Rishi Sunak's campaign video criticised by Andrew Neil
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The politician locked horns with the host over the former Chancellor of the Exchequer’s views on facing the economic crisis with Ms Widdecombe calling for tax cuts. In his leadership bid announcement, Mr Sunak vowed to be someone “to grip this moment and make the right decisions.”
Mr Dolan claimed that the MP for Richmond is the ideal next Prime Minister to lead the country through its economic crisis and to reset the image of the Conservative Party.
However, Ms Widdecombe disagreed saying: “I don’t go along with your hagiography on Rishi Sunak.
“He doesn’t have imagination, he’s not going to cut taxes. You say that’s a responsible attitude, in fact it’s a very cowardly attitude.”
The politician who served under Margaret Thatcher praised the former Prime Minister and called for her “courage”.
Ms Widdecombe said: “We all know from the Thatcher years that the way you stimulate the economy and get growth is by giving the people more of their own money and letting them make decisions as to what to do with it.”
She also criticised Sunak’s prior scandals in the media which will impact his leadership bid and popularity with the British people.
She said: “I also think, however unfair it may be, and I’ll concede it’s unfair, but knowing the press and media as we all do, with all the issues that there have been over his green card and his wife’s tax arrangements your profession isn’t going to let that go.
“It’s going to be endlessly looking for the next thing and I don’t think we need those sorts of distractions so with some regret because Rishi is a good Brexiteer.”
Mr Dolan retorted: “You served under Margaret Thatcher. Rishi Sunak is Margaret Thatcher in a suit!
“This is a guy who is running a campaign based upon a tough message which is that the country is broke and can’t afford tax cuts.
“We can debate tax cuts, but this is a guy who is taking an unpopular position whilst seeking election as leader of the Conservative Party.
“That’s not cowardice, that’s balls!”
After some laughs from the panel at the comment about Thatcher, Ms Widdecombe said: “Mrs Thatcher said the country is broke which it certainly was…and she said ‘we’re going to sort that by making tax cuts’ and she did!
“So, I just don’t think that Rishi has got the necessary degree of courage.”
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Rishi Sunak may find that his reluctance to cut taxes will impact his chances against his rivals such as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who launched her leadership bid on Sunday.
Ms Truss pledged to “start cutting taxes from day one to take immediate action to help people deal with the cost of living.”
Alongside the Foreign Secretary, Sajid Javid and Penny Mordaunt also vowed to cut fuel taxes if they were elected as leader.
Mr Sunak implied that such actions would be drastic and would be part of the “comforting fairy tales” we are telling ourselves.
He said: “Our country faces huge challenges, the most serious for a generation… Do we confront this moment with honesty, seriousness, and determination, or do we tell ourselves comforting fairy tales that might make us feel better in the moment but will leave our children worse off tomorrow?
“Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions.”
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