Sunday shows: Labour “absolutely” on an election footing, Thomas-Symonds says

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Shadow International Trade Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds declared that his party is “absolutely” on an election footing and added that he wants to see the government “swept away as soon as possible” so that Labour can “get on with the job” of rebuilding the economy and responding to the cost-of-living crisis.

  • On the fact that Liz Truss is likely to become the next Prime Minister: “Whether she will be an improvement on Boris Johnson – who frankly trashed the office of Prime Minister – only time, in the end, will tell.
  • On the Conservative leadership race: “What I’ve seen over the summer, frankly, are two Conservative leadership candidates living in some sort of parallel reality… The Conservative Party has spent well over two months talking to itself and left in place a zombie government.”
  • On Labour’s plan to support people with the rising cost of living: “What we are saying very clearly is freeze energy bills, freeze that price cap so people are not paying a penny more and take that worry away from people.
  • On business: “We would be putting in place a contingency fund of £1bn for energy intensive businesses and, in addition to that, we would be raising the threshold at which business rates are paid, before then actually reforming business rates.”
  • Asked whether Labour is preparing for an early election: “We are absolutely on an election footing, and I want to see this government swept away as soon as possible. These are continuity candidates, and part of the Conservative debate over the summer has been about all the problems that have been caused by 12 years of Conservative rule.
  • He added: “To sweep this government away, we need to have that general election, and we in Labour want to see that general election happen as soon as we possibly can so we can get on with the job of rebuilding our country’s economy and standing beside people in this acute cost-of-living crisis.”
  • On whether Boris Johnson could return to frontline politics: “It really does show now the Conservative Party has completely lost its way if they are saying credibly that they want to get rid of one leader then try and have a leadership contest with others then try and bring the other leader back.”

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg

Asked whether she will give people money to help with rising bills, Liz Truss told viewers: “I will act immediately on bills and on energy supply because I think those two things go hand-in-hand… within one week I will make sure there is an announcement of how we are going to deal with energy bills.”

Asked whether she would reject Labour’s plan to freeze energy bills over the winter, the frontrunner in the Conservative leadership election said: “I’m not going to go into details of what a putative announcement would be.”

Put to her that her tax plans would mean the poorest people gain around £7 while the richest would gain over £1,800, Truss said: “To look at everything through the lens of redistribution, I believe, is wrong – because what I’m about is growing the economy and growing the economy benefits everyone.”

She added: “The economic debate for the past 20 years has been dominated by discussions about distribution and what’s happened is we’ve had relatively low growth.”

Asked whether it is fair to give wealthier people more money in a tax cut, she said: “Yes, it is fair.”

On energy, Truss argued that it is “important we use the resources in the North Sea”, that there is “more we can do to exploit current gas fields” and that she supports “exploring fracking in parts of the UK where that can be done”.

She said she supports “solar on commercial roofs” but added “what we shouldn’t be doing is putting solar panels on productive agricultural land because as well as an energy security issue we face a food security issue”.

She claimed she is “very supportive of renewables” but said “our priority has to be energy security and I will make sure that we do hit our net-zero targets but we need to do it in a way that protects energy security”.

She added: “Gas is a very important transition fuel. Gas has half the emissions of coal. It is a good fuel to use as we’re transitioning to net zero.”

Commenting on Truss’ remarks on cost-of-living support, Labour’s Emily Thornberry told viewers: “It’s extraordinary that we’ve had a leadership election that has gone on for weeks and weeks as everyone has been saying and yet the two leadership candidates cannot give a specific answer to the one question that everyone, frankly, wants an answer to.”

Rishi Sunak also appeared on the show this morning. He said that “everyone is going to need some help given the scale of the challenge” of the cost-of-living crisis.

Asked whether he would “plan for blackouts” as Prime Minister with energy rationing, he said: “We shouldn’t rule anything out. I mean, we’re facing a genuine emergency. I think anyone pretending that isn’t the situation isn’t being straight with the country and, by the way, across Europe those plans are being drawn up.”

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