Liz Truss says she will 'act within a week' on soaring energy bills if she becomes prime minister

ITV News' David Wood explains why the way the next prime minister handles the deepening cost-of-living crisis will come to define their premiership

Liz Truss has said she would act on the soaring cost of energy bills within one week if she becomes prime minister.

The foreign secretary, who is tipped to beat Tory leadership opponent Rishi Sunak to Number 10 on Tuesday, said she would "make sure there is an announcement on how we are going to deal with the issue of energy bills," no more than a week after entering Downing Street.

Recent days have been full of speculation about who could make up the Cabinet in a Truss administration, with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng tipped to become her chancellor.

Speaking on BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, and asked if the UK is at a crisis point, Ms Truss said: “I think we face some very, very serious challenges.”

But she would not be drawn on specifics of what action she would take to help people with rising costs.

“I will act if I’m elected as prime minister. I will act immediately on bills and on energy supply because I think those two things go hand in hand," she said.

"We need to deal with the immediate problem, we need to help people. We need to help businesses. But we also need to sort out the supply issues."

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Repeatedly pressed on what form that action would take, Ms Truss said: “Before you have been elected as prime minister, you don’t have all the wherewithal to get the things done. “So, this is why it will take a week to sort out the precise plans and make sure we are able to announce them. That is why I cannot go into details at this stage. It would be wrong.

"But what I want to be very clear about with the public is I understand that this is a huge problem. “I understand people are worried and I want to reassure people that I am absolutely determined to sort out this issue as well as within a month, present a full plan for how we are going to reduce taxes, how we’re going to get the British economy going, and how we are going to find our way out of these very difficult times.”

Ms Truss has previously rejected the idea of giving “handouts," to solve the energy crisis, in favour of cutting taxes.

But according to analysis by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) her plan to reverse the recent increase in National Insurance contributions would save households on the lowest incomes an average of just 76p a month.

The same study suggests the proposed tax cut would leave the richest households in the UK better off by £93 a month.

Ms Truss strongly defended this policy on Sunday, claiming "it is fair" that the cut would directly benefit the wealthiest households and do little for the poorest.

She added it would be wrong "to look at everything through the lens of redistribution."

"What I’m about is about growing the economy and growing the economy benefits everybody,” she said as she summed up her economic philosophy.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offered a stark warning to the likely next prime minister on Sunday, telling Sky News: “If she governs how she has campaigned over the summer, she will be a disaster.”

When asked to expand on her view of Ms Truss’s campaign, Ms Sturgeon accused her of campaigning on the “niche priorities” of Tory members, such as tax cuts.

“The obsessions of a tiny, tiny number of Conservative Party members are not the right priorities for the country,” she added.

Mr Sunak, widely believed to be heading towards a defeat, told the BBC the spiralling cost of energy bills was "the most pressing issue facing the country," but added he did not believe it was a problem that could be solved “for everybody."

Asked what he would do on day one about energy bills if he became prime minister on Tuesday, he said: “I think everyone is going to need some help given the scale of the challenge.

"And then two other groups of people who will need further help. That’s those on the lowest incomes, about a third of all households in the country, and then the third group of pensioners.”

He said he would provide direct financial support to the latter two groups, but, asked how much people would get under his plans.

Mr Sunak said: “It wouldn’t be right or responsible for me to sit here and give you the exact to the pennies and the pound amount, and that’s because I’m not inside. I haven’t seen all the numbers, the nation’s finances.”

Labour leapt on the lack of detail given by the candidates on how they would approach the crisis, with shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry labelling it “extraordinary” that they “cannot give a specific answer to the one question frankly that everybody wants an answer to."

Rishi Sunak is predicted to lose the race to Number 10. Credit: PA

Mr Sunak also told the BBC he would continue as an MP if he loses the leadership race.

“I’m going to stay as a Member of Parliament," he said.

He added it had been a "great privilege" to represent the people of his constituency, saying, “It’s been a great privilege to represent them as their Member of Parliament for Richmond in north Yorkshire, I’d love to keep doing that as long as they’ll have me.”

Asked if he would run in a future leadership contest if he does not win this time, Mr Sunak said: “Oh gosh. We’ve just finished this campaign. So, I’d say … I need to recover from this one.

"But I look forward to supporting the Conservative government in whatever capacity.”

How will the new prime minister be announced once the Tory leadership race ends?

After more than a month of voting the winner of the Tory leadership contest will be announced on Monday, September 5.

It's unknown just how many Conservative members have been able to take part in the vote, but at the previous leadership election in 2019, around 160,000 members were accounted for.

Once all votes have been counted, the official result will be read out by the Chairman of the Conservative Party's 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Westminster.

Ms Truss and Mr Sunak will be given front row seats to hear the announcement. The winner will then take to the stage and make a speech.

Tradition dictates that Britain's incumbent leader, Mr Johnson, will firstly need to meet with the Queen at Buckingham Palace and tell her of his intention to step down from the role.

However, in a break from tradition this year the Queen will remain at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, due to her ongoing mobility issues.

Mr Johnson will hold his own audience with the Queen first, but before flying to Aberdeenshire he will make one last speech as prime minister at Downing Street, on the morning of Tuesday, September 6.

Both Mr Johnson and the new prime minister will then fly separately - due to security reasons - to Aberdeen. They will be driven the remainder of the journey to the Queen's Balmoral residence.

Once Mr Johnson's audience with the Queen has finished the new prime minister will be sworn into their role, during a service known as 'kissing hands.'

After this has taken place they are expected to travel back to No 10 Downing Street, where they will deliver a speech to the assembled media and lay out their vision for the UK.

They will also make public their new cabinet, though this could take until the early hours of the following day to be finalised.