Rishi Sunak accused of ‘flip-flop’ in favour of new wind farms after previously backing ban

Rishi Sunak accused of ‘flip-flop’ in favour of new countryside wind farms after previously backing continued ban as he prepares to face Liz Truss in final live television debate of leadership campaign TONIGHT

  • The former chancellor was accused of a ‘flip-flop’ over countryside  green power 
  • Told members he would be ‘bold enough to scrap the embargo of onshore wind’
  • Had previously said he would not ‘relax the ban on onshore wind in England’

Rishi Sunak has been accused of making a green energy U-turn in favour of building more countryside wind farms during his leadership campaign. 

The former chancellor was accused of a ‘flip-flop’ after telling a hustings last night he backed relaxing the current moratorium on fresh onshore turbines.

His comments in Cardiff came weeks after he used a newspaper interview to stress he did not want the 2015 ban introduced by David Cameron to be removed.

He is today preparing to face Liz Truss – who is 34 points ahead according to one poll –  in what is due to be the final televised debate of the leadership campaign, on Sky News.

The two rivals clashed in Cardiff last night in front of Conservative party members over their differing tax plans, as the Bank of England prepares to make the largest increase in interest rates in 27 years. 

A Bank of England announcement is scheduled for noon, with experts warning that inflation could peak at 15 per cent, adding to the already painful cost-of-living crisis with spiralling prices. 

Ms Truss has pledged to make £30billion-worth of tax cuts a priority if she enters No10 in September. Mr Sunak has said he will cut taxes, but views tackling inflation as a larger concern. 

Ms Truss’s plans faced heavyweight criticism today from Lord Lawson, who was chancellor under Margaret Thatcher.

Writing in the Telegraph he said they were ‘uncomfortably reminiscent of the missteps of the Tory government of 50 years ago’ under Ted Heath.

‘We saw the impact of rising prices, crippling the economy and putting millions out of work. Savings were eroded and investment collapsed. I am profoundly concerned that we are in danger of repeating the mistakes of that decade,’ he said. 

But Ms Truss, who is being endorsed by the Dail Mail, won the backing of another former chancellor, Sajid Javid, last night. He said immediate tax cuts were ‘essential’. 

The former chancellor was accused of a 'flip-flop' after telling a hustings last night he backed relaxing the current moratorium on fresh onshore turbines.

The former chancellor was accused of a ‘flip-flop’ after telling a hustings last night he backed relaxing the current moratorium on fresh onshore turbines.

His comments in Cardiff came weeks after he used a newspaper interview to stress he did not want the 2015 ban introduced by David Cameron to be removed.

His comments in Cardiff came weeks after he used a newspaper interview to stress he did not want the 2015 ban introduced by David Cameron to be removed.

He is today preparing to face Liz Truss in what is due to be the final televised debate of the leadership campaign, on Sky News.

He is today preparing to face Liz Truss in what is due to be the final televised debate of the leadership campaign, on Sky News.

Last night in Cardiff Mr Sunak said he would be ‘bold enough to scrap the embargo of onshore wind in England’.

But just a fortnight ago he told the Telegraph: ‘Wind energy will be an important part of our strategy, but I want to reassure communities that as prime minister I would scrap plans to relax the ban on onshore wind in England, instead focusing on building more turbines offshore’.

A Truss campaign source said: ‘Yet again we’ve seen Rishi flip-flop on a policy commitment.

‘He has already U-turned on tax cuts, grammar schools and china, and tonight we’ve seen him do the same on onshore windfarms.’

Ms Truss her self has been accused of a U-turn after ditching a policy that would reduce public sector pay in poorer parts of the country – though she has claimed the scheme was ‘misinterpreted’. 

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

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.’

Ms 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.’

Ms Truss's plans faced heavyweight criticism today from Lord Lawson, who was chancellor under Margaret Thatcher.

Ms Truss’s plans faced heavyweight criticism today from Lord Lawson, who was chancellor under Margaret Thatcher.

Writing in the Telegraph he said they were 'uncomfortably reminiscent of the missteps of the Tory government of 50 years ago' under Ted Heath.

Writing in the Telegraph he said they were ‘uncomfortably reminiscent of the missteps of the Tory government of 50 years ago’ under Ted Heath.

Ms Truss’ campaign received another high-profile Tory endorsement as former leadership hopeful Sajid Javid threw his weight behind the Foreign Secretary.

Mr Javid, whose resignation as health secretary minutes before Mr Sunak quit as chancellor triggered the cascade that forced Boris Johnson to quit, warned that ‘tax cuts now are essential’ as he backed Ms Truss’ plans.

In an article for The Times, Mr Javid said 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’.

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 Ms Truss was speaking.

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

On Wednesday, Ms Truss was boosted by two surveys giving her overwhelming leads over Mr Sunak after the pair took part in a hustings in Cardiff.

She won a 34-percentage point lead over Mr Sunak in a YouGov poll of party members, before a survey for the ConservativeHome website released on Wednesday put her 32 points ahead.

The televised event also saw her blame ‘the media’ for having ‘misinterpreted’ her abandoned £8.8 billion policy pledge to cut the public sector wage bill, with Mr Sunak welcoming the U-turn.

She also renewed her attacks on Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon after saying she would ignore the ‘attention seeker’ and launched a new attack on Ms Sturgeon’s Welsh counterpart.

Ms Truss described First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford as a ‘low-energy version of Jeremy Corbyn’, the former Labour leader, and said his successor Sir Keir Starmer was a ‘plastic patriot’.

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