More “flips flops” from Sunak and Truss than seen on Brighton beach, Reed says

Katie Neame

Steve Reed has said there have been more “flip flops” from Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss “than you’ll see on the beach in Brighton” after the Tory leadership candidates completed their tenth hustings event.

The leadership hopefuls took part in a hustings with Tory members in Birmingham on Tuesday evening. Two more hustings events remain before the new Conservative Party leader is announced on September 5th.

Speaking to Sky News this morning, the Shadow Justice Secretary said: “The price cap increases this Friday, two days away. Where’s the government? We’ve got a zombie government that is doing nothing, because this interminable leadership contest has gone on and on and on.”

Consultancy Cornwall Insight released its latest projections for the price cap on Monday. Its estimate for the cap from October fell marginally on its previous projection, from £3,583 to £3,553.

But the company predicted that the price cap could rise to almost £4,650 in January, compared to last week’s forecast of £4,266. Its projection for April’s cap also increased considerably, with the company now forecasting that annual energy bills could top £5,300 in the spring.

Reed told viewers: “We’ve got the flip flops we’ve seen from them as well. Originally, Rishi Sunak said he wouldn’t cut VAT from energy bills when we proposed it. Now, he says he will. Liz Truss says she wasn’t going to give what she called ‘handouts’ – help to people that are really struggling. Now, she says she might.

“More flip flops from these two than you’ll see on the beach in Brighton. But where are the hard ideas, where are the decisions? This is the government.”

Sunak set out a plan to support 16 million vulnerable people with their energy bills earlier this month, including a proposal to scrap VAT on energy bills, which he claimed would save all households around £200.

The former Chancellor voted against Labour’s proposal to cut VAT on energy bills in January, which he justified in part by saying the move would “disproportionately benefit wealthier households”.

Truss said in early August she would “look at what more can be done” to support households with the rising cost of living but added: “The way I would do things is in a Conservative way of lowering the tax burden, not giving out handouts.”

But asked four days later if she was ruling out any form of grant to help with energy bills, the Foreign Secretary said: “That’s not what I said.”

“My priority is making sure we’re not taking money off people and then giving it back to them later on. I believe in people keeping their own money and I believe in a low-tax economy. What’s wrong is taking money from people in taxes and then giving back to them in benefits,” she added.

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