organisers & volunteers.

    Birmingham has staged one of the all-time great sporting spectacles – a legacy that will live for generations. pic.twitter.com/bBbUlifO02

    — Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 8, 2022

    \n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson/status/1556677302024642561″,”id”:”1556677302024642561″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”7e3fad30-e4fb-446e-ba8e-512650d296b6″}}”>

    I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped make the 22nd Commonwealth Games such a success – athletes, officials, spectators, organisers & volunteers.

    Birmingham has staged one of the all-time great sporting spectacles – a legacy that will live for generations. pic.twitter.com/bBbUlifO02

    — Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 8, 2022

    I have updated the post at 4.23pm to explain that, although Laura Farris says she has stood down from the privileges committee, technically she remains a member until the Commons passes a motion to replace her with someone else.

    CBI chief says Johnson should meet with Truss and Sunak to agree measures to deal with rising energy bills

    Tony Danker, head of the CBI, has joined Gordon Brown (see 11.11am) and Nicola Strugeon (see 4pm) in calling on Boris Johnson to take emergency action to address the cost of living crisis. In a statement Danker says Johnson should convene a meeting with his two potential successors, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, to agree a joint response to the announcement due later this month on the next rise in the energy price cap. The CBI says:

    The PM must bring together both leadership candidates in the next two weeks to agree a way forward to support people and businesses with energy bills once the Ofgem price cap is announced on 26 August. This will allow the current prime minister to issue reassurances on 26th that people will be significantly supported – not waiting until 5 September or later.

    Given that Truss and Sunak are at loggerheads over how to respond to the cost of living crisis (see 8.56am), this proposal may be even less likely to be taken up than Brown’s call for a recall of parliament, or Strugeon’s proposal for a meeting of the UK heads of government council.

    Tony Danker.
    Tony Danker. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA
    Lisa O'Carroll

    Lisa O’Carroll

    The UK has been given an extra month to respond to infringement proceedings issued by the EU over the alleged “breach of international law” over the failure to implement the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

    While Northern Ireland and Brexit has played little part in the Conservative party leadership election, the progress of the law suit is a sharp reminder that Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss’s threat to tear up the protocol risks a further deterioration in the already poor relations with Brussels.

    The UK is currently facing seven infringement proceedings over the protocol.

    The EU sent its legal opinion and two letters of formal notice on 15 June with a two-month deadline for a response.

    After a request by the UK for more time, the deadline has been extended to 15 September, an EU official has confirmed.

    The Conservative MP Laura Farris says she has stepped down from the privileges committee, which is carrying out the inquiry into whether Boris Johnson lied to MPs about Partygate.

    A number of reports have appeared in the Mail & subsequent publications about the Privileges Committee, its investigation into the Prime Minister & comments I & others have made

    I stepped down from the Committee last month. It is regrettable that no journalist spoke to me first

    — Laura Farris MP (@Laura__Farris) August 8, 2022

    \n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/Laura__Farris/status/1556554163445764096″,”id”:”1556554163445764096″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”5b93ca51-b72d-42fb-8e8a-2e00c576df65″}}”>

    A number of reports have appeared in the Mail & subsequent publications about the Privileges Committee, its investigation into the Prime Minister & comments I & others have made

    I stepped down from the Committee last month. It is regrettable that no journalist spoke to me first

    — Laura Farris MP (@Laura__Farris) August 8, 2022

    I maintain confidence in the Committee, it’s members and the mandate given to it by the House of Commons

    — Laura Farris MP (@Laura__Farris) August 8, 2022

    \n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/Laura__Farris/status/1556554346011283456″,”id”:”1556554346011283456″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”710821ba-c1fb-4353-aa32-16e8e6e4ec03″}}”>

    I maintain confidence in the Committee, it’s members and the mandate given to it by the House of Commons

    — Laura Farris MP (@Laura__Farris) August 8, 2022

    Farris and all other Conservative and opposition members of the committee have been singled out in reports, in the Mail on Sunday yesterday and in the Daily Mail today, implying they were biased against Johnson.

    As the government party, the Tories have a majority on the committee and, if Farris has left, they will nominate an MP to replace her. But the committee’s website still lists her as a member.

    UPDATE: According to a parliamentary official, until an MP has been formally discharged from a committee (normally by a Commmons vote replacing them with someone else), they remain technically a member of the committee, and named as such on its website. Farris will not be able to properly leave until after the summer recess, when MPs can vote to replace her.

    Rishi Sunak looking at a book with Teddy Openshaw (aged 4) following a Conservative leadership campaign event in Ribble Valley today. Teddy was at the event with his dad.
    Rishi Sunak looking at a book with Teddy Openshaw (aged 4) following a Conservative leadership campaign event in Ribble Valley today. Teddy was at the event with his dad. Photograph: Getty Images

    Sturgeon says Johnson should call emergency UK heads of government meeting this week to plan for cost of living crisis

    Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has released the text of an open letter to Boris Johnson asking him to convene an emergency meeting with the leaders of the devolved governments to discuss the cost of living crisis. She says it should happen “as soon as possible this week” to agree “urgent steps to help those in most need now, and also formulate a plan of action for the autumn and winter ahead”.

    Explaining why she thinks action is needed now, she says:

    While we will continue to take all actions available to us within devolved responsibilities and budgets – the Scottish government is investing almost £3bn this year in a range of measures which will help address the cost of living pressures – it is a statement of fact that many of the levers which would make the biggest difference lie with the UK government. It is also the case that only the UK government can access and make available resources on the scale required. Therefore, actions by devolved governments alone – though important – will not be enough to meet the unprecedented challenges we face.

    Action is needed now to address significant gaps in help for households, in particular those on low incomes, who are increasingly vulnerable to the impact of rising household costs. However, it is also vital, given further increases to energy bills due to be announced later this month, that a substantial plan be developed now to avert and mitigate what will otherwise be a crisis of unprecedented proportions – a crisis in which many people will be unable to feed themselves and their families or heat their homes.

    Sturgeon says the meeting should take the form of a heads of government council. This new body, set up under reforms announced in January, was due to meet for the first time in September.

    She also implies that the proposals to address the cost of living crisis from Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, the two Tories left in the contest to succeed Johnson, are “irresponsible”. She says:

    While few will escape some impact of the cost of living crisis, these impacts are not being experienced evenly. That is why the focus must be on providing targeted support to those most adversely impacted, rather than an irresponsible reduction in broad-based taxes which will benefit the relatively better off over those most in need. It is also vital that any tax cuts introduced by the UK government do not result in tighter controls on spending which will impact on delivery of public services already under immense pressure.

    Sturgeon is referring to Truss’s plan to reverse the national insurance increase, and Sunak’s plan for a temporary cut in VAT on domestic fuel bills.

    Earlier today, No 10 said Johnson would not be announcing emergency cost of living measures because it was for his successor to take major spending decisions of this kind. (See 12.37pm.)

    Nicola Sturgeon on a visit in Glasgow last month.
    Nicola Sturgeon on a visit in Glasgow last month. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/PA

    More than 13,000 migrants have crossed the Channel since Priti Patel announced her plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, PA Media reports. PA says:

    According to the Ministry of Defence, 176 people made the crossing on five small boats on Sunday, bringing the total to 13,016 since 14 April.

    It brings the total number of people who have crossed the Channel so far this year to 18,284.

    Photographs taken on Monday morning showed another group of migrants, clad in life jackets and face masks, being brought into Dover by Border Force officials.

    Analysis by the PA news agency of the MoD’s provisional figures shows 1,885 people have been brought to the UK so far in August.

    That is more than half of the 3,053 people rescued in August 2021.

    In April Patel, the home secretary, hailed the Rwanda deal as a “world-class” plan that provided a “blueprint” for other countries to follow.

    The week in which the deal was announced proved the busiest of the year for migrant crossings, when 2,076 made the journey across the Channel.

    A group of people thought to be migrants brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel today.
    A group of people thought to be migrants brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel today. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

    Rishi Sunak speaking to Conservative members in Ribble Valley in Lancashire today.
    Rishi Sunak speaking to Conservative members in Ribble Valley in Lancashire today. Photograph: Reuters

    In May Boris Johnson set out plans to cut the size of the civil service by around a fifth, with the loss of around 90,000 jobs. At the time he claimed that this could be achieved without frontline services being harmed.

    According to a report by Peter Foster and George Parker in the Financial Times, a government review has now concluded that cuts on this scale would be impossible without frontline services being affected. They say:

    One Whitehall insider who has worked on the plans to cut 91,000 civil servants said that it had become clear that Johnson had made his announcement – which was greeted with enthusiasm on the rightwing of the Conservative party – without fully thinking through the implications.

    “You can only deliver 91,000 cuts by actual cuts to major frontline services,” added the insider. “There’s no way you can get to that number through efficiency savings or reductions in HQ staff.”

    One government insider said the proposals to axe 91,000 civil servants would involve “serious cuts” to staff at HM Revenue and Customs, Border Force and prisons. “And you couldn’t protect jobs outside London,” added the insider.

    Although estimates were not finalised, another Whitehall insider said a figure of £2bn had been discussed as a working assumption on the cost of compulsory redundancy payments.

    It is not just the Labour party complaining about Tory inaction on the economy. (See 1.48pm.) In his column in the Sun today, Trevor Kavanagh, who was for years political editor at the paper and who is definitely no socialist, attacks the governing party in terms that would probably be deemed too alarmist and extreme for a Labour party press release. This is how his article starts.

    While the Stupid Party is busy rearranging the deckchairs, SS Great Britain is steaming headlong towards the biggest crash since the Great Depression of 1929.

    This is not just a cost-of-living crisis. It is a national economic emergency.

    We are on the brink of a full-blown calamity of wartime proportions, with soaring bankruptcies and unemployment, poverty and homelessness.

    Belt-tightening won’t cut it.

    This country cannot wait four more weeks for the Tories to decide who might lead us through it.

    Without what Churchill called “Action This Day”, millions of hardworking families – including Sun readers – face hunger and destitution for the first time in living memory.

    Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary and arch Boris Johnson loyalist, has been the most vocal of the Tories calling for the privileges committee inquiry into claims that Johnson lied to MPs about Partygate to be halted. She posted this earlier today.

    Collective hatred of Labour MPs towards ⁦@BorisJohnson⁩ for delivering Brexit and 80 seat maj for Gov taking traditional Labour seats, knows no bounds. This Machiavellian enquiry is the means to a by-election and Con MPs should have no part in it. https://t.co/FnkfWvqpsd

    — Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) August 8, 2022

    \n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/NadineDorries/status/1556541189947621381″,”id”:”1556541189947621381″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”4d709de8-9d17-4d78-8703-1d6b1a3c1e94″}}”>

    Collective hatred of Labour MPs towards ⁦@BorisJohnson⁩ for delivering Brexit and 80 seat maj for Gov taking traditional Labour seats, knows no bounds. This Machiavellian enquiry is the means to a by-election and Con MPs should have no part in it. https://t.co/FnkfWvqpsd

    — Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) August 8, 2022

    Gavin Barwell, the Tory peer and chief of staff to Theresa May when May was prime minister, says that if Dorries feels this way, she should have voted against the Commons motion ordering the committee to hold the inquiry in the first place (which she didn’t).

    A reminder that @NadineDorries supported (or at least didn't vote against) referring this matter to the Privileges Committee on 21 April. She is now trying to publicly pressure the MPs on the committee not to do the job she – and the entire House – asked them to do https://t.co/Tlm2Jhrqco

    — Gavin Barwell (@GavinBarwell) August 8, 2022

    \n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/GavinBarwell/status/1556536675139977217″,”id”:”1556536675139977217″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”3c0b5ec2-7910-469b-8581-951942b69976″}}”>

    A reminder that @NadineDorries supported (or at least didn’t vote against) referring this matter to the Privileges Committee on 21 April. She is now trying to publicly pressure the MPs on the committee not to do the job she – and the entire House – asked them to do https://t.co/Tlm2Jhrqco

    — Gavin Barwell (@GavinBarwell) August 8, 2022

    Arguably the context has changed since the Commons vote in April, because Boris Johnson has now agreed to resign as PM. But Johnson still intends to remain an MP (and reportedly hopes he may one day be able to return to No 10), the charge that he committed a contempt of parliament by misleading MPs remains unresolved, and Johnson has failed to give a full and coherent account of why he told MPs that no parties were taking place in Downing Street when some of his most senior advisers were organising and attending those very events.

    Labour: No 10’s refusal of emergency budget shows Tories have ‘lost control’ of economy

    Labour has criticised No 10’s decision to ignore calls for a recall of parliament and an emergency budget. In response to the Downing Street lobby briefing (see 12.37pm), Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, issued a a statement saying that the Conservative party had “lost control” of the economy. She said:

    People are worried sick about how they’ll pay their bills and do their weekly food shop, and all this Tory prime minister does is shrug his shoulders. An economic crisis like this requires strong leadership and urgent action – but instead we have a Tory party that’s lost control and are stuck with two continuity candidates who can only offer more of the same.

    Labour would start by scrapping tax breaks on oil and gas producers and providing more help to people who are struggling to pay their energy bills. Only a Labour government can tackle this crisis and deliver the stronger, more secure economy that Britain needs.

    It is also interesting to see Reeves describe both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak as continuity candidates. “Time for a change” is often the most compelling message available in a political campaign, and so it is easy to see why Labour wants to brand them both as continuity figures.

    But it does not square with conventional assessments of the Tory leadership contests. Truss is a continuity candidate in the sense that she is a Boris Johnson loyalist who shares his scepticism about fiscal orthodoxy and his faith in Brexit boosterism. But as PM she would implement unfunded tax cuts on a scale way beyond anything Johnson was able to get past the Treasury.

    And Sunak is a continuity candidate in terms of economic policy (which is not surprising, because he was largely in charge of Johnson’s economic policy until a few weeks ago). But temperamentally he is very different, he appeals to a different type of voter and a Sunak administration would feel more like a conventional Conservative one. In a good Sunday Times column yesterday, Robert Colvile argued that a Truss win would mark the victory of Johnsonism over Cameronism.

    Rachel Reeves.
    Rachel Reeves. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA





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