Brandon Lewis defends Liz Truss’s civil service pay U-turn as poll shows 34-point lead against Rishi Sunak – UK politics live | Politics


Lewis: ‘never the case’ that Truss intended to cut public sector pay

Good morning. The Conservative former Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, has attempted to defend Liz Truss by suggesting it was “never the case” that the Tory leadership contender had planned to cut public sector pay.

Lewis, who is backing Truss’s leadership bid, said “there was never any risk to the pay of the brilliant public sector” after the foreign secretary suffered a humiliating setback when she was forced into a U-turn on civil service pay after a backlash from within her own party.

Asked if her campaign was abandoning a flagship policy to slash £8.8bn from public sector pay outside London, he told Times Radio:

You do see during leadership campaigns obviously people putting out ideas – we’ve seen Rishi Sunak’s team have put out eight or nine different things that they’ve changed around.

The reality of yesterday is, what Liz was outlining was part of a package of dealing with Whitehall waste. We all want to see that dealt with, it’s part of a programme of work actually to get the civil service – it’s grown by about 91,000 just in the last few years, back down to levels where we’re using taxpayers’ money efficiently and effectively.

He added:

What Liz was looking at yesterday and what the campaign was looking at is what you do in new contracts as people come in, but look, she made it very clear yesterday, we’re not taking this forward, this isn’t something that’s going to happen and we value obviously all of the work – and there was never any risk to the pay of the brilliant public sector who’ve done so well through the Covid period and the challenges that we’ve seen over the last couple of years.

Lewis’s comments came as Truss and her rival, Rishi Sunak, prepare to face party members in a third set of Tory leadership hustings later today. A new YouGov poll suggests that almost nine in 10 Tory members have made up their mind about who to support, with 60% plumping for Truss and just 26% for Sunak despite a difficult week for Truss. Tonight’s event in Cardiff marks the first time either has visited Wales since the contest began.

Conservative members who were due to receive their postal ballot papers have been informed that the papers will arrive later than scheduled following security concerns and could arrive as late as 11 August.

An email on Tuesday evening said the papers, due to be sent out from Monday to about 160,000 Tory members, said:

Your ballot is now on the way – but it will arrive with you a little later than we originally said.

Please do not worry. This is because we have taken some time to add some additional security to our ballot process, which has delayed us slightly.

The announcement of the leadership contest result is due to take place on 5 September, which is expected to remain the same despite the delay.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, will hold a press conference to mark the launch of the second paper concerning the reform of Scotland and the UK.

Morning: Boris Johnson begins his summer holiday from today.

7pm: Tory leadership hustings in Cardiff.

I’ll be covering for Andrew Sparrow today. Do drop me a line if you have any questions or think I’ve missed anything. My email is leonie.chao-fong@theguardian.com or you can reach me on Twitter.

Key events

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Aubrey Allegretti

Some members of the LGBT+ Conservative group are questioning their future in the party amid concerns their rights are being weaponised during the leadership contest in a bid to pander to the “far right”.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have taken aim at “woke” issues during the course of the campaign and been accused of using these as “red meat” to whip up support among the party’s grassroots.

Although Truss was endorsed by Penny Mordaunt, who urged rivals not to fuel a culture war before she was knocked out of the race last month, the trade minister’s supporters have not followed suit en-masse.

Instead, some privately accused Mordaunt of “selling out” and putting the possibility of a cabinet job over her principles.

The prospect of either Truss or Sunak winning given the campaign has caused concern among several LGBTQ+ members.

Read the full article here.

Liz Truss has 34-point lead over Rishi Sunak, poll shows

A YouGov poll for The Times published last night showed that Liz Truss has a 34-point lead over her rival, Rishi Sunak, among Conservative party members.

The poll, which the paper said was conducted over the past five days, showed 60% support for Truss versus 26% for Sunak, with the remainder undecided. Almost nine in 10 Tory members have already made up their minds about who to vote for, it said.

The results of the poll suggest a significant widening of Truss’s lead. The last YouGov poll, carried out on 20 July, had support for Truss on 49% compared with 31% for Sunak. Truss is ahead of Sunak among all age groups, across different parts of the country and among men and women.

The poll also suggested that Boris Johnson would “easily beat” both Truss and Sunak if he were on the ballot paper, with widespread resentment among Conservative party members about the way he was ousted from office.

Asked if Truss believes that Taiwan should be supplied with defensive weapons, the Conservative former Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, said:

I think one of the things we’ve seen with Ukraine is the fact that it’s important that we are supporting sovereign democracies, that’s something we’ve got to do.

I think it is right that we in the West stay firm and strong against some of the pressures we see from (Vladimir) Putin’s regime, but also actually some of the challenges that we’re seeing from China, and, as somebody who’s been the security minister before, I’ve seen the growth in the economic power (and pressure) of China – it’s something that we need to be aware of.

As we mentioned earlier, the Conservative former Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, has spent the morning attempting to defend Liz Truss a day after she was forced to abandon the cornerstone of her plan for a “war on Whitehall waste” after a backlash within her own party.

Lewis has been speaking in the morning round of interviews, where he claimed Truss “made it very clear yesterday this is not a policy that is being taken forward”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

We saw yesterday a number of people extrapolating figures, talking about pay cuts for various people which was never the outline of the policy, and what Liz was looking at was part of a wider package.

Obviously what we do see during these campaigns is people setting out policies. We’ve obviously seen Rishi (Sunak) float ideas and then change around eight or nine times over the last couple of weeks.

He added:

What Liz was outlining yesterday is the wider package, the issue around dealing with waste in Whitehall… reducing the Civil Service, the 91,000 increase we’ve seen over the last period and making sure that money that is spent, taxpayers’ money is spent on frontline services.

But it was never about, at any point, reducing the pay of the public sector workers who’ve been so brilliant through Covid and the work over the last few years.

He also said:

The wording in there that’s important is the word ‘if’, that was not something that was ever proposed… Liz made it very clear yesterday this is not a policy that is being taken forward.

Lewis was also asked about relations with Scotland after the Tory leadership hopeful described the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, as an “attention seeker”.

Truss “has got huge credentials” on the issue of keeping the Union together, Lewis told Sky News.

He added:

We had a referendum, now we’re all a few years older, but there’s not been a generational change just yet, and that was always clear, and the SNP were, that that was a once-in-a-generation. That decision has been made. What we should all be focused on, including the SNP, is how we improve the lives of people in Scotland.

They’re failing them on education, I would argue the health service, and other areas of the economy as well. What Liz wants to do is make sure everybody across the UK and every part of the UK gets better education opportunities to take part in a better and stronger economy in the future.

Lewis: ‘never the case’ that Truss intended to cut public sector pay

Good morning. The Conservative former Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, has attempted to defend Liz Truss by suggesting it was “never the case” that the Tory leadership contender had planned to cut public sector pay.

Lewis, who is backing Truss’s leadership bid, said “there was never any risk to the pay of the brilliant public sector” after the foreign secretary suffered a humiliating setback when she was forced into a U-turn on civil service pay after a backlash from within her own party.

Asked if her campaign was abandoning a flagship policy to slash £8.8bn from public sector pay outside London, he told Times Radio:

You do see during leadership campaigns obviously people putting out ideas – we’ve seen Rishi Sunak’s team have put out eight or nine different things that they’ve changed around.

The reality of yesterday is, what Liz was outlining was part of a package of dealing with Whitehall waste. We all want to see that dealt with, it’s part of a programme of work actually to get the civil service – it’s grown by about 91,000 just in the last few years, back down to levels where we’re using taxpayers’ money efficiently and effectively.

He added:

What Liz was looking at yesterday and what the campaign was looking at is what you do in new contracts as people come in, but look, she made it very clear yesterday, we’re not taking this forward, this isn’t something that’s going to happen and we value obviously all of the work – and there was never any risk to the pay of the brilliant public sector who’ve done so well through the Covid period and the challenges that we’ve seen over the last couple of years.

Lewis’s comments came as Truss and her rival, Rishi Sunak, prepare to face party members in a third set of Tory leadership hustings later today. A new YouGov poll suggests that almost nine in 10 Tory members have made up their mind about who to support, with 60% plumping for Truss and just 26% for Sunak despite a difficult week for Truss. Tonight’s event in Cardiff marks the first time either has visited Wales since the contest began.

Conservative members who were due to receive their postal ballot papers have been informed that the papers will arrive later than scheduled following security concerns and could arrive as late as 11 August.

An email on Tuesday evening said the papers, due to be sent out from Monday to about 160,000 Tory members, said:

Your ballot is now on the way – but it will arrive with you a little later than we originally said.

Please do not worry. This is because we have taken some time to add some additional security to our ballot process, which has delayed us slightly.

The announcement of the leadership contest result is due to take place on 5 September, which is expected to remain the same despite the delay.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, will hold a press conference to mark the launch of the second paper concerning the reform of Scotland and the UK.

Morning: Boris Johnson begins his summer holiday from today.

7pm: Tory leadership hustings in Cardiff.

I’ll be covering for Andrew Sparrow today. Do drop me a line if you have any questions or think I’ve missed anything. My email is leonie.chao-fong@theguardian.com or you can reach me on Twitter.





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