LONDON: The governing Conservative Party can "kiss goodbye" to winning the next UK general election, due around 2024, unless soaring inflation is brought under control fast, Rishi Sunak has warned on the campaign trail to win the leadership election to become Tory leader and British Prime Minister.
The British Indian former Chancellor reiterated his previous alerts over leadership rival Liz Truss' policy pledge for around GBP 30 billion of immediate tax cuts as inflationary, which risked extending the ongoing economic crisis. Sunak has instead pitched his policy tent around tax cuts further down the line once inflation has been brought under control.
"I'm particularly worried about policies that risk making it worse and last longer," 42-year-old Sunak said during a campaign hustings event in Eastbourne on the south-east coast of England on Friday evening.
"Because this is a problem that isn't just for this winter. It's a problem for next winter as well, and beyond, because as the Bank of England said they are worried about inflation becoming embedded. Then there's no hope that we're going to win that next election. Absolutely none... And if we don't get a grip of this thing and get a grip of it fast, then we can kiss goodbye to winning that next election. So, the first thing to put ourselves in a position to win is to get through inflation and get through it quickly and not do things worse," he said.
Earlier this week, the Bank of England warned inflation – currently 9.4 per cent – could peak at more than 13 per cent and stay at ''very elevated levels'' throughout much of next year, before eventually returning to its 2 per cent target in 2024.
Truss, who has promised to reverse some of the tax rises put in place when Sunak was Chancellor, challenged the Bank of England's gloomy forecast. Her own speech at the hustings was briefly interrupted by protesters at the hustings as environmental protesters joined an action by the group Green New Deal Rising at the event, rising one by one from the audience to say loudly to the wannabe Prime Minister: "Liz Truss, you should be ashamed of yourself."
A live stream of the hustings on the Conservative Party website was briefly halted as the protesters were removed from the hall.
Both candidates are on an intense campaign trail up and down the UK to win over card-carrying Tory party member votes, to be cast by postal ballot or online by September 2. The results will be declared on September 5, when the new Conservative Party leader will immediately take charge at 10 Downing Street.