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Tory Party conference – live: Sunak risks MP fury over tax cuts as Manchester event begins

Related video: Manchester mayor Andy Burnham makes plea to PM on HS2

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Halving inflation is the “best tax cut I can deliver,” Rishi Sunak has said as he refused to commit to financial giveaways ahead of the next election.

Speaking in Manchester ahead of the Tory Party conference, the prime minister said “of course I want to cut taxes” but that his priority for now is to bring down rising prices.

His comments to the BBC risk fury among some Tory MPs - including former prime minister Liz Truss and cabinet minister Michael Gove - who earlier called on Mr Sunak to reduce the burden ahead of the next national poll, expected in the spring or summer of next year.

“The best tax cut that I can deliver for the British people right now is to halve inflation,” he told Sunday with Laura  Kuenssberg. “Inflation is a tax that impacts the poorest people the most. That is why I set it out as a first priority.”


Rishi Sunak: ‘Of course I want to cut taxes’, but cutting inflation is priority

Rishi Sunak refused to commit to tax cuts before the next election, claiming “halving inflation is the best tax cut I can deliver”, Archie Mitchell reports.

The prime minister defied calls from backbench MPs and his levelling up secretary Michael Gove, who this morning called for tax cuts in the next year.

Mr Sunak told the BBC: “I am a Conservative, of course I want to cut taxes.”

But the PM did not say taxes would be lowered before a general election expected next year.

Mr Sunak added: “The best tax cut that I can deliver for the British people right now is to halve inflation.

“Inflation is a tax that impacts the poorest people the most. That is why I set it out as a first priority.”

Rishi Sunak is interviewed by the BBC ahead of conference



Rishi Sunak refuses again to commit to HS2’s northern leg

The prime minister has refused again to clarify whether HS2 will reach Manchester, after The Independent revealed he is in talks with the chancellor about stopping the high speed rail line in Birmingham.

Rishi Sunak was asked repeatedly on Sunday morning whether phase two of the project would go ahead, and described this publication’s reporting as “speculation”.

“We have a project, we have spades in the ground and are getting on with it,” he said.

But, asked specifically whether the Birmingham to Manchester section will be built, the prime minister told the BBC: “I am not going to comment on further speculation.”

Watch a clip from the interview here:

Rishi Sunak dodges question on HS2 ahead of Tory party conference


Michael Gove: HS2 part of ‘rich mixture’, but you ‘don’t bake a cake with one ingredient’

Michael Gove refused to commit the government to building HS2 in full, insisting it is part of a “rich mixture” of levelling up measures, Archie Mitchell reports.

Amid intense speculation the Birmingham to Manchester segment of the high speed rail line is going to be cut, as first revealed by The Independent, the levelling up secretary said he is a “supporter of good transport links for the north”.

But he said levelling up is “about more than one project” and said ministers needed to help boost transport links between and within northern town and cities.

Mr Gove told Sky News: “Levelling up is about more than one project.

“What we need to do in order to level up is to invest in cities, but also in towns as we are doing.

“For example, everything from strengthening our universities through additional spending on research and development through the enterprise zones that we’ve created, all of these come together in a rich mixture, which enables levelling up.

“You don’t bake a cake with only one ingredient.”

Michael Gove is interviewed by Sky News ahead of Tory Party conference

(Getty Images)


Michael Gove: Cut taxes on work before the next election

Michael Gove has called for tax cuts before the next general election, expected next year, Archie Mitchell reports.

The levelling up secretary said he wants ministers to “cut taxes on work”, which would include income tax and national insurance reductions.

He told Sky News: “We should cut taxes on work. We should incentivize people to work harder and we should make sure that they are better rewarded for the enterprise, the effort and the endeavour that they put in.

“I would like to see the tax burden reduced before the next election.”

But Mr Gove said the government is “concentrating firstly on dealing with inflation”, as that is “the biggest tax cut there is”.

Mr Gove also pushed back against a suggestion that his party’s claim to be low tax was a “fantasy”. Watch the clip below.

File photo: Michael Gove

(PA Wire)

Michael Gove refutes Tory low tax claims are 'a fantasy'


Sunak unveils list of 55 ‘overlooked’ towns receiving £20m each for 10-year plan

More than 50 “overlooked” UK towns will each be given £20 million over a 10-year period to help regenerate high streets and tackle anti-social behaviour.

The prime minister said the new long-term vision for towns, backed by £1 billion of investment, was about putting “funding in the hands of local people” to improve their communities.

The Prime Minister said the UK’s towns had been ‘taken for granted’ by politicians in the past as he announced £1 billion of investment.


Nervous Tories implore PM to ‘ignore populist insanity’ and keep slim election hopes alive

This weekend will see the starting gun fired on the race for power at next year’s general election. But Mr Sunak risks being knocked off course by what is shaping up to be an almighty battle between the right of his party and the more moderates – urging him to ignore their “populist insanity”.

Full report:

This weekend’s Tory Party conference will see the starting gun fired on the race for power at next year’s general election. But Mr Sunak faces an almighty battle, write Kate Devlin and Adam Forrest


Analysis: Will Sunak convince the public he’s the man to fix the UK’s problems?

It was not supposed to be like this, writes Kate Devlin, from the Tory Party conference in Manchester.

His last party conference before the election should be Rishi Sunak’s chance to convince voters to give the Conservatives another shot at government.

Instead, he has arrived in Manchester under pressure from his own party - over tax, immigration and, of course, HS2.

The prime minister has been working on his conference speech for months.

His message will be an appeal to the public that he is the person to fix the long-term problems the country faces.

But with problems within his own party appearing to come home to roost, will that call be heard?

File photo: Rishi Sunak

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)


Badenoch: Leaving ECHR must be on the table

Rishi Sunak must be prepared to leave the ECHR if judges block his plan to deport migrants to Rwanda, the business secretary has said.

Kemi Badenoch, seen as a future leader of the Tory Party, told The Sunday Times that leaving the convention is “definitely something that needs to be on the table”.

David Cameron and Theresa May have flirted with leaving in the past but ultimately pulled back from doing so.

Kemi Badenoch

(PA Wire)


Blow for Rishi Sunak as Iceland boss donor quits party over ‘flip-flopping’ on big policies

The Conservative donor, one the party’s leading business supporters, said the Tories had “drifted out of touch” during the cost of living crisis and have shown an “inability to deliver”.

Adam Forrest reports:

Conservatives ‘out of touch’ on HS2 and net zero, says Richard Walker – who had hoped to stand as Tory candidate