UK PM Contender Truss's Tax Cuts Are 'Electoral Suicide’: Raab

UK PM Contender Truss's Tax Cuts Are 'Electoral Suicide’: Raab
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks during the second Conservative Party membership hustings in Exeter, England, on Aug. 1, 2022. (Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Dominic Raab, Britain’s deputy prime minister and justice secretary, has lambasted the economic policies of Liz Truss, the front runner in the campaign to become Britain’s next prime minister as “an electoral suicide note.”

Raab, a Brexit supporter, was one of the few top politicians to stay in the cabinet after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he was stepping down in July. He is supporting former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in his bid to become the next prime minister.

The result will be announced on Sept. 5 and will be decided by Conservative Party members.

Writing in The Times of London on Aug. 8, Raab referred to a key policy difference between Truss and Sunak.

Immediate Tax Cuts

Truss wants to cut taxes immediately. Sunak does not, favouring incremental tax cuts over a period of years.

The row emphasises the main issue in deciding the next prime minister is the economy.

“As Conservatives, we believe in lower taxes and a smaller, leaner state. That must always be our lodestar and, with Rishi Sunak as prime minister, that is where we will get to over the course of the next decade,” Raab wrote.

“But as Conservatives, we also have to be pragmatic. We have to deal with the country and the world as we find it. Last week, the Bank of England forecast a recession and double-digit inflation rolling well into next year. They announced the biggest hike to interest rates in a generation.”

Raab considers Sunak a true Thatcherite.

“As Margaret Thatcher said: 'Inflation is the biggest destroyer of all—of industry, of jobs, of savings, and of society,'” Raab wrote.

“If we go to the country in September with an emergency budget that fails to measure up … voters will not forgive us.

“Such a failure will read unmistakenly to the public like an electoral suicide note and see our great party cast into the impotent oblivion of opposition,” Raab added.

The idea that tax cuts in a stagflationary economy will only make the situation worse was echoed by veteran chancellor and Tory grandee, Nigel Lawson.

“We should stick to the path that Rishi Sunak set as chancellor and look to embrace long-term tax reform as a prerequisite to long-term improvements in competitiveness,” Lawson wrote The Telegraph on Aug. 3, endorsing Sunak.

Infighting Criticised

Meanwhile, Liz Truss’s supporters claimed that the real damage to the party is coming from the type of infighting that Raab is engaging in.

"It’s a shame that we’re hearing that sort of language. That sort of blue-on-blue, as it’s always known, language doesn’t really help,” business minister Paul Scully told Times Radio.

Brandon Lewis, former Northern Ireland secretary and a Liz Truss supporter, made the point she would be able to act quickly because of her good relationship with the current government.

“I think it is good that the current chancellor is looking at what we can do. That will obviously feed into whatever the then chancellor and PM is able to deliver in this emergency budget,” Lewis said in a Twitter post.

Current Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has backed Truss, who wants to cut the 1.25 percent national insurance increases, temporarily suspend the green levy on energy bills, and scrap corporation tax increases.

Sunak's plan is to cut income tax from 20 percent to 16 percent by 2028.

Britain is facing a huge national debt and a cost-of-living crisis in which energy bills have already significantly increased, with further increases expected.
Polls by YouGov of Conservative Party members suggest that Truss has a significant lead among party members and is likely to win the vote in September.
Related Topics