Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss compete for Tory members’ support in Cheltenham leadership hustings – as it happened

Last modified: 08: 36 PM GMT+0

The two candidates are bidding for support from Conservative party members ahead of the final vote for the next PM

A summary of today's developments

  • In the latest hustings in Cheltenham, Liz Truss has warned the UK is in “real danger” of “talking ourselves into a recession” as she defended her plans to cut taxes. But Rishi Sunak criticised Truss’s approach as he said that he is not willing to “pursue policies that risk making inflation far worse and last far longer”.

  • Truss again criticised the media, two days after apologising for criticising the media during the last hustings. The foreign secretary also pledged to “reform the BBC licence fee and I certainly think it is completely wrong that so many women are in jail for non-payment of it”.

  • Asked why he believed Tory MP Chris Skidmore had defected from his campaign to Truss’s, Sunak pointed out he “led in every single round” of the parliamentary stage of the contest. The former chancellor said: “We are only half way through this thing. I am going to fight until the last day with everything I have got because I am fighting for what I believe in.”

  • Rishi Sunak frustrated government attempts to realise benefits of Brexit, Liz Truss allies claim.

  • Number of patients waiting more than 12 hours in A&E in England was up 33% in July from the previous month. A record 29,317 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in July from a decision to admit to actually being admitted.

  • Hospital waiting lists in England reach a record high of 6.7 million. The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen above previous records.

  • Wes Streeting accuses Tory leadership contenders of ignoring “biggest crisis in NHS’s history”. Streeting, the shadow health secretary, accused Truss and Sunak of ignoring what he called “the biggest crisis in the NHS’s history”. He posted this in response to the latest performance figures from NHS England.

  • Energy bosses start talks with Nadhim Zahawi and Kwasi Kwarteng. The bosses of some of the UK’s biggest energy companies have started a meeting with the chancellor and the business secretary, who are expected to pressure them to invest in green energy rather than payouts for shareholders.

  • Gordon Brown’s call for nationalisation as a possible solution to energy bills crisis receives mixed reception. The former Labour prime minister has used an article in today’s Guardian to propose that the government should halt the increases in the energy price cap planned for later this year and next year and, if necessary, take energy companies into public ownership to ensure that they keep prices down.

  • Suella Braverman got £10,000 from climate sceptic for Tory leadership campaign, while Tom Tugendhat raised £120,000, first donation records show.

  • Boris Johnson tells energy bosses it will be up to his successor to decide any new announcements on energy bills. Downing Street has released its readout of what happened at the meeting with energy company bosses this morning. Boris Johnson joined the meeting, which was originally just meant to be hosted by Zahawi and Kwarteng.


And that brings the hustings in Cheltenham to an end.

Scrapping the independence of the Bank of England would be “a massive mistake”, according to Sunak.

He said: “I’m very nervous about things I hear elsewhere; about people who seem to think that from Liz’s camp and her that we should scrap Bank of England independence.

“I think that would be a massive mistake for our country and international investors would not look very highly on it at all.”


Sunak was told that as someone who went to a private school he had been afforded opportunities that many people would never have access to.

The former chancellor replied: “Yes I have and … I am not going to apologise for what my parents did for me, you must be joking.”


Earlier, Truss criticised the media, two days after apologising for criticising the media during the last hustings.

She said: “Today we’re sponsored by the Telegraph, and I would love the media to spend more time talking about trade deals.”

Following an interjection by the paper’s Camilla Tominey reminding her “you have written for us about trade deals”, the foreign secretary said: “I have written for you on trade deals.

“But the point is that trade deals open the doors for business, but then we need to help businesses actually get their product into market.

“We set up the exports support service to help do that, but I would love to see the press write about that rather than about political rows.”

Asked if he had spoken to Boris Johnson since he quit as chancellor, Sunak said: “I have messaged and called but unsurprisingly he hasn’t returned my calls.”

Asked how he would help families dealing with rising energy bills, Sunak cited his proposed cut to VAT on energy bills .

He said he would also bring forward help for the most vulnerable and pensioners.

Asked what specifically he could do for those groups, Sunak said he would provide “direct financial support to those groups of people”.

He warned that Liz Truss’s plan of favouring tax cuts instead of direct support could “leave millions of incredibly vulnerable people at the risk of real destitution”.

Now it is Sunak’s turn for some questions.

Asked why he believed Tory MP Chris Skidmore had defected from his campaign to Truss’s, Sunak pointed out he “led in every single round” of the parliamentary stage of the contest.

The former chancellor said: “We are only half way through this thing. I am going to fight until the last day with everything I have got because I am fighting for what I believe in.”


Truss, who says she will not have an election before 2024, has dismissed suggestions she might be modelling herself on Margaret Thatcher, insisting: “I am my own person.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of Mrs Thatcher, but we live in different times.”

Answering questions from the public, Truss said “I absolutely don’t support” a windfall tax on oil and gas firms.


Truss was asked what she would consider success to be after her first 90 days in Downing Street if she wins.

She said she would want to show that the UK is “moving in the right direction” and that pressures on household finances are “being reduced”.

The foreign secretary said she would also want to see evidence of growing investment in the UK and to “get a grip” of NHS waiting lists.

Will she scrap the BBC licence fee, Truss replied: “I will reform the BBC licence fee and I certainly think it is completely wrong that so many women are in jail for non-payment of it.”

Truss also vowed to keep the net zero pledge.


Truss was asked a series of yes/no questions.

On cutting foreign aid, she said: “I will keep it as it is.”

Leave the ECHR: “If we need to, but I’d rather legislate through the British Bill of Rights.”

Will she sack 91,000 civil servants: “I will certainly reduce the size of the civil service over time.”

Truss was asked if she is the sort of politician who changes her position to suit her ambitions having been a Lib Dem and also supported Remain before becoming a Brexiteer.

Truss replies she was “pretty equivocal at the time” on Brexit in the run up to the 2016 referendum and she “wasn’t sure”.

She said she was “concerned about potential disruption” of leaving the EU.

Truss insists she is “low tax, pro growth, pro opportunity” and she wants to ensure the UK is open for business.

Asked if she is therefore “low tax and high borrowing” to pay for it, she said: “My tax cuts... will cost £30 billion. That is affordable within our current budget... I am afraid to say the plans of raising taxes are likely to lead to a recession...”


Truss said there is a “real danger of us talking ourselves into a recession”.

Asked if he she is for or against “handouts” to help with energy bills, she said “my first preference is always to reduce taxes” but stressed she cannot write or announce the contents of a budget now.


We now move onto the questions.

Truss is asked how she would lower people’s energy bills.

She said her starting point would be helping people through tax cuts and that we “shouldn’t be taking money off people in taxes and then giving it back as benefits”.

On tackling inflation, Sunak said: “We have seen this story before. Inflation is the enemy that makes everyone poorer.”

On Liz Truss’s tax cutting pledges and plan for the economy, the former chancellor said: “What I will not do is pursue policies that risk making inflation far worse and last far longer...”

Sunak said his three main goals as Tory leader would be to “restore trust”, “rebuild the economy” and “reunite our country”.

Sunak begins with an anecdote that a woman had recently asked him about his “relationship with the prime minister” as she told him he was very different to Boris Johnson.

Sunak said the lady had told him: “He [Johnson’] looks like he has lost his hairbrush but you look like your mum brushed your hair...”

Alex Chalk, the former solicitor general and Tory MP for Cheltenham, is introducing Rishi Sunak on stage.


Truss reiterates she would extend the government’s Rwanda asylum seeker plan to more countries.

The foreign secretary added she will “make sure that British legislators cannot be overruled by the ECHR, I will legislate for that”.

The foreign secretary tells the audience reversing a hike to National Insurance is the right thing to do.

She said that “we should never have done it... we can still afford to pay for the NHS and social care out of general taxation...”.

Truss added she decided to stop a planned increase to corporation tax because “fundamentally I am a Conservative” and she believes that people should be allowed to keep more of their own money.

Truss begins by saying she has a “dark secret” which is she used to be a member of the Liberal Democrats, which she has disclosed before in hustings.

She said she learnt that “they do not share my principles”.

Pledging to not let the Lib Dems gain more councils across the country, Truss said she will “re-establish the Liberal Democrat unit at CCHQ to ensure a crackdown to stop that from happening”.

Brandon Lewis, the former Northern Ireland secretary, introduces Liz Truss onto the stage.

Peter Booth, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Board, said all Tory members should have received their ballot paper by today.

The posting of the ballots had been delayed following security concerns last week.

The hustings is now underway in Cheltenham with the introductory speeches.

Away from the hustings, MPs received almost 70,000 worth of free tickets to concerts and sporting events this summer, including gigs by Ed Sheeran and Adele and the British Grand Prix.

An update to the MPs’ Register of Interests revealed 10 MPs were treated to tickets worth thousands of pounds to the Grand Prix at Silverstone.

MPs given tickets to the Grand Prix included defence secretary Ben Wallace, whose two tickets worth 1,516 were provided by Motorsport UK, and former minister Dame Andrea Leadsom, who received two tickets worth a total of 2,600 from Silverstone Circuits itself.

Crawley MP Henry Smith recorded the single most valuable hospitality declaration, with Emirates Airlines paying 4,248 for two tickets to the Grand Prix.

Other Cabinet ministers to receive hospitality included work and pensions secretaryTherese Coffey, who was given a ticket to an Ed Sheeran concert at Wembley by the Betting and Gaming Council, and Treasury chief secretary Simon Clarke, who received hospitality at Wimbledon worth 1,250 from the Lawn Tennis Association.

Due to the number of people attending, the start of the hustings has been delayed until 7:15pm.

Labour MPs have called for parliament to be recalled to address the cost-of-living crisis.

MPs including John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler have signed a letter demanding a recall, alongside Labour peers including Shami Chakrabarti and Bryn Davies.

The letter, address to the prime minister, leader of the opposition and the Commons and Lords speakers said it would be “imperative” for the government to act in the wake of the coming Ofgem price cap announcement.


Latest Conservative hustings at 7pm

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will go head-to-head in Cheltenham in around 15 minutes, you can follow all of the action here.


Councils have called for clarity around the spending of money raised from the soft drinks sugar levy, saying it should be used to tackle physical inactivity and ensure a Commonwealth Games legacy.

The levy, designed to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, has raised around £1.2bn since its introduction.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for the money to be invested in council-run initiatives to boost physical activity and “find the sporting champions of the future” as the country celebrates the success of the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 football victory and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Only 45% of children are meeting the chief medical officer’s guidelines of one hour of physical activity a day, according to a government report, with data collected by councils also revealing rates of childhood obesity remain above their pre-pandemic levels.

A government spokesperson said: “We have gone above and beyond by spending hundreds of millions more than the levy’s actual revenue directly on programmes to help children get active and eat healthy.

“This funding has expanded the national school breakfast programme, the holiday activities and food programme, and the PE and sport premium for primary schools.”


The shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, has been found to have breached the MPs’ code of conduct by inadvertently failing to register a total of 16 interests on time.

The parliamentary standards commissioner, Kathryn Stone, said she found “no intention to mislead”, and that Lammy made the breach “as a result of inattention to detail”.

A referral to the standards committee was not necessary, Stone said.

In a letter to the commissioner, the shadow foreign secretary offered his “sincere apologies” for the late submissions, saying he was “thoroughly embarrassed” by the accidental breaches, which were “genuine oversights resulting from administrative errors on my behalf”.

He told Stone the register would now feature on the agenda at his weekly team meetings, with his head of office and executive assistant having separate regular catch-ups on the issue.

Lammy also promised to set reminders in his team calendar to “check and submit standard returns”.




Alex Lawson has compiled a list of all the executives from Britain’s largest energy companies the prime minister met to discuss the soaring cost of energy bills for UK households.

Boris Johnson met executives from some of Britain’s biggest energy companies on Thursday to discuss the cost of living crisis.

Johnson was flanked by the chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, and the business and energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng. Zahawi said afterwards that the energy firms agreed to “do more to help the people who most need it” – but did not specify what that would entail.

The executives were from power-generation companies – which own assets including windfarms and nuclear power stations – rather than the oil and gas companies hit by the windfall tax, officially known as the energy profits levy, after raking in bumper profits caused in part by the war in Ukraine.

However, there is a lingering threat that the levy may be extended to electricity generation companies amid accusations that they have also enjoyed a bonanza from high energy prices.

You can read the full report here:


Fleur Anderson, the shadow paymaster general, has said the Conservatives have shown “they can’t be trusted with civil contingencies”.

Anderson added:

This Conservative government’s abject failure to adequately prepare for wildfires is a dereliction of duty that is putting lives at risk.

The threat of wildfires has been recognised on the national risk register for nearly a decade, yet the government’s resilience planning has been nothing short of woeful.

Tory cuts to our fire services and their failure to plan for wildfires puts lives at risk.

Labour has a plan to boost Britains resilience and take climate action. https://t.co/C6FjrwKIjG

— Fleur Anderson MP (@PutneyFleur) August 11, 2022


Labour has accused the Tories of putting “the smoke alarm on snooze” and having been “asleep at the wheel”, in response to the intense droughts and extreme heat the UK has been facing.

The opposition party has also said that the government has not yet published its national resilience strategy, set to cover “environmental hazards” including heatwaves, despite a consultation to shape the plan closing some 10 months ago.

The party has now set out its own proposals for a “more resilient Britain”, including a “whole-system approach” to preparing for national emergencies.

PA reports:

This would involve creating a new Cabinet sub-committee on national resilience, Labour said.

The party would also conduct an urgent review of the UK’s emergency Cobra committee, and appoint a minister for resilience within the Cabinet Office to coordinate department-wide responses.

Separately, Labour would “overhaul” local resilience forums, introducing “clear accountability”, new training standards for officials, and formal inspections.

And it would implement a “whole-of-society approach to resilience”, bringing on board businesses and volunteer groups for national planning.

The defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has said that Vladimir Putin is unlikely to succeed in occupying Ukraine.

Speaking at a joint conference pledging more funds to Ukraine, Wallace said it was important to understand that fighting and loss of life was still taking place, but added Russia was “starting to fail in many areas”.

They have failed so far and are unlikely to ever succeed in occupying Ukraine.

“Their invasion has faltered and constantly been re-modified to the extent they are really only focusing in parts of the south and in the east, a long, long way away from their three-day so-called special operation. Three days are now over 150 days and nearly six months in, with huge significant losses of both equipment and indeed Russian personnel.

The defence secretary had earlier said:

President Putin will have gambled that come August, come a few months in we will have all got bored of the conflict and the international community would have gone off in different directions. Well, today is proof of the opposite.

“We have come out of this meeting with more pledges of finance, more pledges of training and more pledges of military aid, all designed to help Ukraine win, to help Ukraine stand up for its sovereignty and indeed to ensure that President Putin’s ambitions fail in Ukraine as they rightly should.


The Conservatives are under pressure to clarify whether they will hand back about £500,000 of donations from a company linked to a Venezuelan-Italian banker charged with conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud in the US.

Rowena Mason reports:

Labour questioned whether the party should give back cash donated since 2019 by Britannia Financial Services, which was founded by Julio Herrera Velutini.

Herrera Velutini was charged by the US Department of Justice with conspiracy, federal programmes bribery and honest services wire fraud in relation to an election in Puerto Rico in 2020, according to a press release on 4 August.

The charges relate to allegations that Herrera Velutini and another man, through intermediaries, offered campaign funding to a candidate to be Puerto Rico governor in exchange for her promising to appoint a new financial regulator. A bank owned by Herrera Velutini was at the time under examination by the Puerto Rico financial regulator.

A new Ipsos poll has revealed that the public believe that a Labour government led by Keir Starmer is more likely to deliver in 12 out of 13 areas, which includes acting with integrity, improving public services, and growing the economy.

The only area in which, according to the poll, the conservatives led by Truss are more likely to deliver is reducing taxes.

NEW from @IpsosUK: Public think a Labour govt led by Starmer more likely than a Con govt led by Truss to deliver in 12 / 13 areas.

Biggest leads for Starmer's Labour on improving public services (+13), reducing NHS waiting times (+12), levelling up (+12), fresh start (+10) pic.twitter.com/UYF2PnazNy

— Keiran Pedley (@keiranpedley) August 10, 2022

More from @IpsosUK: same picture when comparing a Sunak led Con govt to a Starmer led Lab govt pic.twitter.com/V8m1oTWJ9C

— Keiran Pedley (@keiranpedley) August 10, 2022

Plaid Cymru’s restoration of the whip to an MP who was cautioned by police after assaulting his wife has caused anger, with a former leader joining in the criticism, Ben Quinn reports.

Jonathan Edwards, who had been sitting as an independent since he was arrested on suspicion of assault, will again be able to represent the nationalist party at Westminster following his suspension in July 2020.

Leanne Wood, who led Plaid Cymru until September 2018 and had called for Edwards to be banned from the party if it was serious about stamping out misogyny and domestic abuse, reacted by tweeting: “Disappointed, yes. Disillusioned, never. The fight against the scourge of misogyny in Welsh politics continues.”

Edwards, the MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, was allowed to rejoin Plaid Cymru last month as a regular member, a move that has already caused division among its members. The decision to readmit him to the Westminster group was taken despite a “significant majority” of the party’s ruling body recommending against it.

You can read the full report below:

Liz Truss has said that as foreign secretary she has taken a “strong stand in tackling antisemitism at the international level” as foreign secretary. In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, she stressed her pro-Israeli stance, and suggested her views were not supported by all her officials at the Foreign Office. She said:

Every organisation has its culture, but it’s not fixed, it can be changed.

That’s what ministerial leadership is about: it’s about making sure that the policies we represent, the values we stand for, are reflected in what we do. I’ve been very clear with our officials about the positions we take on Israel, and that will continue if I become prime minister.

Truss was referring in particular to her opposition to Britain backing pro-Palestinian resolutions at the UN human rights council which she saw as too critical of Israel.

That is all from my for today. My colleague Tobi Thomas is taking over now.

Rishi Sunak has been campaigning today in Westminister North and Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham, in London. This is from Tony Devenish, a Conservative member of the London assembly.

Great to welcome @RishiSunak to @WNCons & @KCFConservative yesterday. @Ready4Rishi pic.twitter.com/IhI92IjGUQ

— Tony Devenish (@Tony_Devenish) August 11, 2022

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, has criticised the government for failing to announce any extra help for people with energy bills following the meeting chaired by the PM today. (See 1.59pm.) Davey said:

It is appalling that the Conservatives still haven’t announced any extra support for families and pensioners facing the hardest winter in decades.

The cruellest element of this chaos is that those who could actually help, [Liz] Truss and [Rishi] Sunak, are more interested in speaking to their party than taking the action our country needs.

That is why the Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to cancel the energy price hike to avoid a country-wide catastrophe.

Ed Davey
Ed Davey. Photograph: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images


Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, has escalated his attack on the Tory leadership candidates for ignoring the problems facing the NHS. (See 11.08am.) In an interview on Radio 4’s World at One, he said they were living in a “fantasy world”. He said:

These latest figures reflect the biggest crisis in the NHS’s history and what really concerns me is that within that 6.73 million backlog that the NHS now has will also be undiagnosed conditions like cancer that will often be detected during the diagnostic or screening or treatment process for other conditions.

Given this is the biggest crisis in the NHS’s history, I find it extraordinary that the two candidates vying to be the next Conservative prime minister are living in a fantasy world where the NHS is barely getting a mention and when it does it is often through the prism of absurd gimmicks that fail to live up to the scale of the challenge.

Wes Streeting visiting an ambulance control room in London last month.
Wes Streeting visiting an ambulance control room in London last month. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA


Boris Johnson has tweeted about his meeting with energy bosses.

I know people are worried about the difficult winter ahead, which is why we are providing support – including a £400 energy bill discount for all households.

This morning I urged electricity companies to continue working on ways to help with the cost of living. pic.twitter.com/sdpLrKfcTN

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 11, 2022

Johnson tells energy bosses it will be up to his successor to decide any big new announcements on energy bills

Downing Street has released its readout of what happened at the meeting with energy company bosses this morning. Boris Johnson joined the meeting, which was originally just meant to be hosted by Nadhim Zahawi, the chancellor, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary.

All three cabinet ministers stressed the importance of energy companies “investing in North Sea oil and gas, renewables, biomass and nuclear to strengthen our domestic energy security”, according to No 10.

Zahawi also told the meeting that the government was monitoring “the extraordinary profits seen in certain parts of the electricity generation sector and the appropriate and proportionate steps to take”, Downing Street said. But, as we reported this morning, the prospect of the windfall tax being beefed up seems to have faded, after the Liz Truss camp kiboshed the idea.

At the meeting Johnson also told the energy bosses that it would be up to his successor to make any “significant fiscal decisions”. That means any big decisions about energy bills will have to wait until September.

My colleague Jasper Jolly has more on the meeting on the business live blog.


The UK will send more weapons to Ukraine to help it defend against Russia’s invasion, Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, has announced.

Wallace said more multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) will be sent to the eastern European nation, as well as precision-guided M31A1 missiles which can strike targets up to 50 miles away, designed to defend against Russian heavy artillery.

In a statement, Wallace said:

This latest tranche of military support will enable the armed forces of Ukraine to continue to defend against Russian aggression and the indiscriminate use of long-range artillery.

Our continued support sends a very clear message: Britain and the international community remain opposed to this illegal war and will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, providing defensive military aid to Ukraine to help them defend against Putin’s invasion.


Braverman got £10,000 from climate sceptic for Tory leadership campaign, while Tugendhat raised £120,000, first donation records show

Suella Braverman received £10,000 from a company owned by a leading climate sceptic to support her campaign for the Conservative leadership, according to the most recent update to the register of MPs’ interests.

As PA Media reports, the figures also show that Tom Tugendhat received more than £120,000 to fund his leadership bid.

MPs have 28 days from accepting a donation to declare it to the parliamentary standards commissioner and so some of the candidates in the contest have revealed little or nothing yet about the funding they have received. But PA Media has summarised what declarations have been declared.

Braverman, the attorney general, has declared a donation of £10,000 from First Corporate Consultants Ltd, which is owned by the Bristol Port owner Terence Mordaunt. Mordaunt chaired the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) between 2019 and 2021. The GWPF has been vocal in its opposition to climate crisis policies such as net zero and was sanctioned by the Charity Commission in 2014 for failing to adhere to rules on “balance and neutrality”.

Tugendhat raised more than £120,000 for his leadership bid. Some £42,673 came from a company called Policy Focus Ltd, founded on 27 June, less than two weeks before the leadership campaign began.

Companies House records show Policy Focus is owned by property developers Christian Sweeting and Robert Luck. Sweeting previously donated £10,000 to the Conservative Party in 2018, PA reports.

Tugendhat also received £50,000 from the long-time Tory donor Ian Mukherjee and £25,000 from Beacon Rock Ltd, owned by former Conservative Party treasurer Sir Michael Davis. Another £6,000 came from business consultancy InvestUK Group.

Rishi Sunak has declared the donation of office space, valued at £3,195.

Kemi Badenoch raised £12,500 to support her leadership bid, the records show. The former equalities minister received £10,000 from Longrow Capital, owned by tech-focused investor Dave Maclean. She also received £2,500 from Joanne Black, for whom no further details are available

Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt, Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi are yet to declare any financial support for their campaigns.


Gordon Brown's call for nationalisation as possible solution to energy bills crisis receives mixed reception

Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, has used an article in today’s Guardian to propose that the government should halt the increases in the energy price cap planned for later this year and next year and, if necessary, take energy companies into public ownership to ensure that they keep prices down.

Alongside the Lib Dem plan, with which it has some similarities (they also want a price cap freeze, and more money raised through a windfall tax), it is the most radical and ambitious proposal on the table to tackle the energy bills crisis.

Some commentators have reacted very positively. This is from Steve Richards, the writer and journalist, and author of a book on the Brown premiership.

Out of office since 2010 Gordon Brown is the change maker in British politics: https://t.co/tZIpOV0nLr

— steve richards (@steverichards14) August 10, 2022

This is from the Scotsman’s Alexander Brown.

Gordon Brown has come up with more (1) solutions and support packages to address the cost-of-living crisis than the actual prime minister and two candidates to replace him (0)

— Alexander Brown (@AlexofBrown) August 10, 2022

Labour figures have been generally been enthusiastic about Brown’s proposal. These are from Andrew Fisher, who was head of policy for Jeremy Corbyn and is certainly no Brownite.

Some thoughts on Gordon Brown's proposals:

Brown is right to say Government should “pause any further increase in the cap”, and then negotiate separate company agreements to keep prices down after examining profit margins and available social tariffs.

— Andrew Fisher (@FisherAndrew79) August 11, 2022

The proposal for equity financing to energy companies is not necessarily bad - which means the Government takes shares in the companies for every penny it loans them.

We put something in, we get something in return.


— Andrew Fisher (@FisherAndrew79) August 11, 2022

But there's a risk this ends up like the bank bailout of 2008/09 where we prop up a failing system, nationalising the losses and privatising the profits

That's the risk in Brown's public ownership as a last resort and only temporarily

That would be corporate welfare


— Andrew Fisher (@FisherAndrew79) August 11, 2022

We should nationalise to run the energy system for public benefit not private profit - a massively popular and economically efficient policy.

But for all its faults, Brown's proposals are better than anything that current frontbench politician has come up with so far


— Andrew Fisher (@FisherAndrew79) August 11, 2022

This is from the Labour MP Chris Bryant.

How on earth can a pensioner on the state pension possibly pay 50% of their income on gas and electric? And why can’t @trussliz realise that reversing the NI increase will do nothing for them? Martin Lewis and Gordon Brown are right. We need action now!

— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) August 10, 2022

And this is from Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary.

It's remarkable that comparisons with Gordon Brown have been used as an insult in the Conservative leadership contest. They're not fit to tie his shoelaces. https://t.co/qZznlPKC4m

— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) August 10, 2022

But Kevin Schofield at HuffPost says Brown is not pitch rolling on behalf of Keir Starmer. Schofield says Starmer is expected to start setting out Labour’s own plans for dealing with the energy bills crisis tomorrow.

Despite speculation to the contrary, HuffPost UK also understands that Gordon Brown’s interventions this week have “very much” not been co-ordinated with Starmer’s office.

— Kevin Schofield (@KevinASchofield) August 11, 2022

The Conservative MP John Redwood said the Brown plan would just waste government money.

Gordon Brown lost us a lot of money on buying shares in RBS. Now he wants to do the same with power companies. Nationalising them will not produce any new supply. They will still have to pay high market prices to buy in energy. It just means higher taxes to pay the losses.

— John Redwood (@johnredwood) August 11, 2022

And on the Today programme this morning Paul Massara, the head of Pulse Clean Energy and the former head of Npower, said nationalisation was not the answer. He told the programme.

I think [Brown is] very confused. And I think he’s taking a model from the financial crisis and trying to apply it to a different situation.

We’ve got a world energy crisis now. I think there is a case actually for having a social tariff, and saying the poorest in society should have a lower tariff, but that gap between the market and the lowest tariff then needs to be made up by the government.

Whether that’s funded through an increased windfall tax is a different question. But nationalisation and ownership is confusing that issue, ownership, with what do we need to do to help bills today.

It’s not as though the companies are being poorly run. This is a global commodity issue.


Energy bosses start talks with Zahawi and Kwarteng

The bosses of some of the UK’s biggest energy companies have started a meeting with Nadhim Zahawi, the chancellor, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, who are expected to pressure them to invest in green energy rather than payouts for shareholders, my colleague Jasper Jolly reports. He has more on his business live blog.


Today’s figures from NHS England show that ambulances in England took an average of 59min 7sec last month to respond to emergency calls such as burns, epilepsy and strokes. This is up from 51min 38sec in June, and is well above the target of 18 minutes.

The Liberal Democrats have said the ambulance service is in crisis and they have urged the Tory leadership candidates to draw up a plan to fix it. Helen Morgan, the party’s communities spokesperson, said:

Liz Truss herself has admitted that under the Conservatives people are facing appalling ambulance delays. Yet neither she nor Rishi Sunak have set out a credible plan to solve this crisis.

We need emergency funding now to support overstretched ambulance services along with an official CQC inquiry into how to fix these appalling delays.

Streeting accuses Tory leadership contenders of ignoring 'biggest crisis in NHS's history'

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, has accused Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak of ignoring what he calls “the biggest crisis in the NHS’s history”. He posted this in response to the latest performance figures from NHS England.

NEW: NHS waiting lists are now at new record high of 6.73 MILLION.

Nearly 30,000 people waited more than 12 HOURS in A&E LAST MONTH.

The biggest crisis in the NHS' history - with one in eight people waiting for care - and it barely gets a mention from Truss and Sunak.

— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) August 11, 2022

Streeting is right to say the Conservative leadership contest has mostly ignored the NHS as an issue.

As a journalist, I have received 41 press releases from the Truss campaign over the last month but not one of them mentions the NHS. And only one of them includes the word health; it was a press release about Truss’s plans to review the operation of the tax system, which she says could help people providing stay-at-home care.

The Sunak campaign has got a slightly better record on this. It has sent me 36 press releases over the same period, and three of them mention the NHS. Ten of them include the word health. Early in the campaign Sunak did announce plans to tackle the NHS waiting list backlog, saying that this was “the biggest public service emergency” facing the country and that he would set up a vaccines-style task force to deal with it. But since then he has not said much more on this, and it is not a topic that has featured much in the official Conservative party hustings. Sunak’s only other NHS-related announcement has been a plan to charge patients £10 if they miss a GP appointment for the second time.


Hospital waiting lists in England reach record high of 6.7 million

The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to a record high, PA Media reports.

Number of patients waiting more than 12 hours in A&E in England up 33% in July from previous month

A record 29,317 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in July from a decision to admit to actually being admitted, PA Media reports. PA says:

The figure is up 33% from 22,034 the previous month and is the highest for any calendar month in records going back to August 2010, according to NHS England figures.

The number waiting at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission stood at 136,221 in July, up from 130,109 the previous month but slightly below the record 136,298 in March.

A total of 71.0% of patients in England were seen within four hours at A&Es last month, down from 72.1% in May and the worst performance on record.

The operational standard is that at least 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours, but this has not been met nationally since 2015.

Labour claims police inspectorate report shows Tories have 'effectively decriminalised' crimes like burglary

Police are failing victims of burglary and theft, missing chances to catch thieves leading to lack of confidence in forces, the official inspectorate has found. My colleague Vikram Dodd has the the full story.

Labour claims this shows the Conservatives are soft on crime. Steve Reed, the shadow justice secretary, told Times Radio this morning:

It’s the conservatives, they’ve gone absolutely soft on crime. And what we’re hearing today is the result of a government that, instead of focusing on making sure that our public services work in the interest of the British people, are continuing simply to have internal fights like we’re seeing now – Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak fighting each other like rats in a sack instead of focusing on the cost of living crisis or the criminal justice and crime crisis.

They’ve effectively decriminalised crimes as serious as burglary, robbery, theft, shoplifting, car crime, fraud, all of those things.

Ryanair boss blames Brexit for airport chaos and calls for return of free movement with EU

Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, told Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that the next prime minister should negotiate free movement of labour between the UK and the EU to help industry with labour shortages. He said:

I think the first thing they should do to boost the British economy is prioritise a trade deal with the European Union – a good starting point for that would be to open up the free movement of labour between the UK and Europe once more.

But he accepted there was no chance of Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak proposing this during the Tory leadership contest. He said:

You have to accept that you’re not going to get elected by a very narrow 180,000 electorate of the Tory party membership if you advocate common-sense policies.

But once you do become prime minister, you should have enough backbone to lead the UK economy forward and the starting point for that should be a free trade deal with the European Union.

(There is also no chance at all of Truss or Sunak backing this if they do become PM. Even the Labour party is not advocating a restoration of free movement, and Brexiters view the UK gaining fuller control of its borders as one of the chief benefits of leaving the EU. It has coincided with public concern about high levels of immigration being a problem falling.)

My colleague Kalyeena Makortoff has a full story on O’Leary’s comments here.


Mark Spencer, the leader of the Commons, was doing an interview round this morning. He was asked on LBC if energy company bosses were paid too much, in the light of crisis caused by high energy bills, but he implied it was not an issue. When he was told one energy executive earned £11.5m, Spencer replied:

That seems like a very large figure to me and certainly on my salary and to my constituents that feels like a large figure. In the context of things, actually, when there’s 65 million people in the country, it’s 30p, 20p, a person, so I think actually there are bigger fish to fry here, which we can try and solve the challenges than to have a pop at the chief exec’s salary.

I think whilst it sometimes makes great politics, it actually doesn’t affect people’s bills, which we need to be focused on, in the autumn.

Sunak frustrated government attempts to realise benefits of Brexit, Truss allies claim

Good morning. It may feel as if the Tory leadership contest has been going on forever but, in terms of official Conservative party hustings, we have not even reached half-way point. Tonight, at 7pm, the sixth hustings event will take place in Cheltenham. After that there will be another six to go.

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, remains the frontrunner and this morning her camp is launching a fresh line of attack against her rival Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor. In an article for the Daily Telegraph two leading Truss supporters, Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, accuse him of frustrating government attempts to realise the benefits of Brexit. They write:

[Sunak] talks about cutting EU regulations, yet dug his heels in as chancellor against efforts to do exactly that and realise the benefits of Brexit. We both saw it in cabinet, including resisting reforms to the EU’s Solvency II regulation – making it harder for pension funds and investors to invest in British business and infrastructure – and being backward-leaning on moving ahead with legislation to fix issues with the Northern Ireland protocol.

Sunak, of course, voted for Brexit in 2016, when Truss was supporting remain. But part of the reason why she appears to be so much more popular with Tory members (who are overwhelmingly pro-Brexit) is that she has managed to portray herself as a Brexit evangelist, while depicting Sunak as someone who has been captured by remainer, Treasury orthodoxy.

In their article Clarke and Kwarteng talk about the importance of exploiting “the huge economic opportunities of Brexit”. There is not much evidence yet that these huge opportunities actually exist, but one common idea in the Brexitverse is that, if Brexit is not working yet, it is because it has been sabotaged, and the Clarke/Kwarteng article reflects this thinking. In this scenario Sunak plays the role of Snowball from Animal Farm.

Sunak himself does believe that Brexit offers economic opportunities and, in response to the article, a campaign spokesperson said:

Rishi was one of the few ministers who delivered real Brexit reforms as chancellor. From establishing eight freeports to ripping up the EU rulebook when it came to financial services, he delivered a proper plan for reform and change.

Sunak campaign sources have also said it is “categorically wrong” to say Sunak opposed reforming the Solvency II rule, and that he supported standing up to Brussels over the Northern Ireland protocol.

(Clarke and Kwarteng accuse Sunak of being “backward-leaning” on the Northern Ireland protocol bill, which may be a new piece of political terminology. It seems to mean that he pointed out some of the disadvantages. Sunak is know to have expressed worries that unilaterally abandoning the protocol could lead to a trade war with the EU.)

Both candidates are meeting Conservative members before the hustings tonight. And this morning Kwarteng will be meeting energy firm bosses alongside Nadhim Zahawi, the chancellor. At one point there were suggestions they might use the meeting to propose expanding the scope of the windfall tax on energy companies. But that proposal has now been downgraded (Truss, the probable next PM, is not keen), and now it is not clear what outcome we should expect from the meeting. There will be no substantial change on energy policy until the new Tory leader is elected. But my colleagues Rowena Mason and Peter Walker have a preview here.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com



Nadeem Badshah (now); Tobi Thomas and Andrew Sparrow (earlier)

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