Conservative leadership candidates coy on an emergency budget –

After recommendations at the weekend from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown that the government bring forward an emergency budget, the two leadership candidates remain coy on the issue.

Writing in the Observer yesterday, Brown said millions would be pushed “over the edge” if the government does not address the cost of living crisis.

“The reality is grim and undeniable: a financial timebomb will explode for families in October as a second round of fuel price rises in six months sends shock waves through every household and pushes millions over the edge.”

A report commissioned by the former Labour leader, and carried out by Professor Donald Hirsch from Loughborough University, found that 35 million people across the UK are at severe risk of fuel poverty in October which is “an unprecedented 49.6% of the population of the United Kingdom”.

Mr Brown has called for an emergency budget to be brought forward, and suggested that parliament should be recalled as a matter of urgency.

Echoing, Mr Brown’s claims, the  money-saving expert Martin Lewis has also warned that the increase in energy bills will be “simply unaffordable for millions of homes” and will be “frankly catastrophic”.

He told ITV news that the we need a “willingness to take action” to make sure that people in the UK “don’t face a choice between starving and freezing this winter”.

The debate around how to respond to the current cost of living crisis remains centre stage in the divide between the two candidates for the Conservative leadership.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Liz Truss recently said she would focus on “lowering the tax burden, not giving handouts”. But speaking to Radio 5 Live, the Truss supporting Penny Mordaunt  said that her candidate not actually ruling the idea out and that to think so was “over-interpreting” Truss’s words.

The former Conservative leadership candidate said: “There’ll be different things required for different people – there’s the package of support that’s already been put in place [and] Liz is looking at other measures.”

Truss’ challenger, Rishi Sunak meanwhile has said that Truss is  “simply wrong” to rule out more cost of living payments.  Mr Sunak has so far committed to cut VAT on fuel.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme this morning, Rishi Sunak’s campaign manager, Oliver Dowden said, “We have to be honest to people about the scale of the response that is required”.

Continuing he said, “I think you have seen already a willingness from him to have that scale of intervention.  Clearly the precise nature of what is required will depend on the exact level fo the energy cap when that is announced in due course.  I think it is right to tailor it to that level”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves the shadow chancellor are yet to finalise the party’s own official response to the forthcoming rise in energy prices.

Responding to Gordon Brown’s intervention, a spokesperson for the Labour Party said, “ We recognise that this is an emergency situation and that requires a response that matches the moment”.

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