Conservatives can bid farewell to next election if they don’t control inflation, says Sunak

Rishi Sunak is fighting Liz Truss for the #10 keys (PA Wire)

Conservatives may “kiss them goodbye” in hopes of winning the next general election unless they rein in inflation, warned Rishi Sunak.

Sunak was speaking at a Conservative leadership contest in Eastbourne a day after the Bank of England predicted inflation will peak at 13.3% and the cost-of-living crisis will extend into the expected 2024 election year.

The former chancellor has repeatedly warned that his leadership rival Liz Truss’s plan for at least £30 billion in immediate tax cuts will fuel inflation and risk extending the crisis.

He told conservative activists on Friday that the most important thing was not “to add fuel to the fire and make the situation worse”.

“The first thing we need to do to make sure we can win this election is to get over this inflation problem by then,” Sunak said. “And that’s why I’m particularly concerned about policies that run the risk of getting worse and lasting longer.

“Because this is a problem that is not just for this winter. It’s a problem for next winter too, and beyond, because, as the Bank of England said, they’re worried about inflation.

“So there is no hope that we will win the next election. Absolutely none. Right? It’s that simple.

“We all heard what they said yesterday, you all saw the numbers.

“And if we don’t understand this thing and quickly, we can say goodbye to victory in the next election. So the first thing to put ourselves in a position to win is to beat inflation and beat it quickly and not make things worse.”

Sunak said that beating inflation is “the most important issue facing our country right now.”

He added: “The warning lights in our economy are flashing red. And the root of that is inflation. And yes, it is mainly driven by international causes, but not exclusively, and increasingly it is becoming domestic.

“So the first thing we need to do, if we’re going to deal with this, is not make the situation worse and add fuel to the fire and repeat the mistakes of the past.

“And as you heard from Nigel Lawson – Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor – the other day, I believe that pumping £40 or £50 billion of borrowed money into an economy that is already spiraling into inflation is extremely risky.

“You’re taking a big gamble with your savings, your pensions and your mortgage rates, and that’s not a gamble I’m prepared to take.”

Separately, Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss vowed to take action against “militant activists” after her speech to the same hustings was interrupted by provocateurs.

Five environmental protesters joined a Green New Deal Rising action at the event, rising one by one from the audience to say aloud to the would-be prime minister, “Liz Truss, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

A live broadcast of the demonstrations on the Conservative Party website was briefly interrupted as the protesters were removed from the hall.

As the audience shouted “Out! Out!” the foreign minister interrupted her speech, saying: “I think we have some infiltrators and I will wait until they are evicted.”

When she resumed her speech, Truss won plaudits from conservative activists for announcing that, as prime minister, she would “never, ever allow our democracy to be disrupted by unjust protests.”

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