Dominic Raab has questioned the record of Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss when she worked as a Treasury minister in response to her attacks on Rishi Sunak.
The Deputy Prime Minister, a Sunak supporter, said “people can see whether spending and headcount in the civil service went up or down” when Truss worked as chief secretary to the Treasury and that she should “answer for her policies” at the time.
Truss and her team have hit out at Sunak for increasing taxes post-Covid to their highest level in decades and she has pledged sweeping tax cuts if elected as Tory leader and Prime Minister.
Sunak attacked Truss during Friday’s Channel 4 leadership debate for her “fairytale” plans of cutting taxes by borrowing tens of billions of pounds, which he says would drive the UK’s 9 per cent inflation even higher.
Raab told Sky News today that all candidates needed to be accountable for their records in government.
Speaking to Sky News, Raab said: “She can answer for her policies when she was chief secretary of the Treasury [between 2017 and 2019]. People can see whether spending and headcount in the civil service went up or down.
“I mean, did she cut taxes at that time? Did spending go up or down during her period as chief secretary to the Treasury? I think, without without criticising her personally, I think it’s right that everyone on their record is is scrutinised.”
Truss, Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch will face off in a televised leadership debate tonight on ITV before Conservative MPs vote in a third round tomorrow.
MPs will whittle down these five candidates to two by Thursday, with the final contenders facing off in a six-week campaign to win the votes of the party’s 200,000 members.
The key issues of the race have been on the economy and trust in politics, after Boris Johnson was forced to resign for a series of scandals.
Candidates have been lining up to outdo each other on promises to cut taxes in a bid to win over Tory party membership, despite Sunak’s warnings.
Senior Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith, a Truss supporter, told Sky News that the Treasury under Sunak and the Bank of England were to blame for the UK’s high inflation rates.
He said “tax reduction, key tax reduction will aid growth” and said that the current high tax environment will “destroy” people’s incomes during these tough economic conditions.
The leadership race has become increasingly vicious in recent days, with attacks launched particularly at Sunak and Mordaunt.
Mordaunt, a trade minister, shot into favouritism with bookmakers last week after finishing a strong second to Sunak in the first two rounds of votes and after polling showed she was the current favourite of Conservative members to be the next PM.
Lord David Frost launched a stinging attack on Mordaunt on Thursday, saying that she was not up to the job and that he asked Boris Johnson to sack her as his deputy in the Cabinet Office last year.
City A.M. also revealed last week that her colleagues in the Department for International Trade were furious with Mordaunt for neglecting her ministerial duties over the past six months to instead set up her leadership campaign.
The Sunday Times today detailed leaked documents suggesting she has changed her position on self-identification for transgender people during the leadership race in order to win over Tory members.
Mordaunt told the BBC today: “We all know what’s going on and, as I say, this is the type of toxic politics people want to get away from.
“There’s a number of smears going on in the papers, that’s not representative of how my party operates. My colleagues are angry and upset this is how the leadership contest is being dragged down.”