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Sajid supports Truss

The YouGov survey showed 60% of the party members polled between July 29 and August 2 said they intend to vote for the Foreign Secretary, with just 26% backing Sunak…reports Asian Lite News

Liz Truss’s bid to become the next prime minister was boosted on Tuesday evening after she won the backing of former rival Sajid Javid and polls suggested she had a massive lead over Rishi Sunak.

The Foreign Secretary won a 34-percentage point lead over Sunak in a YouGov poll of party members, before a survey for the ConservativeHome website put her 32 points ahead.

Javid, whose resignation as health secretary minutes triggered a cascade of resignations forcing Boris Johnson to quit as Tory leader, threw his support behind Truss.

He claimed that “tax cuts now are essential,” while Sunak has said tackling inflation is needed before tax cuts.

A former chancellor, Javid also warned in an article for the Times that the nation risks “sleepwalking into a big-state, high-tax, low-growth, social democratic model which risks us becoming a middle-income economy by the 2030s”.

“If we can renew our government with a bold agenda, the Conservatives can still beat Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP at the next election – and the evidence suggests Liz is the best-placed candidate to do so,” he added.

His backing of Truss came shortly before the latest hustings of Tory members at an event in Cardiff on Wednesday evening.

The YouGov survey showed 60% of the party members polled between July 29 and August 2 said they intend to vote for the Foreign Secretary, with just 26% backing Sunak.

The poll of 1,043 Conservative Party members indicates just 11% do not know who they will vote for, while 2% said they will not take part in the contest.

A further indication of Truss’s commanding lead came with a survey of 1,003 members by the ConservativeHome website, which had 58% backing her to Sunak’s 26%.

The Truss campaign said in a statement that the former Health Secretary’s endorsement was a sign she was uniting the party.

“His support signals that Liz is bringing the party together and they’re uniting behind her bold plan to cut taxes, grow the economy and deliver for the country,” said a spokesperson.

However, her campaign has suffered some setbacks in recent days after she abandoned a pledge to cut the public sector wage bill by paying workers in cheaper areas of the country less than in more expensive parts – claiming it had been “misrepresented”.

Critics of the plan had claimed it would go against the Government’s levelling up agenda by cutting wages in more deprived areas of the country, although Truss insisted it was never meant to impact people’s current pay rates.

Under questioning during a leadership hustings of Tory members in Cardiff, Truss insisted the plan was never intended to apply to doctors, nurses and teachers.

Asked who had got the policy wrong, she said: “The media.”

Sunak welcomed her U-turn, saying it would have meant “almost half a million workers in Wales getting a pay cut”.

The Foreign Secretary renewed her attacks on Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during the hustings after labelling her demands for an independence referendum as attention seeking.

She went on to criticise Wales’s Mark Drakeford as a “low-energy version of Jeremy Corbyn”, and called Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer a “plastic patriot”.

The first postal votes in the contest were due to be submitted this week, but the party delayed sending ballots out following advice from cyber security experts.

The party has made changes to its process on the advice of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ, following warnings that hackers could change members’ votes.

The ballots had been due to be sent out from Monday but could now arrive as late as Thursday August 11.

Clash over tax plans

Sunak launched a fresh attack on Truss’s plans for tax cuts ahead of their next debate on Thursday.

Sunak said his rival in the Conservative leadership race would further drive up interest rates, raising mortgage payments, with her plans, reports dpa news agency.

His warning came as the Bank of England was forecast to raise interest rates to the highest level in nearly three decades on Thursday, from 1.25 per cent to 1.75 per cent.

An announcement by the central is scheduled for midday, with experts warning that inflation could peak at 15 per cent, adding to the already painful cost-of-living crisis with spiralling prices.

Meanwhile, the pair are also due to face off in a head-to-head debate on Sky News on Thursday evening.

Sunak has faced attacks from Truss for overseeing rising taxes while in No 11 during the pandemic, as she pledges a more radical plan to slash them.

He has insisted he does want to see taxes come down, but argues it is necessary to bring inflation under control before making major changes.

The former Chancellor stressed there are “crucial differences” between their plans “because timing is everything”.

“If we rush through premature tax cuts before we have gripped inflation all we are doing is giving with one hand and then taking away with the other,” he said in a statement.

“That would stoke inflation and drive up interest rates, adding to people’s mortgage payments. And it would mean every pound people get back in their pockets is nothing more than a down payment on rising prices. A policy prospectus devoid of hard choices might create a warm feeling in the short term, but it will be cold comfort when it lets Labour into Number 10 and consigns the Conservative Party to the wilderness of opposition.”

Truss countered by saying “we cannot tax our way to growth” and insisting her plans would not drive up prices further. My economic plan will get our economy moving by reforming the supply side, getting EU regulation off our statute books, and cutting taxes,” she said.

“Delivering bold reforms to the supply side is the way we’ll tackle inflation in the long run and deliver sustainable growth. Modest tax cuts, including scrapping a potentially ruinous corporation tax rise that hasn’t even come into force, are not inflationary.”

Thursday’s debate follows a previous head-to-head last week, held on TalkTV on July 26, which was halted after presenter Kate McCann fainted off-camera while Truss was speaking.

McCann later said she was feeling “a little embarrassed, a little bit bruised, but glad to be back and totally fine”.

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Sajid returns as UK health secretary

Matt Hancock has been under pressure to quit after The Sun newspaper published pictures of him and his aid violating social distancing norms at the British Department of Health’s London HQ, reports Asian Lite News

Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid has been appointed health secretary after the resignation of Matt Hancock, Downing Street said.

Javid previously served as home secretary from 2018 to 2019 and then as chancellor of the exchequer until February last year, when he was succeeded by Rishi Sunak.

Hancock resigned Saturday after admitting that he broke the Covid-19 social distancing guidelines during alleged affair with his aide, which reportedly caused an outrage in the country.

In his resignation letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Hancock said that “we owe it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance. The last thing I would want is for my private life to distract attention from the single-minded focus that is leading us out of this crisis.”

Hancock also posted a video on his Twitter account, in which he said “those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them, and that’s why I have got to resign.”

Hancock has been under increasing pressure to quit after The Sun newspaper on Friday published pictures of him and his aid Gina Coladangelo kissing at the British Department of Health’s London HQ reportedly during office hours in May.

Hancock’s resignation came after embarrassing footage emerged of the health secretary in a clinch with his aide Coladangelo on May 6, when the public were still being advised not to hug people outside their household, a newspaper reported.

Javid said his top priority is ending the pandemic and getting the country back to normal. “We are still in a pandemic and I want to see that this comes to an end as soon as possible and that will be my most immediate priority to see that we can return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible,” he told Sky TV in London.

“I think Matt Hancock worked incredibly hard and he achieved a lot and he will have more to offer,” Javid told Sky.

“Honoured to have been asked to serve as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care at this critical time. I look forward to contributing to our fight against the pandemic, and serving my country from the Cabinet once again,” Javid tweeted after being appointed. Javid was forced to quit after reported tensions between him and Dominic Cummings PM Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser. At the time, PM Johnson had attached conditions for Javid to continue his position as finance minister. Javid was asked to fire his political advisers, which he refused to do.

“So Carrie appoints Saj! NB If I hadn’t tricked PM into firing Saj, we’d have had a HMT with useless SoS/spads, no furlough scheme, total chaos instead of JOINT 10/11 team which was a big success. Saj = bog standard = chasing headlines + failing = awful for NHS. Need #RegimeChange,” Cummings tweeted, indicating that PM Johnson’s wife Carrie Symonds played a role in the decision to appoint Javid as the new health secretary.

Javid faces challenges ahead as cases started to rise last month. Javid will help the NHS (National Health Service, which has been at the forefront in handling Covid-19 cases) recover from the pandemic and dealing with any future infection waves.

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