Coronavirus UK: Rishi Sunak warns of tax rises and spending cuts

Sunak’s big day at Tory conference at a glance: 

  • Mr Sunak heaped praise on ‘special’ Boris Johnson, saying he had made the right ‘big calls’ on coronavirus.  He said they were ‘close personal friends’ and their families were  ‘very joined’ in No10 and No11 – noting that his daughters love the PM’s dog Dilyn.
  • The Chancellor made clear that tax rises are looming to ‘balance the books’ after the immediate coronavirus crisis eases. He said the Tories would not stand for anything if they allowed debt and borrowing to spiral.
  • Mr Sunak said he had ‘no regrets’ about the Eat Out scheme despite the PM admitting it might have fueled Covid cases. 
  • He said although Tories believed in ‘individual freedom’, the Government would always stand ‘between the people and the danger’ of the pandemic. 
  • The Chancellor conceded that he will not be able to save all jobs, but said he would work flat out to boost ‘opportunity’ and hinted that there could be a version of the Eat Out scheme for cinemas and theatres. 
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Rishi Sunak warned of tax rises to come and lavished praise on ‘special’ Boris Johnson today as he tried to quell growing rumours of a feud over lockdown.

The Chancellor hailed the PM as a ‘close personal friend’ and ‘rare’ communicator who had ‘got the big calls right’ as he delivered his keynote speech to Tory conference. He even noted that their families were ‘joined’ and his daughters loved Mr Johnson’s dog Dilyn.

Mr Sunak again conceded that he will not be able to save all jobs, but pointed to the huge government bailouts so far and said his sole priority would be to spread ‘opportunity’.

In a bizarre ‘virtual’ address beset with technical problems, and with Mr Sunak reading awkwardly off an autocue that appeared to be in the wrong place, he also delivered a stark warning that ‘hard choices’ on tax rises and spending cuts will be needed after the immediate crisis passes. 

Mr Sunak said ‘over the medium term’ the government will need to ‘get our borrowing and debt back under control’.

‘This Conservative government will always balance the books,’ he said. 

The speech came after Mr Sunak risked fueling the speculation of tensions with Mr Johnson branded the 10pm pubs curfew ‘frustrating’ and insisted he had ‘no regrets’ about the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

By contrast the PM admitted yesterday that the dining subsidies might have contributed to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases. 

The two men were pictured together visiting an energy firm this morning in an apparent bid to smooth over the situation. 

In other coronavirus developments today;

  • A furious blame game is under way today after 16,000 coronavirus cases were missed due to a computer glitch – meaning thousands more potentially infected contacts were not traced; 
  • Manchester now has the highest seven-day case rate in England, including the new infection data; 
  • Official figures updated with the missed cases show that, based on the date on which samples were taken rather than when the result was published, the UK’s daily rate has not been below 6,000 since September 21; 
  • The highest number of infected specimens collected in a single day was 11,404 on September 30; 
  • Ministers are putting the finishing touches to a new traffic-light system which could pave the way for harsher restrictions such as the closure of all pubs in a certain area;
  • Next year’s school exams could be delayed by three weeks as the crisis rolls on with unions saying that the syllabus might also need to be ‘pared back’.

Rishi Sunak (pictured visiting Octopus energy with Boris Johnson this morning) mounted a staunch defence of his Eat Out subsidies after the PM admitted yesterday they might have contributed to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases

Rishi Sunak (pictured visiting Octopus energy with Boris Johnson this morning) mounted a staunch defence of his Eat Out subsidies after the PM admitted yesterday they might have contributed to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases

Rishi Sunak (pictured visiting Octopus energy with Boris Johnson this morning) mounted a staunch defence of his Eat Out subsidies after the PM admitted yesterday they might have contributed to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases

Public sector borrowing has been soaring this year compared to last year - with tax revenues slumping and the IFS saying £70billion has been spent tackling the coronavirus crisis

Public sector borrowing has been soaring this year compared to last year - with tax revenues slumping and the IFS saying £70billion has been spent tackling the coronavirus crisis

Public sector borrowing has been soaring this year compared to last year – with tax revenues slumping and the IFS saying £70billion has been spent tackling the coronavirus crisis

The Office for National Statistics recently revealed that public sector debt has continued to climb above £2 trillion

The Office for National Statistics recently revealed that public sector debt has continued to climb above £2 trillion

The Office for National Statistics recently revealed that public sector debt has continued to climb above £2 trillion

Official figures for the fall in GDP during the three months to June have been revised down from 20.4 per cent to 19.8 per cent. However, the scale of the drop still makes it the biggestin modern history

Official figures for the fall in GDP during the three months to June have been revised down from 20.4 per cent to 19.8 per cent. However, the scale of the drop still makes it the biggestin modern history

Official figures for the fall in GDP during the three months to June have been revised down from 20.4 per cent to 19.8 per cent. However, the scale of the drop still makes it the biggestin modern history

The daily totals rocketed over the weekend after the 'glitch' resulted in officials adding on thousands of cases that were missed last week. However, that merely shows the dates the cases were reported, rather than when the positive tests happened

The daily totals rocketed over the weekend after the 'glitch' resulted in officials adding on thousands of cases that were missed last week. However, that merely shows the dates the cases were reported, rather than when the positive tests happened

The daily totals rocketed over the weekend after the ‘glitch’ resulted in officials adding on thousands of cases that were missed last week. However, that merely shows the dates the cases were reported, rather than when the positive tests happened

The Chancellor hailed the PM as a ‘rare’ communicator who had ‘got the big calls right’ as he delivered his keynote speech to Tory conference

Viewers confused by Rishi’s eye moves as virtual speech glitches 

Viewers of Rishi Sunak’s big speech today were disconcerted by his eye movements.

Social media users noted that the Chancellor’s autocue appeared to be off to one side – meaning that he kept glancing back and forth.

Allies of Mr Sunak blamed the way Conservative HQ had set up the autocue and podium for the awkward imagery. 

‘It’s not that hard to get the autocue just below camera eye level,’ one said. ‘Let’s hope it’s sorted for the PM tomorrow.’ 

Meanwhile, the virtual conference event also ran into trouble as the TV feed briefly went down in the middle.

However, while television channels lost the pictures, party members and journalists watching online were able to see them.

The gathering is being held online due to the pandemic, with a ‘virtual’ conference centre. 

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Mr Sunak told the conference – being held virtually due to the pandemic – that he was ready to do whatever he could to protect the economy. 

But he also signalled that there will have to be a reckoning for the government’s huge outlay.

‘We will protect the public finances. Over the medium term getting our borrowing and debt back under control,’ he said.

‘We have a sacred responsibility to future generations to leave the public finances strong, and through careful management of our economy, this Conservative government will always balance the books.

‘If instead we argue there is no limit on what we can spend, that we can simply borrow our way out of any hole, what is the point in us?’ 

Mr Sunak has been cementing his status as the leading Cabinet ‘hawk’ on the need to get the economy running again, winning plaudits from MPs who are furious with Mr Johnson for curbing civil liverties and trashing business.

That has sparked claims of tensions between the two politicians. But Mr Sunak tried to draw a line under the rumours today with a gushing tribute to the premier.

‘I’ve seen up close the burden the Prime Minister carries,’ he said.

‘We all know he has an ability to connect with people in a way few politicians manage.

‘It is a special and rare quality.

‘But what the commentators don’t see, the thing I see, is the concern and care he feels for people every day, for the wellbeing of every person in our country.

‘Yes, it’s been difficult, challenges are part of the job, but on the big calls, in the big moments, Boris Johnson has got it right and that is the leadership that we need.’

Despite widespread fury at the government’s handling of the crisis – including chaotic lockdowns and shambolic testing – Mr Sunak claimed that the public could be ‘proud’ of the response. 

He said although Tories believed in ‘individual freedom’, the Government would always stand ‘between the people and the danger’ of the pandemic.

‘Whilst we would not have wished for this burden, it has been for many, for the first time in their lives, a moment in which government ceased to be distant and abstract, but became real, and felt, and something of which people could be proud,’ he said,

‘Action met words. This Conservative Government stood between the people and the danger and we always will.’

Mr Sunak was addressing the conference from behind a podium even though it is being held virtually due to the pandemic

Mr Sunak was addressing the conference from behind a podium even though it is being held virtually due to the pandemic

Mr Sunak was addressing the conference from behind a podium even though it is being held virtually due to the pandemic

Treasury figures show more than 100million meals were eaten under the scheme, which gave diners a 50 per cent state-backed discount, up to a maximum of £10, on meals every Monday to Wednesday during August

Treasury figures show more than 100million meals were eaten under the scheme, which gave diners a 50 per cent state-backed discount, up to a maximum of £10, on meals every Monday to Wednesday during August

Treasury figures show more than 100million meals were eaten under the scheme, which gave diners a 50 per cent state-backed discount, up to a maximum of £10, on meals every Monday to Wednesday during August

Furious blame game erupts between PHE and testing tsar Dido Harding after 16,000 Covid cases are missed because of ‘Excel spreadsheet’

A furious blame game is under way today after 16,000 coronavirus cases were missed due to a computer glitch – meaning thousands more potentially infected contacts were not traced.

The extraordinary meltdown is believed to have been caused by an Excel spreadsheet containing lab results reaching its maxium size, and failing to update. 

Some 15,841 cases between September 25 and October 2 were not uploaded to the government dashboard.

As well as underestimating the scale of the outbreak in the UK, critically the details were not passed to contact tracers, meaning people exposed to the virus were not tracked down.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey conceded this morning that more Britons ‘may well’ have been infected due to the blunder. 

Boris Johnson was unable even to say how many people were being contact traced in the wake of the bungle.

But he scrambled to play down concerns that ministers have been making pivotal decisions on lockdown without accurate information, saying the outbreak was still in line with where its experts thought. 

The shambolic situation sparked an immediate backlash against PHE – which is already set to be abolished and replaced by the government – with claims ‘everything it touches turns to sh**’.

But the body hit back by pointing the finger at the Test & Trace operation, run by Baroness Dido Harding. ‘We report the data when they send it. We didn’t get it,’ one official told Sky News. 

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to hold an emergency meeting with angry local mayors about the situation, before what promises to be a bruising appearance in the Commons this evening. 

The technical issue has now been resolved by splitting the Excel files into batches.

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Mr Sunak said he felt ‘pain’ that he could not save every job affected by the devastating coronavirus crisis.

But he said his ‘single priority’ will be to create opportunity – and insisted he is ready to be ‘pragmatic’ on new support packages if they are needed.

‘I have always said I couldn’t protect every job or every business. No chancellor could,’ Mr Sunak said.

‘And even though I have said it, the pain of knowing it, only grows with each passing day.

‘So, I am committing myself to a single priority – to create, support and extend opportunity to as many people as I can.

‘Because even if this moment is more difficult than any you have ever faced, even if it feels like there is no hope, I am telling you that there is, and that the overwhelming might of the British state will be placed at your service.

‘We will not let talent wither, or waste, we will help all who want it, find new opportunity and develop new skills.’

In interviews at conference fringe events after his speech, Mr Sunak expanded on his views on the government finances.

He said austerity was ‘absolutely the right thing to do’ in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, as he said public services will be prioritised, in a hint at tax hikes following the pandemic.

In an interview after his Tory conference speech, he said: ‘It’s difficult for me to comment on tax policy but I think the public should expect from a Conservative Government especially a regard for public finances.

‘The public will also appreciate this year, we’ve done a lot, needed to do a lot, that was the right and sensible thing to do but clearly that can’t go on forever. That doesn’t seem to pass the common sense test.

‘And in general, once things are back to normal, shall we be borrowing lots and lots and debt clearly go up? Probably not.

‘I feel it (austerity) was absolutely the right thing to do to get what was an unsustainable borrowing situation under control. And I very much support what the Government at the time did.

‘But going forward I think what’s clear both in our manifesto and in the comments the Prime Minister and I have made is what we’re going to do is prioritise investment in public services, that’s something that people elected us to do and that’s what the country wants and expect and this time and so that’s what we will do.’

Mr Sunak said he viewed Mr Johnson as a ‘close personal friend’ and had no interest in becoming PM.

Asked if he eventually wanted the keys to No 10, Mr Sunak said: ‘No. Definitely not seeing what the Prime Minister has to deal with, this is a job hard enough for me to do.’

Mr Sunak acknowledged that the Prime Minister calls him ‘Rish’, adding: ‘I call him Prime Minister, he keeps trying to tell me to call him other things but I just stick with PM.

‘We have a close personal friendship which then spreads through the teams where there’s an enormous amount of mutual trust.’

The Chancellor said Mr Johnson’s dog Dilyn was the ‘favourite thing in the world’ for his two daughters.

Sunak says the PM is a ‘close personal friend’ – and he loves his dog 

Rishi Sunak today insisted he views Mr Johnson as a ‘close personal friend’ and has no interest in becoming PM.

The Chancellor even stressed that he loved the PM’s dog as he scrambled to kill off rumours of tensions between them. 

Asked if he eventually wanted the keys to No 10, Mr Sunak said: ‘No. Definitely not seeing what the Prime Minister has to deal with, this is a job hard enough for me to do.’

Mr Sunak acknowledged that the Prime Minister calls him ‘Rish’, adding: ‘I call him Prime Minister, he keeps trying to tell me to call him other things but I just stick with PM.

‘We have a close personal friendship which then spreads through the teams where there’s an enormous amount of mutual trust.’

The Chancellor said Mr Johnson’s dog Dilyn was the ‘favourite thing in the world’ for his two daughters.

‘Our families are very joined at that moment,’ Mr Sunak added.

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‘Our families are very joined at that moment,’ Mr Sunak added.

Amid desperate times for the cinema industry and theatres, the Chancellor also hinted that in the future there could be a version of the Eat Out scheme for the entertainment.

‘Lots of ideas have been put to me and I think there’s an appropriate time to deploy interventions like that,’ he said.

‘It might not be the right time to deploy an intervention like that but I’m very sympathetic to the idea, at the appropriate time, we should be doing what we can to drive our recovery.’ 

In an interview ahead of his speech to Tory conference, Mr Sunak said the Eat Out scheme had propped up two million jobs. 

The intervention came after Mr Johnson came under fierce questioning over his handling of the crisis, with criticism of chaotic local lockdowns and shambolic testing. He admitted yesterday that he had dropped his ‘buoyant’ style during the pandemic because it was ‘inappropriate’.

By contrast, Mr Sunak has been praised for his tone talking about the impact of the disease, and the speed with which complicated bailouts including furlough were implemented. 

Mr Johnson tried to bridge the apparent gap between their messages yesterday by saying that he wanted the public to be ‘fearless but use common sense’. 

Mr Sunak was dubbed Dishi Rishi after unveiling his August scheme of subsidised meals out to help a pub and restaurant sector badly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Treasury figures show more than 100million meals were eaten under the scheme, which gave diners a 50 per cent state-backed discount, up to a maximum of £10, on meals every Monday to Wednesday during August.

Mr Johnson told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday that the Treasury incentive ‘may have helped to spread the virus’.

But in his interview Mr Sunak said the success of the initiative had helped prop-up two million jobs and that he had no regrets about paying for it.

‘No, definitely not,’ Mr Sunak said when asked if he held any regrets.

‘We had an industry that I care deeply about because of employment. It’s over two million people.’

Mr Sunak pointed to the low rate of second-wave Covid infections in the South West, a region he claimed made the most use of the scheme, as evidence that the hospitality drive had not had an adverse health effect.

The non-drinker also expressed sympathy over public anger at the 10pm pub curfew brought in as an attempt to curb infections.

‘Everyone is very frustrated and exhausted and tired about all of this,’ he told the paper.

Cinemas and theatres could get ‘Eat Out’-style government subsidies 

Rishi Sunak has held out hope of a government boost for stricken cinemas and theatres – but not yet. 

The Chancellor hinted that in the future there could be a version of the Eat Out scheme for the entertainment sector.

‘Lots of ideas have been put to me and I think there’s an appropriate time to deploy interventions like that,’ he said.

‘It might not be the right time to deploy an intervention like that but I’m very sympathetic to the idea, at the appropriate time, we should be doing what we can to drive our recovery.’ 

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With a series of local lockdowns in place across the country, including in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and the North East of England, a third of the UK population is now living under heightened social restrictions.

But Mr Sunak – who was careful to praise Mr Johnson’s ‘extraordinary’ leadership during the pandemic – sent a warning about any future move that would see the economy shut down again.

It came with Tory anger running high over the government’s approach. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers, said patience was starting to ‘wear thin’ with local lockdowns.

Sir Graham told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: ‘When you start to get to speculation about a second lockdown or all of these regional things … I think patience really does start to wear thin and I can understand that.’

Mr Sunak is launching a new jobs scheme to help Britons left out of work as a result of the pandemic.

The £238million Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme will assist hundreds of thousands of people without work for more than three months to get back into employment. 

He said: ‘Our unprecedented support has protected millions of livelihoods and businesses since the start of the pandemic, but I’ve always been clear that we can’t save every job. 

‘I’ve spoken about the damaging effects of being out of work, but through JETS we will provide fresh opportunities to those that have sadly lost their jobs to ensure that nobody is left without hope.’

A wide range of help will be offered, including specialist advice on how people can move into growing sectors as well as CV and interview assistance.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said: ‘JETS will give recently unemployed people the helping hand they need to get back into work, boosting the prospects of more than a quarter of a million people across Britain.

‘We have provided unprecedented support for jobs during the pandemic, including through furlough and subsidising the incomes of the self-employed – doing all we can to protect people’s livelihoods – but sadly not every job can be saved. 

‘This scheme will help those left out of work as a result of Covid-19.’

She said it was one strand of the Government’s wider Plan for Jobs ‘which will also support young people on to the jobs ladder through Kickstart’ and offer the training needed to switch to new roles.

The Department for Work and Pensions is recruiting 13,500 work coaches to help deliver the programme as well as opening further job centres.  

The new Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme will assist hundreds of thousands of Britons who lost work as a result of the pandemic

The new Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme will assist hundreds of thousands of Britons who lost work as a result of the pandemic

The new Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme will assist hundreds of thousands of Britons who lost work as a result of the pandemic 

Sunak’s speech to ‘virtual’ Tory conference in full 

Being appointed Chancellor in February this year was an immense honour.

Even though my first conference speech as Chancellor isn’t quite how I expected it to be, it remains a privilege to talk to you today.

And I am here today because of so many different people.

My family, whose love sustains me.

My colleagues in Government and in Parliament, whose backing has never wavered.

My association in Richmond, North Yorkshire, who placed their trust in me, and gave me their loyalty, support and this opportunity to serve.

And my party, whose members, councillors and activists worked tirelessly to deliver a Conservative government in December last year.

Politics is a team sport, and there is always a multitude of hardworking people behind any effort.

So, I want to thank my ministerial team; Steve, Jessie, John, Kemi, Theo, Claire and James.

I also want to thank my predecessors: George, Phillip and Sajid.

It is only because of ten years of sound Conservative management of our economy that this government has been able to act with the pace and scale we have in responding to Coronavirus.

And I want to thank the Prime Minister, for entrusting me with this job and whose friendship has been invaluable.

I’ve seen up close the burden the Prime Minister carries.

We all know he has an ability to connect with people in a way few politicians manage.

It is a special and rare quality.

But what the commentators don’t see, the thing I see, is the concern and care he feels, every day, for the wellbeing of the people of our country.

Yes, it’s been difficult, challenges are part of the job, but on the big calls, in the big moments, Boris Johnson has got it right and we need that leadership.

Because we are only part way through this crisis.

What began in March as a health emergency has grown and now reaches deep into our economy and society.

Not only does it endanger lives, but jobs and education. It separates friends and family.

This government has never been blind to the difficult trade-offs and decisions coronavirus has forced upon on us.

If we had, we never would have deployed one of the most comprehensive and generous packages of support in the world.

But more than the measures themselves, it is the values behind them that I want to impress upon you.

Conservatives believe in the importance of community and belonging.

We believe in personal responsibility and pragmatism.

We believe in the nobility of work and free enterprise.

And we believe in the unbreakable bond of union that unites the four nations of our United Kingdom.

Our values are old and true and have withstood tests of strife, of terror, and even war.

They are timeless because they are a wisdom earned over generations.

And they are universal, because they are rooted in the fundamental belief that individual freedom enables both the greatest achievement and the gentlest kindness.

People looked at us last December and saw this Conservative party.

They saw a party whose values and priorities were aligned with those of the British people.

They saw a party prepared to act at a scale commensurate with the challenges our country faces and they were not wrong.

· The SELF-EMPLOYED SUPPORT SCHEME

· EAT OUT TO HELP OUT

· Our PLAN FOR JOBS

· The JOB SUPPORT SCHEME

· A VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors

· The PAY AS YOU GROW SCHEME

· A STAMP DUTY holiday

· A £2 billion GREEN HOMES GRANT programme

· The £2 billion KICKSTART SCHEME

· Nearly 1million BUSINESS GRANTS

· A 12-month BUSINESS RATES HOLIDAY

· £35bn of BOUNCE BACK LOANS to over 1million small businesses

· Over 60,000 CORONAVIRUS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION LOANS

· The FUTURE FUND

· TAX DEFERRALS

· Support for our brilliant CHARITIES

· Over £8 billion of extra funding to SUPPORT OUR MOST VULNERABLE

· A SIX-MONTH MORTGAGE HOLIDAY

· And yes, THE FURLOUGH SCHEME, a first of it’s kind intervention in UK political history, delivered at scale, devised in rapid time, that protected millions of British families at the most acute stage of this crisis.

I could go on… all these measures and more… delivered by a Conservative government as part of our plan to support jobs and livelihoods.

And whilst we would not have wished for this burden, it has been for many, for the first time in their lives, a moment in which government ceased to be distant and abstract, but became real, and felt, and something of which people could be proud.

Action met words.

This Conservative government stood between the people and the danger and we always will.

But we haven’t done it alone.

You, the people, have been with us.

Wherever I look, I see acts of decency and bravery.

Barbara and Richard Wilson in Cumbria who furloughed the staff from their butchers’ shop but topped up their wages, so they didn’t have any extra worries about bills.

Kevin Butler, who used the self-employed support scheme to help meet the cost of living whilst his partner worked so he could home school their daughter.

John, Norma and Richard King who run the Bull’s Head Inn in Shropshire, who did the right thing when we asked, made their pub Covid compliant, and re-opened using Eat Out to Help Out in August.

Thank you to all those business owners, large and small, who are making the right decisions for workers and customers.

We are now seeing our economy go through changes as a result of coronavirus that can’t be ignored.

I have always said I couldn’t protect every job or every business. No chancellor could.

And even though I have said it, the pain of knowing it, only grows with each passing day.

So, I am committing myself to a single priority – to create, support and extend opportunity to as many people as I can.

Because even if this moment is more difficult than any you have ever faced, even if it feels like there is no hope, I am telling you that there is, and that the overwhelming might of the British state will be placed at your service.

We will not let talent wither, or waste, we will help all who want it, find new opportunity and develop new skills.

Through more apprenticeships, more training and a lifetime skills guarantee.

Our Kickstart Scheme will help hundreds of thousands of young people into good quality work.

And we will help small businesses adapt.

That’s why we have delivered Government backed loans, tax deferrals and tax cuts.

In a free market economy it is the entrepreneur, who is critical.

And we will make it easier for those with the ambition and appetite to take risks and be bold, to do what they do best and create jobs and growth.

And we will protect the public finances. Over the medium term getting our borrowing and debt back under control.

We have a sacred responsibility to future generations to leave the public finances strong, and through careful management of our economy, this Conservative government will always balance the books.

If instead we argue there is no limit on what we can spend, that we can simply borrow our way out of any hole, what is the point in us?

I have never pretended there is some easy cost-free answer.

Hard choices are everywhere.

I won’t stop trying to find ways to support people and businesses.

I will always be pragmatic.

The Winter Economy Plan announced only two weeks ago is but the latest stage of our planned economic response.

I will keep listening, keep striving to be creative in response to the challenges our economy faces, and where I can, I will act.

I will not give up, no matter how difficult it is.

The British people and British businesses won’t give up.

I know this because of what I said at the beginning.

We share the same values.

The Conservative party and the country.

And these values are not devoid of meaning to people.

They are about protecting that which is meaningful to them.

Their family, their home, their job, their ability to choose for themselves what is best for them and those they love.

To create second chances, to see potential met, and to extend the awesome power of opportunity to all who seek it.

To answer questions of character with action not rhetoric.

To put the people first, their hopes and their aspirations.

And above all, to be worthy of the great trust they have placed in us.

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A rare miss for Team Rishi: Normally polished Chancellor looks ‘awkward’ as he struggles with auto-cue and his eyes ‘dart around’ during jobs speech – as allies blame Tory HQ for setting up podium badly

Rishi Sunak has come under fire for an awkward party conference speech beset by technical problems this morning, with his eyes ‘darting back and forth’ as he tried to read the auto-cue. 

The Chancellor’s speech cut out shortly after it began and he struggled to read off a teleprompter that appeared to have been put in the wrong place, with the camera angle changing several times. 

Baffled viewers also said he sounded like he was ‘accepting an Oscar’, hitting out at his ‘victorious-sounding’ speech despite dire warnings of tax raises and economic hardship to come. 

In the keynote address, Sunak also conceded that he will not be able to save all jobs as Britain tries to recover from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, despite the warnings, the Chancellor used a large part of his speech to lavish praise on his family, Conservative supporters, predecessors and the Prime Minister, sharing his gratitude for their support.

His wasn’t the only speech to be hampered by tech problems, with Home Secretary Priti Patel also struggling to read from a teleprompter and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab facing away from the camera during his address. There are fears among senior Tories that the issues could affect Boris Johnson’s address tomorrow. 

Allies of the Chancellor blamed the way Conservative HQ had set up the auto-cue and podium for the awkward imagery. 

‘It’s not that hard to get the auto-cue just below camera eye level,’ one said. ‘Let’s hope it’s sorted for the PM tomorrow.’ 

The gaffe is a rare misstep for Sunak, who has won plaudits for his slick, well put-together appearance during the pandemic, in contrast to the bumbling performances of some of his ministerial colleagues. 

Allegra Stratton: A former ITV and BBC news presenter who quit journalism to spin for Rishi Sunak

Allegra Stratton is a former ITV journalist who has been Rishi Sunak’s director of strategic communications at the Treasury since this April.

The 39-year-old mother-of-two quit ITV News to enter politics after co-presenting Peston on Sunday with Robert Peston.

She also served as ITV News’ national editor, making her first appearance on the broadcaster’s News at Ten programme in January 2016. 

Before that she worked at the BBC between 2012-2015 as political editor of Newsnight, replacing Michael Crick who left to become a correspondent for Channel 4.

Previously she was the Guardian’s political correspondent and presented the newspaper’s Politics Weekly podcast with Tom Clark.

Ms Stratton has also worked as a producer for the BBC, on the foreign desk at The Times and wrote for the Independent and the New Statesman.

Before embarking on her journalism career, Ms Stratton attended Cambridge University. 

She is married to James Forsyth who is the political editor of The Spectator magazine. 

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It is also a surprising blunder for his highly-rated PR guru Allegra Stratton, the former BBC and ITV News journalist who is widely seen as being behind the Chancellor’s positive approval ratings among the British public.

Ms Stratton is the favourite to front the government’s new White House-style daily press briefings set to begin later this month. 

She has been credited with helping to boost the Chancellor’s public profile and increasing his popularity during the coronavirus crisis, having joined his team earlier this year.

Boris Johnson was also said to be impressed by her impact and is thought to have sounded her out to front the new  televised press briefings.

She is now on the final shortlist following a day of interviews and screen tests at No 10 a few weeks ago.

The Prime Minister is expected to interview Ms Stratton and the other candidate for the six-figure salaried position – a ‘left-field’ BBC presenter, according to sources – to test their personal ‘chemistry’.

Ms Stratton, a 39-year-old mother-of-two, quit ITV News to join Mr Sunak’s increasingly powerful Treasury operation.

The Cambridge University graduate, who is married to James Forsyth, the political editor of The Spectator, has been the favourite since No 10 said that it was introducing the afternoon TV briefings as part of a bid to communicate more directly with voters.

Mr Johnson has declared himself to be ‘impressed’ by Ms Stratton, and recently invited her to join him at Chequers.

Downing Street has struggled to attract a wide field of experienced broadcasters to apply for the job because of the lavish pay packets of the television industry – and the risk they will become the public face of the Government’s pratfalls.

The new briefings will take place in a revamped No 9 Downing Street, which is currently being turned into a media centre.

However, today’s keynote address from the Chancellor is sure to raise eyebrows in Westminster. 

Baffled viewers took to social media to share their confusion at the tone of the speech.

One said: ‘It’s not an Oscars acceptance speech #RishiSunak.’

A second added: ‘About to have breakfast until shiny happy clean Rishi Sunak has arrived on my news feed thanking his support network & predecessors by first names sounds like an award acceptance speech surprisingly not hungry anymore more ewwwwwwwwwww.’

While a third said: ‘Rishi Sunak, the sycophant rises. That was one of the most nausea creating speeches I have ever heard. The kind of speech made on behalf of despots and dictators.’ 

The technical issues were also highlighted on social media. 

One person said: ‘Rishi Sunak, another world beating tech failure. PS learn how to read from an autocue.’

A second said: ‘Another technical glitch. Fortunately, this time we only lost the video link to Rishi Sunak, not thousands of lives because people potentially infected with Covid-19 weren’t contacted.’

While a third joked: ‘ Who put the autocue so far to the side for Rishi’s speech?’ 

The speech was about 10 minutes long in total, with the first two minutes seeing the Chancellor thank a host of people.

Allegra Stratton, a former presenter on ITV's Peston on Sunday programme, is widely seen as being behind the Chancellor's positive approval ratings among the British public

Allegra Stratton, a former presenter on ITV's Peston on Sunday programme, is widely seen as being behind the Chancellor's positive approval ratings among the British public

Allegra Stratton, a former presenter on ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme, is widely seen as being behind the Chancellor’s positive approval ratings among the British public

The Chancellor suffered technical issues during the address, with his speech cutting out shortly after it began 

He said: ‘Being appointed Chancellor in February this year was an immense honour. Even though my first conference speech as Chancellor isn’t quite how I expected it to be, it remains a privilege to talk to you today.

‘And I am here today because of so many different people. My family, whose love sustains me.

‘My colleagues in Government and in Parliament, whose backing has never wavered. My association in Richmond, North Yorkshire, who placed their trust in me, and gave me their loyalty, support and this opportunity to serve.

‘And my party, whose members, councillors and activists worked tirelessly to deliver a Conservative government in December last year.’

The Chancellor went on to describe politics as a ‘team sport’ and paid tribute to his colleagues and predecessors, hailing them by their first names. 

He also described Boris Johnson of having a ‘special and rare quality’ and defended his handling of the coronavirus crisis.  

Sunak said: ‘Politics is a team sport, and there is always a multitude of hardworking people behind any effort. So, I want to thank my ministerial team; Steve, Jessie, John, Kemi, Theo, Claire and James.

‘I also want to thank my predecessors: George, Phillip and Sajid. It is only because of ten years of sound Conservative management of our economy that this government has been able to act with the pace and scale we have in responding to Coronavirus.

‘And I want to thank the Prime Minister, for entrusting me with this job and whose friendship has been invaluable.

‘I’ve seen up close the burden the Prime Minister carries. We all know he has an ability to connect with people in a way few politicians manage. It is a special and rare quality.

‘But what the commentators don’t see, the thing I see, is the concern and care he feels, every day, for the wellbeing of the people of our country. Yes, it’s been difficult, challenges are part of the job, but on the big calls, in the big moments, Boris Johnson has got it right and we need that leadership.’

Later, Sunak delivered a stark warning that tax rises and spending cuts might be needed after the immediate crisis passes. 

Rishi Sunak (pictured visiting Octopus energy with Boris Johnson this morning) mounted a staunch defence of his Eat Out subsidies after the PM admitted yesterday they might have contributed to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases

Rishi Sunak (pictured visiting Octopus energy with Boris Johnson this morning) mounted a staunch defence of his Eat Out subsidies after the PM admitted yesterday they might have contributed to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases

Rishi Sunak (pictured visiting Octopus energy with Boris Johnson this morning) mounted a staunch defence of his Eat Out subsidies after the PM admitted yesterday they might have contributed to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases

He said ‘over the medium term’ the government will need to ‘get our borrowing and debt back under control’.

‘This Conservative government will always balance the books,’ he said. 

The speech came after Sunak risked fueling the speculation of tensions with Mr Johnson branded the 10pm pubs curfew ‘frustrating’ and insisted he had ‘no regrets’ about the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

By contrast the PM admitted yesterday that the dining subsidies might have contributed to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases. 

The two men were pictured together visiting an energy firm this morning in an apparent bid to smooth over the situation. 

Sunak told the conference – being held virtually due to the pandemic – that he was ready to do whatever he could to protect the economy. 

But he also signalled that there will have to be a reckoning for the government’s huge outlay.

‘We will protect the public finances. Over the medium term getting our borrowing and debt back under control,’ he said.

‘We have a sacred responsibility to future generations to leave the public finances strong, and through careful management of our economy, this Conservative government will always balance the books.

‘If instead we argue there is no limit on what we can spend, that we can simply borrow our way out of any hole, what is the point in us?’ 

Sunak has been cementing his status as the leading Cabinet ‘hawk’ on the need to get the economy running again, winning plaudits from MPs who are furious with Mr Johnson for curbing civil liverties and trashing business.

That has sparked claims of tensions between the two politicians. But Sunak tried to draw a line under the rumours today with a gushing tribute to the premier.

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