Liz Truss will fight to become the next Tory leader with the promise of reversing Rishi Sunak’s controversial National Insurance hike, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The Foreign Secretary is set to launch her bid to succeed Boris Johnson this week, claiming to be the only candidate who can emulate his election-winning skills with ‘classic Conservative principles’.
Her economic plan also involves cutting corporation tax, introducing measures to ease the cost of living crisis and paying off the debt accrued during the Covid pandemic in installments over a decade. Mounting a scathing criticism of Mr Sunak today, one Truss ally said: ‘Britain does not currently have an economic policy.’
Mr. Sunak, whose resignation as Chancellor last week helped precipitate Mr. Johnson’s brutal eviction from Downing Street, has gathered early momentum in the race to succeed him. His leadership bid kicked off on Friday with a slick video which pledged to ‘restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country’.
Liz Truss (left) will pitch herself as the female Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race – a candidate who can win seats both in the South and the Red Wall.
Mr Sunak today makes his first policy proposal, pledging through the MoS to better protect women’s rights, including reversing ‘recent trends to erase women via the use of clumsy, gender-neutral language’. He argues: ‘We must be able to call a mother a mother and talk about breastfeeding.’
Ms Truss hopes to stop the Sunak bandwagon with a series of eye-catching, small-state, Thatcherite policies, including a vow to reverse Mr Sunak’s £12 billion National Insurance rise. The new health and social care levy took effect in April following a bruising series of disagreements between Mr. Sunak and Mr. Johnson which poisoned the atmosphere between them.
Ms. Truss was one of only three ministers, alongside Lord Frost and Jacob Rees-Mogg, who spoke out against the policy in the Cabinet.
The Foreign Secretary’s allies are urging MPs to unite under her candidacy to prevent the Right wing of the party from being frozen out of the final stages of the race.
More than a dozen Tories are currently planning bids to move into Downing Street. But Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, one of the early favorites in the contest, announced yesterday that he would not be entering the contest.
Friends said that although he had secured substantial backing from MPs, the father-of-three did not want to subject his family to the pressures of the job.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson was at the center of new claims of inappropriate conduct last night as it was alleged that he lobbied for a woman to be given a job after he had a sexual relationship with her.
The pair are said to have had a fling in 2008 when Mr Johnson was married, newly elected Mayor of London and MP for Henley and she was a graduate in her 20s.
The Sunday Times said he advocated for her to get a job in City Hall but it was blocked by Kit Malthouse, then a deputy mayor and now Cabinet Office Minister
Mr. Johnson is said to have admitted pushing her forward for the job when they met again, years later in 2017, to discuss the relationship that she felt was inappropriate.
A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘This is not about his time as PM and has no public interest as I see it, and we don’t talk about his private life.’
Sajid Javid, who stepped down as health secretary within minutes of Mr. Sunak’s resignation, has 7/1 odds of taking his party’s reigns.
At the end of 2021, the Chancellor was the number one candidate to succeed Boris Johnson.
New Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi (right) chats at the Spectator summer party in Westminster
As the race to replace him heated up last night:
- Former Health Secretaries Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid entered the contest, both calling for massive tax cuts;
- Nadhim Zahawi, who publicly called on Mr Johnson to step down just a day after being promoted to Chancellor, launched his bid, pledging ‘to steady the ship and stabilize the economy’;
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced his bid in the Mail on Sunday, promising to cut taxes and red tape;
- The contest was tainted by ‘dirty tricks’ allegations as it was claimed a supporter of one leading candidate had passed smears about rivals to Labour;
- Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, who is also expected to mount a bid within days, was criticized by Tory women’s groups for describing the battle for transgender rights as the ‘fight of our age’;
- Friends of Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said donors had asked her ‘where to send the check’ to bankroll a possible leadership bid;
- Questions were asked about how long Mr. Sunak had been plotting his bid, after it was claimed that the domain name for his ‘Ready For Rishi’ website was registered in December;
- Ms Dorries claimed Mr Javid had told colleagues Mr Sunak had resigned hours before the news was announced, amid suspicion that the two men had acted in concert – although her claim, and the allegations of collusion, were strongly denied by both sides;
- The Sunak camp denied claims by rival campaigns that former No. 10 adviser Dominic Cummings is working on his bid.
Meanwhile, Tory donors lobbied for Mr. Johnson to stay in Downing Street, as the Prime Minister’s former lover, the journalist Petronella Wyatt, suggested that he planned to run in the leadership race.
She tweeted: ‘A source at Number 10 tells me that Boris Johnson intends to stand down as Prime Minister on Monday, in order to run for the Tory leadership.’ However, No. 10 rejected that suggestion.
Ms. Truss is expected to throw her hat into the ring tomorrow.
Allies claim she is the party’s most likely election winner because she is ‘a tough, experienced politician with a delivery record that isn’t matched by other prospective candidates’.
One supporter said: ‘Liz has a clear vision for the economy based around classic Conservative principles of low taxes and a lean state.
The Foreign Secretary’s allies also say that the Leeds-born Minister, ‘would keep the 2019 coalition of the Red and Blue Wall together’.
The Red Wall includes traditional Labor seats in the North that the Tories took under Mr. Johnson, and the Blue Wall refers to the Tory seats under threat from the Liberal Democrats in the South.
Ms Truss’s supporter said: ‘Liz comes from the Red Wall. Her vision of unleashing aspiration is what resonates in these seats.’
Her allies regard Mr. Sunak as the only serious threat to her ambitions after Mr. Wallace decided against running, believing Mr. Zahawi ‘blew himself up’ by moving against Mr. Johnson.
A supporter said: ‘This is not the time for a rookie or someone with a narrow offer. We need someone experienced who can hit the ground running and turn things around quickly.
‘The fact that we’ll be launching a few days later than some other candidates shows Liz has been loyal and focused on the job, not prepping campaign videos that are ready to go.’
Backbencher Tom Tugendhat, Attorney General Suella Braverman and former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch have also confirmed they are standing.