Back with a Vengeance: Truss Challenges Sunak’s £35 Billion Splurge in Explosive Comeback

Former Prime Minister Claims Conservative Government Lost its Way under Sunak’s Fiscal Reign

In a significant intervention since her removal from office, former Prime Minister Liz Truss has blasted PM Rishi Sunak over his spending decisions that allegedly soared £35 billion more than what she would have approved during her tenure, according to a report by The Telegraph.

In her forthcoming speech scheduled at the Institute for Government on Monday, nearly a year since her controversial mini-budget, Truss is set to advocate for a firmer stance on government expenditure. She alleges that the substantial fund allocations by Sunak towards public services during the last autumn and the recent spring budget were not judicious decisions. The former leader hints at a potential rift within the Conservative Party, questioning the existing government’s financial strategies.

Cabinet insiders revealed to The Telegraph that Sunak might need to manoeuvre savings to facilitate tax reductions before the forthcoming elections, an assertion that echoes the sentiments of Truss, who believes her spending plans would have been more conservative, saving billions.

According to Truss, holding spending down and avoiding new financial commitments during the coming review period would have been the prudent route to pursue. She pinpoints savings amounting to £13.6 billion in 2023-24 and £12.3 billion in 2024-25, which could have been realised by not sanctioning additional funds for sectors such as the NHS, schools, childcare, and defence. Truss is also critical of the decision to block her initiative to link welfare benefits with wages instead of prices, a move she claims would have saved £9.6 billion over two years.

However, Truss’s strategies faced opposition within the party, particularly over her firm stance on the spending review, which found little support among the parliamentary representatives. This friction hints at deeper divisions within the Conservative Party, with previous conflicts over leadership roles and policy directions re-emerging.

Describing Truss’s time in power as the “most catastrophic premiership in the history of the country”, a Cabinet source told The Telegraph that Truss is attempting to vindicate her tenure. Nevertheless, many within the party agree with the need for reductions in spending to facilitate essential tax cuts before the election, offering voters a substantial reason to support the Conservative cause.

Despite Truss’s controversial tenure, some Tory MPs commend her economic vision, pointing to a shift in the party’s leadership that seemingly echoes Labour’s stance. Calls for more controlled spending and lower taxes have resonated with several members, including veterans like Sir John Redwood and MP Craig Mackinlay.

Moreover, a revelation by The Telegraph unveils that Truss contemplated implementing a flat tax system, where all individuals would be taxed ata uniform rate of 20%, a scheme that promised to revolutionise the UK’s tax structure. This proposal, which was documented by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, would have also applied a 20% rate to corporation tax and capital gains tax, marking the most significant overhaul of the tax system in decades. Despite its ambitious nature, the proposal was shelved due to its substantial estimated cost of £41 billion, being deemed too radical by Truss’s then-Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng.

Further insights into these controversial decisions and the internal dynamics of the Conservative party are detailed in a new book titled “The Right to Rule” by The Telegraph’s political editor, Ben Riley-Smith. The book, which draws upon interviews with over 120 key figures, explores the strategies and dynamics that have sustained the Conservative party’s reign since 2010.

In her upcoming speech, Truss is also expected to highlight a paradigm shift in the UK’s economic framework over the past 25 years. She claims that the nation has transitioned from a free-market capitalist economy to a “corporatist social democracy”, with state spending now constituting a whopping 46% of the GDP. She will urge for a critical review and potential overhaul of this economic consensus to prevent further financial issues in the future.

Truss intends to rally support for her vision of a more fiscally restrained government, emphasising the need to reverse the trend of ballooning state expenditure. Her critical appraisal of Sunak’s financial policies and her vocal criticism of the party’s current trajectory are expected to stir debates and potentially reopen old wounds within the party.

However, this move has not been without its critics. David Davis, a former Cabinet minister, accused Truss of tarnishing the reputation of low-tax conservative policies through her earlier proposals. Meanwhile, a source within the Conservative Campaign Headquarters criticised Truss for failing to implement spending cuts and benefit reductions during her time as a leader, casting doubt on her newfound fiscal prudence stance.

As the political landscape continues to evolve, Truss’s remarks come at a critical juncture, possibly fuelling further debates on the government’s spending policies and the Conservative party’s direction as it heads towards the upcoming elections. Only time will tell whether her call for financial austerity will gain traction or deepen the divisions within a party grappling with its identity in changing times.

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