Rishi Sunak officially announces he’s standing for PM
Rishi Sunak is set to be crowned the next Prime Minister after Boris Johnson sensationally pulled out of the race for Number 10.
The former Prime Minister conceded he would not be able to unite the party to “govern effectively” despite having enough support to reach the final poll of Conservative Party members.
He told the nation: “I believe I have much to offer, but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”
On another day of drama, Mr Johnson’s allies told backers he had the nominations of over 100 MPs – meaning he would make this week’s run-off vote against Sunak. But the former Prime Minister revealed he will not be running, as too many people in the party were opposed to him coming back as leader.
Mr Johnson, stressing the need for unity within Government, warned the Labour Party a General election “would be a further disastrous distraction just when the government must focus on the economic pressures faced by families across the country.”
After a host of big names declared they were supporting Mr Sunak, the former Prime Minister conceded defeat – effectively handing the keys to Downing Street to his rival. The former chancellor’s campaign received a huge surge of support on Sunday with more than 150 MPs backing him to be the next leader.
Mr Johnson conceded last night: “I believe I am well placed to deliver a Conservative victory in 2024 – and tonight I can confirm that I have cleared the very high hurdle of 102 nominations, including a proposer and a seconder, and I could put my nomination in tomorrow.
The ex-Chancellor is most likely going to be crowned as new PM
“There is a very good chance that I would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members – and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday.
“But in the course of the last days, I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.”
The former Prime Minister said that due to the failure to reach a deal with Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, “I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds”.
“I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.
“I have been attracted because I led our party into a massive election victory less than three years ago – and I believe I am therefore uniquely placed to avert a general election now.
“A general election would be a further disastrous distraction just when the government must focus on the economic pressures faced by families across the country.”
Former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox: said: “A thoughtful, wise and statesmanlike decision by Boris Johnson to withdraw, reflecting the qualities that made so many of us originally put our faith in him 3 years ago. Putting the country and the party first.”
Earlier former Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the Former Chancellor was the only candidate who can unite the party by working with all of its different factions and leading Brexiteer Steve Baker warned that Boris “would be an absolute disaster”.
A host of other allies, including those who have worked under Mr Johnson and supported him in previous leadership campaigns, switched sides, declaring a fresh start was needed after numerous high-profile scandals.
Mr Sunak officially entered the race to Number 10 on Sunday, declaring he would “fix the economy” and restore integrity to the Government after months of chaos. He now has more than double the number of publicly-declared supporters of Mr Johnson.
Our victory as pensions protected
The Daily Express campaign to protect the pension triple lock was brought up at the heart of Government in the final few hours of Liz Truss’s premiership, it emerged on Sunday.
Allies of the Prime Minister remarked that this newspaper’s tireless campaign to protect pensioners “cost us £5billion”.
In her last few hours in power, Ms Truss was concerned she had lost the support of the national newspapers.
Conservative Party chairman, Sir Jake Berry, battled with the Treasury to secure the Prime Minister more funds so that she could confirm the triple lock during Prime Minister’s Questions.
It came in the face of fury from this newspaper, whose front page headline last Wednesday, left, declared: “Don’t dare go back on pension triple lock.” Ms Truss also held emergency talks with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, insisting the Government must stick to the measure.
Hours later, Ms Truss told the Commons: “We’ve been clear in our manifesto that we will maintain the triple lock and I’m completely committed to it – so is the Chancellor.
“We are protecting the triple lock on pensions to ensure pensioners get the most generous support, as well as providing extra support with their energy bills.”
The triple lock ensures pension payments rise in line with inflation, average earnings or by 2.5 per cent each year, whichever is higher. Failure to reintroduce it could have cost a single OAP £442 a year.
One senior Tory said: “That one front page cost us £5billion. It would have been cheaper to just buy the newspaper.”
Ex-Bank chief King warns tax must rise
Significantly higher taxes on the average person would be needed to finance higher public spending in the UK, according to a former Bank of England governor, writes Richard Wheeler.
Lord King of Lothbury said there “isn’t enough money there amongst the rich to get it back” when it comes to meeting the “strong case” for extra spending in certain areas to help recover from the lockdown.
He added there is also a need for politicians to “front up” and explain the consequences of soaring inflation, the reduction on living standards caused by confronting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and helping future generations cope with the increased national debt.
Asked if this will feel similar to the recent era of austerity instigated by former Conservative chancellor George Osborne, Lord King replied: “In some ways it could be more difficult.”
He added on BBC One’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “I think everyone can see there is a strong case for higher public spending in certain areas as we recover from the lockdown period and in many ways people are very good at identifying areas where public spending should be higher in the longer term.
“The challenge is if we want European levels of welfare payments and public spending, you cannot finance that with American levels of tax rates.
“So we may need to confront the need to have significantly higher taxes on the average person.
“There isn’t enough money there amongst the rich to get it back.”
Lord King outlined the challenge for the next prime minister
Lord King earlier outlined the challenge for the next prime minister and Opposition to confront high inflation, the scale of public debt and the need for the country to save more.
He said: “The big challenge, I think, is the best way to improve national savings is to reduce the size of the Government budget deficit and that’s a major challenge for both parties.”
Lord King noted public expenditure is not going down and is likely to increase, adding: “Therefore taxes will have to rise to fill the gap which is there at present.
“That doesn’t make a very happy picture for the next few years but what we need is a government that will tell us honestly there is a reduction in our national standard of living because we’ve decided to help Ukraine and confront Russia, and that means all of us are going to have to share the burden – we can’t just put all of it on our children and grandchildren.”
Lord King said mortgage rates are “clearly going to go up” but noted this was also happening elsewhere in the world.
He added all central banks “made the mistake” during the lockdown period of “thinking that they should print a lot of money to support the economy”.
Lord King went on: “Whereas in fact with the economy contracting under lockdown, that was the wrong policy and all central banks – not just ours but the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank – are all facing now very high inflation rates of close to 10%.
“We’re all in the same boat.”
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In a message to politicians, Lord King said: “Time to front up, to have a narrative that explains to people the consequence of: a) allowing inflation to pick up; b) confronting Russia and supporting Ukraine, which has reduced our national standard of living; and c) the need to help future generations cope with the increased national debt we are leaving to them.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, speaking on the same programme after Lord King’s remarks, said an incoming government is going to have to “pick up a real mess of our economy of the Tories’ making”.
He was asked to go into detail on policy areas for a Labour government and noted they would have to face “tough choices” that means they “can’t do some of the things we want to do as an incoming Labour government as quickly as we would want to”.
Asked what that would involve, Sir Keir replied: “I’m not going to write our manifesto on this programme.”