Politics

Liz Truss rejects Labour’s plan to freeze energy bills as ‘sticking plaster’

Liz Truss has rejected Labour’s plan to freeze rocketing home energy bills, insisting her priority is still to cut taxes if she reaches No 10.

Interviewed at a distillery in Scotland ahead of leadership race hustings, the strong favourite branded Keir Starmer’s proposal as putting “sticking plasters on this problem”.

The foreign secretary also hinted she would remove or water down the existing windfall tax on energy firms’ excess profits if she wins power – attacking “arbitrary taxes”.

Both Ms Truss and her rival, Rishi Sunak, are under pressure to explain how they will tackle the “national emergency” of soaring annual bills expected to hit £,600 in just two months’ time.

But, asked if she is “failing to grasp the scale of the problem”, Ms Truss argued: “We’re still in the leadership contest at the moment.

“Now, my priority is reducing taxes so people can keep more of their own money at the same time as making sure we boost energy supply. It is wrong to just keep sticking plasters on this problem.”

Ms Truss said the solution is for the government to be “unleashing more energy, for example, from the North Sea”, adding: “We need to solve this problem for the long term.”

And, asked if she still backs the government’s existing windfall tax, she replied: “I’m not in favour of windfall taxes because, fundamentally, what they do is put off investors into our country.

“If we have arbitrary taxes, that puts off investment and it stops growth in the long term.”

Ms Truss also vowed to continue to deploy the Royal Navy continues to prevent refugees and migrants crossing the Channel, as its year-long commitment comes to an end.

“It is an absolute priority to make sure we deal with the issue of small boats and the appalling trade by people traffickers,” she told reporters.

“And I will use every tool at my disposal if I am selected as prime minister to make that happen.” Asked if that would include the Royal Navy, she replied: “Absolutely.”

The leadership candidates have been widely criticised for vague and inadequate proposals to curb energy bills, in a contest dominated by “fantasy” tax cuts and hardline policies towards asylum seekers.

Ms Truss has criticised extra universal help as “handouts” while proposing to suspend the green levies on bills, saving the average household only about £150 a year.

Mr Sunak performed a U-turn when he promised to remove VAT on energy bills, but that would also only offer cut bills by about £150.

The former chancellor originally said there would be no time to pull any other “levers” before October, but has since hinted at further help along the lines of that unveiled in the spring.

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