'Tax Cuts Ain't Gonna Cut It': Brandon Lewis Skewered By Nick Robinson Over Truss' Economic Plans

Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss has ruled out "handouts" despite the looming economic crisis.
Brandon Lewis and Nick Robinson clashed on the Today programme this morning
Brandon Lewis and Nick Robinson clashed on the Today programme this morning
Getty/BBC Radio 4

Liz Truss’ supporter Brandon Lewis clashed with Radio 4′s Nick Robinson on Monday over the Tory leadership hopeful claim she would not provide “handouts”.

The Bank of England forecast last week that a recession will soon hit the UK, spanning five quarters, while energy bills reach almost £4,000.

Truss then said she would reject “handouts” to help the public cope – a claim her supporters have since alleged was “misinterpreted” – and instead wants to cut taxes to help people.

Speaking to the Today programme, the Tory MP highlighted Truss’ plans to cut green levies and reduce National Insurance contributions.

Pressed on whether she would end up providing handouts after all, Lewis replied: “What you’re asking me to do is pre-judge –”

Robinson replied: “No I’m not, I’m asking you for a fact.

“What is the effect of her central policy promise?”

“What Liz has outlined is she would bring forward an emergency budget,” Lewis said.

“Mr Lewis, come on. This is the central tax promise of Liz Truss. It’s what she says is needed to do. It’s what makes her different from Rishi Sunak.

“I’m doing something perfectly reasonable – to spell out the impact of the promise. It would be a £170 gain. Important money, to someone on a median income, but as you know the energy price cap is likely to increase by about £1,600.”

In October, energy regulator Ofgem will be lifting the maximum amount consumers can be charged for their bills to around £2,800 in total. It’s expected to increase again to £3,500 by January.

So Robinson pointed out that Truss’ plans would leave people on a median budget short-changed by more than £1,000 a year.

“Look, I am asking about something people call an emergency,” he added.

As the journalist and Tory MP continued to talk over each other, Robinson ended up asking: “Can I ask you a question now?”

He pointed out that financial journalist and MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis thinks people will have to go to their local libraries to keep warm this winter – meaning handouts are likely to be the only means to stop people going into fuel poverty.

“Tax cuts ain’t going to cut it,” Robinson pointed out.

“You’re going to have to handouts. Or is there another policy that I don’t know about?”

Lewis replied: “We think the best way [to help people] is to have more money in their pockets.”

Robinson continued pushing back, saying: “You’re on the programme in order to explain and I’ve asked you I think, four, five, possibly six times.”

“And every time you ask Nick, I’ll be able to give you the same answer – apart from the specific details that Liz has already outlined that give some help to people, I appreciate that doesn’t fully solve the problem, this is a big international global inflation and energy price change that we’re facing.

“She also wants to bring forward an emergency budget.”

“Might it include handouts?” Robinson asked, repeatedly.

Lewis replied: “It is based on a principle of having a low tax economy which means people are better placed to deal with these challenges.”

“Would it include handouts?” Robinson asked.

“Well, that be pre-judging a budget which we haven’t had yet.”

“OK, so it might,” the Today programme host concluded, but apologising: “Now forgive me for interrupting several times. It is to try and get clarity because there is a vast looming crisis.”


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