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Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak Can't Agree On Urgent Cost-Of-Living Summit

Liz Truss appeared at a Conservative leadership hustings in Darlington on Tuesday (Alamy)

3 min read

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have disagreed on whether they should both meet with the Prime Minister to agree new measures to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

Truss and Sunak attended a hustings in Darlington on Tuesday evening just hours after analysts predicted energy bills could spike over £4,000 in the coming winter. Anxieties were further heightened after Bloomberg reported planning by government for the worst case scenario could see organised blackouts, and sources told PoliticsHome there are fears supermarket supplies could be affected.

While Downing Street has insisted that the outgoing prime minister is unable to make policy and spending decisions, government is under growing pressure to urgently address the crisis before the leadership contest concludes on 5 September. 

On Tuesday, head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Tony Danker urged Johnson to get around a table with Truss and Sunak to thrash out an approach to rising bills on “the principles given they disagree on the mechanics”.

While Sunak has said he would be “happy to” sit down with Truss and Boris Johnson, Truss said she thought it would be “bizarre” for a “kangaroo committee” to make such decisions. 

Sunak, who has suggested he would provide more help with energy bills this winter, told the Darlington hustings “of course, I’m happy to do that” but pointed out that his and Truss’ differing opinions on how to tackle the crisis were dominating the leadership contest.

"You're going to hear one point of view from me about how I think we need to deal with this autumn-winter," he said. 

"And then in 15 minutes time you're going to hear a completely different approach."

Asked the same question, Truss, who has rejected the idea of more “handouts”, said “we have a Chancellor, we have a Prime Minister who are in those jobs until September and I think it would be constitutionally deeply undesirable to try and overrule them with a sort of made up committee of the CBI, me and Rishi Sunak”. 

She added: “This kangaroo committee you’re proposing sounds bizarre”. 

Both candidates are coming under increasing pressure to explain how they would protect households from soaring energy bills, with their current proposals widely seen as being insufficient.

The pressures facing households came into even sharper focus on Tuesday morning when energy specialists Cornwall Insight predicted that the energy cap would increase to £3,582.02 in October, before rising again to £4,266.48 in early 2023.

The Liberal Democrats today called on the Prime Minister to recall Parliament, with leader Ed Davey accusing Johnson and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi of a "deafening silence" while “people are worried sick about the next staggering rise in energy bills which is just round the corner".

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