Liz Truss has dismissed calls to get together with Boris Johnson and former chancellor Rishi Sunak to discuss the cost-of-living crisis and agree upon a support package before the Tory leadership contest concludes.
Describing it as “constitutionally, deeply undesirable” and a “kangaroo committee”, the frontrunner to replace Mr Johnson said she is concentrating on her work as foreign secretary.
It comes after Tony Danker, the director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said that the outgoing prime minister and the two contenders vying to replace him should get together to discuss more support for households.
He said they should “agree a common pledge to support people and help quell fears” as experts warned energy bills could top a devastating £3,500 from October and £4,000 by the spring.
But speaking in Darlington at event for Tory members, Ms Truss said: “First of all I am foreign secretary, and I am focusing my energy on dealing with the very serious foreign policy issues we face.
“We have a chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, we have a prime minister, who are in those jobs until September, and I think it will be constitutionally deeply undesirable to try and overrule them with a sort of made-up committee of those CBI, me and Rishi Sunak.”
She went on: “Nadhim Zahawi… is a fantastic chap. Boris Johnson has done a great job as prime minister, delivering Brexit, delivering on the Covid vaccine, standing up to Putin.
“They are capable people, capable of making these decisions. This kangaroo committee you’re proposing sounds bizarre”.
Mr Sunak, however, said he would happy to get in a room with his rival Ms Truss and the outgoing prime minister to talk about future support amid warnings about the cost of energy bills.
But he added: “If you only want to help these people with tax cuts — I’m struggling to see how it’s possible.
“So we can get in a room all you want, but at the end of the day that policy is not going to work. So if you can get Liz to change her mind on that when she talks to you I’m very happy to get in the room and we can hammer this out”.
Speaking at a No 10 reception earlier on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said he is “certain” that whoever wins the Tory leadership election on 5 September will want to make announcements about how they will “further help people” struggling to get by.
He added that he is “absolutely confident” that his successor will also have the “fiscal firepower and the headroom to continue to look after the people”.