Stabbed Prime Minister in the back! Kay Burley has Lewis squirming over Zahawi support

Kay Burley grills MP Brandon Lewis on 'backstabbing' Zahawi

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Mr Lewis was asked to defend the actions of the Chancellor after Nadhim Zahawi moved against Boris Johnson just days after being promoted in place of his predecessor Rishi Sunak, whose resignation triggered the downfall of the Tory leader. Sky News’s Kay Burley grilled Mr Lewis over his support for a man that some now see as a “Brutus” figure in British politics.

Ms Burley asked the minister: “What do you say to those people who say he is an absolute Brutus who stabbed the Prime Minister in the back, 24 hours, 36 hours after getting the job?”

“I would say quite the opposite this is someone who at the beginning of last week when asked put public service first, we have to have a chancellor in this country, and his Prime Minister asked him to serve and he took on that role,” replied Mr Lewis.

“I know because a few of us were talking on Tuesday when these changes were going on that it was still an opportunity to change the dial, getting moving on the front foot and get out there with a really strong economic policy.

He added: “Things definitely shifted on Wednesday, what Nadim did I think actually shows the strength of his character.”

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The Chancellor has said he would remove VAT and green levies from energy bills, cut income tax and reduce business taxes.

He said it was a time of “national economic emergency” which required a major response.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Conservative Way Forward group, Mr Zahawi said: “Finally, after too many years of tax and spending skyrocketing, the political landscape is once again coming back to the sensible policies championed by the great lady, Margaret Thatcher.”

He promised that “tax as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product, a measure of the size of the economy) will fall year on year if I become prime minister”.

 

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In April next year basic rate income tax would be cut by 1p to 19p and then to 18p in 2024.

“That will give households back around £900 a year on average,” he said.

Mr Zahawi acknowledged the need to tackle climate change but said the economic “emergency” meant action was needed to reduce bills.

“I will abolish VAT and green levies – temporarily – for two years,” he said. “It is simply not right that families are currently having to see their bills skyrocket and they’re struggling with it and we do nothing.

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“We will continue to meet our net zero target for 2050 but this is a moment of emergency and we have to act like it.”

He also indicated he would reverse the planned rise in corporation tax, which is due to increase from 19% to 25% next year.

Mr Zahawi said the £37 billion package of support to deal with the cost-of-living unveiled by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak had not been a success.

“People do not understand it,” he said, and “they can’t feel it making their lives easier”.

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