'It's not the right priority': Rishi Sunak rejects calls for tax cuts

Rishi Sunak stressed he is prepared to make "big bold decisions" on issues like net zero - that some people won't like

Rishi Sunak has rejected calls from within his party for tax cuts, telling ITV News he is more focused on reducing inflation.

The prime minister has been under pressure from senior Tories at his the Conservative Party Conference to slash taxes before the next election, including his predecessor Liz Truss and Cabinet minister Michael Gove.

Ms Truss, who drew one of the conference's biggest crowds for her pro-growth speech and received a huge applause on stage, said taxes in general are "too high" and demanded a cut to corporation tax.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has said he would "like to see the tax burden reduced by the next election".

Watch Rishi Sunak's interview with Robert Peston at the Conservative Party Conference in full

But the PM rejected those calls, telling ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston the "best tax cut I can deliver for the country right now is to halve of inflation".

Asked specifically about Ms Truss's intervention, Mr Sunak said: "I think we had this debate last summer, I'm not interested in looking at the past. I'm interested in doing the right thing for the country in the long term. "Lots of people will have lots of ideas. I don't think that's the right priority. I've been very clear about that."

He may however have been concerned about the support Ms Truss received at her speech, despite crashing the economy during her stint as prime minister which was the shortest tenure of any UK leader.

The Truss-aligned Conservative Growth Group is said to have the support of 60 MPs, a sizeable chunk of the parliamentary party and enough to threaten Mr Sunak’s majority in the Commons.

In her speech, the ex-PM said “there is no reason we cannot go into the next election with a platform that is proudly Conservative," adding: "Let’s stop taxing and banning things, and start producing and building things.”

The PM did suggest he would like to cut taxes in future, saying "I'm a Conservative, we're all Conservatives, of course, we want lower taxes. Right now the best tax cut we can deliver is to bring inflation down."

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said in his conference speech would be to improve productivity by getting people into work.

He announced the national living wage would rise to at least £11 next April and warned he would impose tougher conditions on benefits.

“If we increase public-sector productivity growth by just half a per cent, we can stabilise public spending as a proportion of GDP,” he said.

“Increase it by more and we can bring the tax burden down. ”