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Liz Truss rules out new taxes in final push to become UK premier

Conservative leadership frontrunner Liz Truss promised on Wednesday that her administration would be an “unashamedly pro-business government” as she vowed never to introduce new taxes as prime minister in the 12th and final hustings.

The foreign secretary, who in recent days has faced criticism for failing to outline her plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, said that if elected, she would prefer to slash taxes rather than introduce “handouts”. She would work to increase energy supplies throughout the country, she said, adding that the short-termism of her predecessors had left the UK vulnerable to global energy prices.

Addressing Tory members in London, the foreign secretary said there would be “no new taxes” under her premiership and rejected the introduction of an additional windfall tax on gas and oil companies that have recorded record profits this year.

Challenged on how she would ensure that businesses and local high streets were able to survive rising energy prices, Truss argued that her administration would be “pro-business” and pursue policies such as reversing the national insurance rise.

“I will be looking across the board to make sure we’re increasing supply and therefore dealing with the root cause of the issue rather than just putting a sticking plaster on,” she said. “But I would absolutely be looking to act on business energy costs.”

She refused however, to be drawn into further detail on the specifics of her cost of living plan. Questioned on whether she was considering slashing VAT, the foreign secretary replied: “I am not ruling things in and out.” . . I’m not sitting here writing a Budget or fiscal event.”

Truss also promised that, with her as prime minister, the UK would not see energy rationing, following warnings from France’s prime minister Élisabeth Borne that the country might have to control energy this winter following a supply squeeze driven by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Leadership rival Rishi Sunak struck a more cautious tone when questioned on the need for energy rationing, stating: “We shouldn’t rule anything out because the challenges that we face with this crisis are significant.”

The Conservative leadership race is due to come to a close this week. Party members will have until September 2 to cast their ballot, with the next leader announced on September 5.

Earlier on Wednesday, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen would appoint the next prime minister from Balmoral Castle, her residence in Scotland, for the first time in her 70-year reign.

Queen Elizabeth has usually appointed prime ministers at Buckingham Palace. However, in a departure from tradition, Boris Johnson and his successor will travel to Scotland on September 6, when the Queen will receive Johnson as he departs from office, followed by an audience with the next prime minister.

Johnson has sought to defend his legacy after nearly three years in power, arguing on Wednesday that despite the cost of living pressures, the UK had the “financial strength” to get through this challenging period.

“This country has got an incredible future and has everything, everything going for it,” he said, while on a visit to south London.

“Which is the country that attracts more venture capital investment now than China? It’s the United Kingdom. . . Why do people want to come here? Because it is the place to be.”

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