If Liz Truss pushes ahead with her proposed tax cuts it will be an “electoral suicide note” for the Tory party, the deputy prime minister has warned.
Dominic Raab, a supporter of former chancellor Rishi Sunak, said it was wrong for Ms Truss to propose tax cuts and not lay out plans to protect people from the cost of living crisis.
Writing for The Times, Mr Raab said: “If we go to the country with an emergency budget in September that fails to measure up to the task in hand, voters will not forgive us as they see their living standards eroded and the financial security they cherish disappear before their eyes.
“Such a failure will read unmistakenly to the public like an electoral suicide note and, as sure as night follows day, see our great party cast into the impotent oblivion of opposition.”
Mr Raab added that the Truss campaign should be focusing on policies that “shield those people from the full force of the serious global economic headwinds we now face”.
Ms Truss – the frontrunner to win the Tory leadership – has said her priority is reducing the tax burden for Britons and there would be no “handouts” if she won the race for No 10.
It comes as her rival Mr Sunak, who labelled Ms Truss’ plan for tax cuts in an emergency budget as a “big bung” for large businesses and the better off, prepares to unveil new plans to deal with the cost of living crisis.
Mr Sunak will reportedly increase the £400 universal payment announced last year to help people with their gas and electricity bills, and will unveil new policies to help vulnerable people.
A source in the Truss camp told The Times that Mr Sunak’s plans were a “mammoth strategic U-turn”.
Meanwhile, the government was warned by business leaders that it must have “all hands to the pump” to address the crisis ahead of the autumn.
Tony Danker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), joined former prime minister Gordon Brown’s call for swift intervention to address rising energy costs.
Mr Danker said: “The economic situation people and businesses are facing requires all hands to the pump this summer.
“We simply cannot afford a summer of government inactivity while the leadership contest plays out followed by a slow start from a new prime minister and cabinet.
“The prime minister and chancellor should be taking the next few weeks to grip the emerging crisis and the planning required to tackle it. This will also give their successor – whomever that may be – the very best chance of getting quickly out of the blocks.”
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said Mr Johnson would be speaking to chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to ensure that support measures due to come into effect later in the year remained on track.
But the spokesman added that any further measures would be a matter for Mr Johnson’s successor once the Tory leadership contest concludes.
Additional reporting by PA