Rishi Sunak grilled on position in polls
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Rishi Sunak denied his rival in the Tory leadership election is running away with the contest despite voter polling pointing to a comfortable win for Liz Truss. Mr Sunak has resisted also suggested that his campaign was fighting a lost cause telling radio presenter Matt Chorley that “lots of people have not made up their mind”.
Times Radio’s Mr Chorley asked the former Chancellor: “Are you really still in this, is this is not already a foregone conclusion, all the polls suggest Liz Truss is miles ahead.
“Why are you, why are you traipsing around, I’ve actually lost count of the number of places you’re going to today, why are you still traipsing around the country doing this?”
Mr Sunak replied: “Because I’m fighting passionately for the things that I believe are best for this country, and the reception I’m getting everywhere I go is positive.
“People are responding well, and I think I’ve got a fantastic chance to make progress in this campaign and all the polls don’t say that actually, Matt there was a poll of counsellors the other day, and there hardly been any polls, to be honest, but there was a poll of counsellors we showed it was completely evenly split between me and Liz cross and people who don’t know.
“That’s the point actually, you’ve probably seen some of these hustings, you ask people who’ve made up their mind lots of people have not made up their mind. So you know, I’m going to go out and fight very hard for every vote. I’m giving it everything I’ve got, as you can see across the country, and I’m going to do that till the last day of this campaign.”
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Pressed about resolving issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, Mr Sunak would seek to find a “constructive solution” via talks with Irish, French, and European leaders.
The former chancellor told Times Radio: “Quite simply, at the moment the economy of Northern Ireland is being pulled out of the orbit of the rest of the economy of the United Kingdom, and that’s wrong.”
He added: “The Bill that’s in Parliament is one that I support, that will address them, but it will take time, so I hope as the new prime minister I can sit down and have a constructive relationship with the Irish, French and European governments to make sure we can try and see if we can find a constructive solution to this problem, not least because it’d mean we could solve it far faster than the time it takes the Bill to get through Parliament.
“People should be in no doubt that it’s wrong what is happening, the Northern Ireland economy should of course be an integral part of the UK economy, it shouldn’t be sucked out, and I will make sure that doesn’t happen as PM.”
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Mr Sunak has also suggested his Tory leadership opponent Liz Truss does not “believe” in the windfall tax on oil and gas profits.
He said that as profits increase the levy would “automatically raise more money” in tax to support struggling households, adding he would use that cash to “defray people’s bills”.
The former chancellor said: “I think that is the right thing to do and I think Liz Truss last night said she opposed doing that and actually didn’t believe in that policy, so I think that is a question for her to answer.
“I think that is the fair thing to do, so it is easy for me to say yes I can have the money to pay for these things because I have put in place a mechanism that actually raises money from the energy companies to do so.”
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At a husting on Thursday, Ms Truss said profit should not be a “dirty word”.
A Conservative former minister backing Rishi Sunak has said his “aim” as prime minister would be to help “those in most need” with the cost of living.
Asked by Sky News if Mr Sunak would guarantee vulnerable households would not fall short over the winter, North Somerset MP Liam Fox said: “The aim is very clear. The aim of Rishi Sunak is to say we understand that we can’t simply say we will cut taxes, because that wouldn’t help those who are at the bottom end who are not paying taxes on fixed incomes.
“They are the ones who have got to get the biggest amount of help, as you correctly say, at the moment we are giving help to all households, but extra help to those in most need. That seems to me to both economically and morally the best way forward.”
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