Sajid Javid warns Tory party facing 'electoral oblivion' as leadership hopefuls accused of 'fantasy tax cuts'

Sajid Javid has warned the Conservatives are facing “electoral oblivion” as fellow leadership hopefuls fought over announcing uncosted “fantasy tax cuts”.

The former Health Secretary hit out at the "poisonous" nature of the contest and accused colleagues of playing games.

Speaking at a launch event in Westminster, Mr Javid set out an estimated £40 billion of plans to scrap the corporation tax hike and the national insurance (NI) levy he was backing just one week ago.

His plans came as his fellow Tory candidates were criticised by Sir Keir Starmer for “magic money tree” tax cuts that are “from the moon”.

Sajid Javid attends the launch of his campaign to be Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister

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Boris Johnson, meanwhile, declined to back any of the candidates vying to replace him as Conservative Party leader, suggesting his support could be damaging.

The Prime Minister declined to give his public backing to any of the candidates after an extraordinary few days in Westminster that saw him unseated by an unprecedented revolt from within his own party.

Eleven candidates have entered the race so far, with Home Secretary Priti Patel and Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg believed to be considering runs.

Launching his campaign, Mr Javid said: “Too many people now believe that Labour are fit to govern. Some of them say that Labour are more competent and even more likely to cut taxes."

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Defending his decision to stay in Johnson’s cabinet for as long as he did, Javid said: “I did think about leaving earlier than I did.

“Perhaps I should have left earlier. But I didn’t see anyone else leave any earlier than me.”

Mr Javid also accused the other leadership campaigns of spreading “poisonous gossip” about each other.

He said: “This isn’t House Of Cards or Game Of Thrones. And the people who are here just because they enjoy the game are in the wrong place.

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“The way things were going recently, I feared our party was on a trajectory to the same electoral oblivion once again.

“We cannot be complacent about the situation we are now in. This is a ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ moment.”

Mr Johnson blamed the “herd” for his resignation as Tory leader, but Mr Javid insisted he dramatically quit the Cabinet because it was the “right thing to do”.

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“This wasn’t because I could hear the hooves of a herd. If anything, I expected half the herd to turn around and charge at me,” he said.

Promising a “new Conservative economic plan” to include scrapping the rise in corporation tax from 19 per cent to 25 per cent, Mr Javid argued his three tax cuts that he estimated would cost around £40 billion in 2024/25 would be paid under current fiscal headroom and “new efficiencies” in Government.

But he was dogged by questions over his non-domiciled status before entering politics.

Mr Javid, who worked in banking, refused to say where he had been based for tax purposes when asked if he used tax havens.

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Monday saw a series of promises from Tory candidates, in an apparent bidding war over taxes.

It saw new Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi pledging to cut 20 per cent from every government department and to cut income tax in 2023 and 2024 as well as abolishing green levies on energy bills for two years.

That sparked a careful rebuke by the Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey who said that there are some things that should only be said when the Chancellor is announcing a Budget.

Attorney General Suella Braverman meanwhile argued there is “no alternative but radical tax cuts” amid a cost-of-living crisis.

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Elsewhere the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss vote to cut taxes “from day one” and scrap the NI hike, while Jeremy Hunt said he would “cut all taxes”.

Launching her campaign, Ms Truss used the tagline “Trusted to deliver” with a slick video highlighting her work on trade deals and the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

Ms Truss said a prime minister with “experience, who can hit the ground running from day one” is needed, in a possible dig at her rivals without Cabinet experience.

During a speech in Gateshead, the Labour leader Sir Keir said there had been “more than £200 billion worth of unfunded spending commitments” from the candidates over the weekend.

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He said: “That’s more than the annual budget of the NHS, splurged on to the pages of the Sunday papers, without a word on how it’ll be paid for.

“Or is it the magic money tree that they’ve suddenly discovered having arrived back down here from the moon where they’ve been for the last 12 years?.

Demanding a general election, Sir Keir did not rule out tax cuts if he entered No 10.

Instead he said: “We won’t be making any unfunded commitments, everything we say will be funded and that will be set out.”

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Robert Jenrick, a former Cabinet minister who is backing former chancellor Rishi Sunak, criticised rivals for pledging unachievable tax cuts at a time when the party’s “credibility” is under strain.

“I think there’s a risk in a leadership contest of announcing tens of billions of pounds of unfunded tax cuts, much as though we would like to see those,” he told Times Radio.

“At this moment in time, the credibility of the Conservative Party is being tested – let’s be honest with ourselves,” he told Times Radio.

“And what the public wants to see now is professionalism, seriousness of purpose and a proper plan as to how we’re going to shepherd the economy and their households through the months ahead.

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“And announcing fantasy tax cuts to help get through a leadership election, I think, is unwise.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps released a snappy video appealing to the Tory MPs who will whittle down the candidates by touting his experience as a campaigner.

With Conservatives nervous of losing their jobs after Mr Johnson led the party to dire recent electoral performance, Mr Shapps told MPs: “I can help you win your seat.”

It came as Mr Johnson insisted the outcome of the bid to replace him “will be good” despite multiple candidates having worked to oust him, but he declined to back any of the candidates.

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He added: “I wouldn’t want to damage anybody’s chances by offering my support”.

Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee who has never been a minister, pledged to cut taxes on jobs and fuel and painted his candidacy as a “clean start”.

The 1922 Committee of backbench MPs will elect a new executive committee on Monday evening before drawing up a timetable for the leadership contest.

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