Conservative Party is 'more extreme than ever', Labour warns

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·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
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LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 17: (ONE MONTH FREE EDITORIAL USE; NO ARCHIVING) In this handout image provided by ITV, Conservative leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss during Britain's Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate at Riverside Studios on July 17, 2022 in London, England. At 7pm on Sunday 17th July Live on ITV, Julie Etchingham hosts an hour-long debate in London with the five Conservative Party leadership contenders, vying to become Britains Prime Minister. All five candidates have agreed to take part and over the course of the 60-minute programme, they will debate with each other in response to questions put by the host. Taking place on the eve of the next round of voting, Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat, and Kemi Badenoch will debate the issues dominating the campaign. Each candidate will have the opportunity to make a closing statement. ITV is the UKs biggest commercial broadcaster and the programme will give the audience the opportunity to get to know more about the candidates and help them decide who has the qualities to be our new Prime Minister. Britains Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate will also be streamed live on ITV Hub, as well as through ITV.com/news, ITV News YouTube channel, facebook and on Twitter. (Photo by Jonathan Hordle / ITV via Getty Images)
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss are set to battle for the keys to Number 10 this summer. (ITV/Getty Images)

A senior Labour MP has claimed the Conservative Party is "more extreme than ever" as the remaining two leadership candidates set themselves for a potentially bruising battle to be prime minister.

Shadow work and pensions (DWP) secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have "lost interest" in ordinary people during the contest amid a deepening cost-of-living crisis.

Read more: Tory leadership debate: Not one candidate would have Boris Johnson in their cabinet

The leadership contest has turned nasty at points – with Truss allies accusing Sunak of being a "socialist chancellor" and Sunak accusing Truss of socialist economics as the pair battle over taxation.

Ashworth said the candidates are "not remotely prioritising the needs of hard-working families and pensioners".

He added that this – combined with a severe cost-of-living crisis, ailing public services, an "anaemic" economy, and the collapse of Boris Johnson's government – means the party is "more irresponsible" and "more extreme" than ever before.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth responds to a statement from Health Secretary Sajid Javid to MPs on the governments coronavirus plans, in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Monday July 5, 2021. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth has accused the Tory party of being 'more extreme' than ever. (Getty Images)
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Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will battle it out to be PM.

"This is a Tory party which has lost any interest [in working families and pensioners and] cannot possibly say that it stands up for [their] needs."

He added: "[They] will push them further into hardship as a consequence of the policies they're announcing."

Ashworth also invited Sunak and Truss to visit his constituency to see the scale of the cost of living crisis.

Read more: UK living standards fall at record rate as inflation soars

"I'd take them to the pensioners foregoing hot showers because they cannot afford the bills associated with heating, heating their house, or heating the water," he said.

Both Truss and Sunak insist that they are taking the current crisis seriously.

Truss has pledged to reverse the national insurance contribution increase and cut the green levy on fuel to - but she has been unclear about how that would be paid for and has not ruled out public spending cuts.

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Milk, butter, and flour are among the stables soaring in price. (ONS)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 17: (ONE MONTH FREE EDITORIAL USE; NO ARCHIVING) In this handout image provided by ITV, Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss during Britain's Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate at Riverside Studios on July 17, 2022 in London, England. At 7pm on Sunday 17th July Live on ITV, Julie Etchingham hosts an hour-long debate in London with the five Conservative Party leadership contenders, vying to become Britains Prime Minister. All five candidates have agreed to take part and over the course of the 60-minute programme, they will debate with each other in response to questions put by the host. Taking place on the eve of the next round of voting, Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat, and Kemi Badenoch will debate the issues dominating the campaign. Each candidate will have the opportunity to make a closing statement. ITV is the UKs biggest commercial broadcaster and the programme will give the audience the opportunity to get to know more about the candidates and help them decide who has the qualities to be our new Prime Minister. Britains Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate will also be streamed live on ITV Hub, as well as through ITV.com/news, ITV News YouTube channel, facebook and on Twitter. (Photo by Jonathan Hordle / ITV via Getty Images)
Foreign secretary Liz Truss is now the bookies' favourite to be the next prime minister. (ITV/Getty Images)

Sunak has not announced any new cost of living plans, instead pointing to a £15bn package of support he announced while he was chancellor.

At the same time, experts have warned of a "financial cataclysm" and urged leadership candidates to pledge more support.

"I would politely urge the Conservative party to a very quick succession process," said Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis.

Read more: Martin Lewis issues warning over 'frightening' energy bills

"We need a working administration at speed. This winter will be catastrophic, pushing millions into poverty with typical energy bills rising to £3,000 a year. We need leaders in office taking action ASAP."

On Thursday, energy fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) urged whoever wins to focus on the winter crisis where 8.2 million UK households could be in fuel poverty.

"The energy crisis is the urgent priority for a new prime minister," said NEA chief executive, Adam Scorer.

"Higher prices and cold weather are inevitable. Dither and delay are not.”

Watch: Tory leadership candidates clash over cost of living during second TV debate

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