Liz Truss has insisted there would be no energy rationing in the UK if she is chosen as prime minister next week – but her rival Rishi Sunak warned ‘we shouldn’t rule anything out’ as they faced off at the final leadership hustings in London tonight.
After walking out on stage to Change by Taylor Swift, the foreign secretary claimed there would be no new taxes if she took office.
In an indication that she will provide further support to households with nightmare energy costs, she suggested a priority would be to address costs in the form of a budget or a ‘fiscal event’.
However, her rival offered a less definitive answer on the issue of energy rationing following a warm-up video labelling himself the ‘underdog’.
Former Chancellor Mr Sunak – who came out to Blinding Lights by The Weeknd – said he made no promises as ‘the challenges that we face with this crisis are significant’.
Mr Truss suggested she wouldn’t be replacing much amid the cost of living crisis as she believes in ‘value for money’.
It comes after a leaked invoice suggested the refurbishment of the No 11 flat was planned to cost more than £200,000 – far exceeding the £30,000 annual public grant afforded to the prime minister to spend on living quarters.
Not all of the suggested works were taken up, and in the end the project is reported to have cost £112,549 inclusive of VAT.
Former independent ethics adviser Lord Geidt cleared Mr Johnson of breaching the Ministerial Code over the refurbishment after he settled the bill, originally paid for by the Conservative Party, out of his own pocket.
Items ordered by Mr Johnson for the flat included a £7,000 rug and 10 rolls of wallpaper costing £225 each, as well as a £3,675 drinks trolley, and two sofas worth more than £15,000.
Asked by LBC’s Nick Ferrari about the flat refurbishment, Ms Truss said: ‘All I can tell you is, first of all, I am from Yorkshire, so I do believe in value for money and not buying new things if you have already got things that are perfectly good to use.
‘Secondly, I think with the in-tray of issues that you have outlined earlier, I don’t think I am going to have time to think about the wallpaper or flooring.’
Mr Sunak also sought to separate himself from the controversial outgoing PM, saying he would set a ‘clear direction’ on ethics in government if elected.
The Conservative politician vowed to fill the post of ethics adviser left vacant by Lord Geidt’s resignation. He said: ‘We can’t constantly be on the wrong side [of ethical issues]’.
The hustings also saw Mr Sunak vow to ‘stop simply throwing money at the NHS’ and ‘actually reform it to get the more efficient health service that we need’.
Meanwhile, Ms Truss replied ‘yes’ when asked if she would stop smart motorways amid safety concerns.
Asked to reduce the childcare ratios for England and scrap business rates for nurseries, she said she wanted to be in touch with the member who suggested the proposals.
Voting in the Tory leadership contest closes at 5pm on Friday and the winner will be announced on Monday.
Mr Johnson and his successor will then go to Balmoral for the appointment of the new prime minister, rather than Buckingham Palace.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that either Ms Truss or Mr Sunak will be meeting the Queen in Scotland, rather than in London as is tradition.
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