UK’s Gove says leadership hopeful Truss taking ‘holiday from reality’
LONDON: Senior UK Conservative lawmaker Michael Gove on Saturday accused party leadership contender Liz Truss of taking a “holiday from reality” with her plans to cut taxes amid a cost-of-living crisis.
Gove, who has held a raft of cabinet roles and previously stood to be Tory leader, instead endorsed Rishi Sunak for the top job, as the summer-long contest to become the next prime minister nears its final fortnight.
Foreign Secretary Truss is the overwhelming favourite in polls to beat ex-finance minister Sunak and replace outgoing leader Boris Johnson when the result is announced on September 5.
The victor, set to formally take power the next day, faces a daunting challenge with Britain experiencing decades-high inflation and the prospect of a recession later this year.
Truss has vowed immediate tax cuts rather than direct financial handouts to help people struggling to pay their surging bills, drawing stinging criticism from Sunak, his allies and others.
“I am deeply concerned that the framing of the leadership debate by many has been a holiday from reality,“ Gove said in an article in Saturday’s The Times newspaper.
“The answer to the cost-of-living crisis cannot be simply to reject further ‘handouts’ and cut tax.”
He added Truss’ plans to reverse a recent rise in national insurance taxes earmarked for the health and social care sector “would favour the wealthy” while slashing corporation tax would help “big businesses, not small entrepreneurs”.
“I cannot see how safeguarding the stock options of FTSE 100 executives should ever take precedence over supporting the poorest in our society, but at a time of want it cannot be the right priority,“ Gove said.
The 54-year-old, who previously supported right-wing lesser known MP Kemi Badenoch in the leadership race before it narrowed to a final pair, said he now backed Sunak.
“I know what the job requires. And Rishi has it,“ he added.
Gove, who until July led the government’s department for levelling up, housing and communities and has previously led the education and justice ministries, indicated he would likely not take on another role.
“I do not expect to be in government again. But it was the privilege of my life to spend 11 years in the cabinet under three prime ministers,“ he added. – AFP