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Tory Party conference – live: Sunak rules out tax cuts as Patel attacks attention-seeking Braverman

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 autumn 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.”


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

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



Suella Braverman is ‘drawing dividing lines to get attention’, says Priti Patel

Dame Priti Patel has described Suella Braverman’s controversial immigration speech as an attempt to draw “dividing lines” and “get attention” ahead of the next general election, Archie Mitchell reports.

The former home secretary accused her successor of making “interventions” that are not “a substitute for delivery”.

And Ms Patel warned ministers the public are “sick” or hearing about issues such as illegal immigration and the government’s “failure to deliver”.

“I think it’s right that everyone puts shoulder to the wheel and cracks on and does the work,” she added.

Her comments came after Ms Braverman faced a furious backlash for a speech in the US on immigration in which she claimed that fearing persecution over being gay or a woman is not enough to claim asylum.

File photo: Priti Patel

(PA Wire)


Operation Swooping Eagle: Tories ‘to spy on ministers’

The Conservatives will be sending “spies” to cabinet ministers’ speaking events to monitor any hint of leadership ambitions - including Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman - according to the Mail on Sunday.

Codenamed Operation Swooping Eagle, a party insider said it was to stop the leadership being “blindsided” by those on manoeuvres.

Badenoch and Braverman, both of whom have previously stood for the leadership, are viewed by some as potential successors to Rishi Sunak should the prime minister lose the next election.

File photo: Suella Braverman

(PA Wire)

File photo: Kemi Badenoch

(PA Wire)


PM: Shapps announcement on Ukraine not for ‘here and now’

Defence secretary Grant Shapps’s suggestion that British troops could train forces in Ukraine is not for the “here and now”, Rishi Sunak has said.

During a visit to Burnley, the prime minister told broadcasters: “I think there’s been some misreporting about this.”

He said British troops have been training Ukrainians in the UK, adding: “What the defence secretary was saying was that it might well be possible one day in the future for us to do some of that training in Ukraine.

“But that’s something for the long-term, not the here and now, there are no British soldiers that will be sent to fight in the current conflict. That’s not what’s happening.

“What we are doing is training Ukrainians. We’re doing that here in the UK. It’s something that everyone should be proud of, because it’s making an enormous difference. The Ukrainians are very grateful for it. And it’s something that lots of other countries have joined us in doing.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps (PA)

(PA Wire)


Michael Gove has praised HS2 as a “good idea” but warned the government had to ensure it was getting the “biggest bang for our buck” from all major investment projects, Kate Devlin reports.

He also told Times Radio "let’s wait and see" on the future of the high speed rail link north of Manchester, after The Independent revealed the prime minister was in talks to scrap it.

The levelling up secretary said:  "Let’s wait and see. And I think the critical thing is we’re already seeing significant infrastructure investment across the north. We’ve devoted billions of pounds already to improving transport links in the north of England."

"It [HS2] is a good idea. That’s why we’re still working hard and there are spades in the ground. As the Prime Minister pointed out earlier today, constructing the project. However, we also have to look at value for money. When HS2 was first conceived, the costs were significantly lower than they’ve subsequently turned out to be. And we have to look at every project in order to make sure that we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck".

(Getty Images)


'Rich’ Rishi Sunak shown wordcloud of how voters view him

The prime minister was confronted on Sunday morning with a word cloud summing up voters’ impressions of him, Archie Mitchell reports.

The biggest word by far was “rich”, with “rich people,” “the rich”, “money” and “wealth” all appearing prominently.

Rishi Sunak, who is often criticised over his wealth, was asked how he felt about the wordcloud.

“My job is to deliver to people,” he said.

Former investment banker Mr Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty, the daughter of an Indian tech billionaire, are worth £730m.



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'