Brandon Lewis has been backing Liz Truss’s bid to become the next Tory Party leader, defending her U-turn on plans to pay public sector workers based on their location. Ms Truss issued a statement insisting she had not included the proposal in her manifesto but faced backlash as pictures of the original proposal emerged. BBC host Martha Kearney challenged Mr Lewis: “Why did it say in the press release then this could save up to £8.8m a year, the potential saving if the system were to be adopted for all public sector workers in the long term?”
Mr Lewis told Radio 4’s Today Programme: “Well as you say the word in there is if, that is not something that was ever proposed and as I say, as you said in the outset Liz made it very clear yesterday, that this is not a policy that has been taken forward.”
Ms Kearney added: “So she was floating ideas then, she’s not giving us a plan for a Liz Truss Government?”
Mr Lewis said: “Well no she is giving a plan for a Liz Truss Government, she’s been outlining quite specifically a whole range of pieces of work that we want to do around education to make sure that people can benefit the way my constituents have.
“And the improvement in education can offer, that is a key thing to levelling up.
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“She’s given a very bold and ambitious plan around tax and I’m sure that people can benefit from having more money in their pockets, in the first seven weeks of her leadership rather than the next seven years, potentially.”
Ms Kearney added: “Well this is exactly that kind of thing, the way t was put forward was that this is a bold and ambitious plan to save money.
“She could be Prime Minister, in fact, she looks set to be Prime Minister in a matter of weeks, is it really fair or accurate to talk about being misrepresented?
“When the truth is, this was just a policy that went down like a lead balloon, and that she then decided to drop.”
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Politicians have been doing the calculations of what the policy would mean for those working in the public sector.
According to the opposition candidate, Rishi Sunak’s team: “The entire civil service pay bill is £16.5 billion. You’d have to more than halve civil service salaries to save £8.8 billion.
“The calculation the Liz campaign has done to get to £8.8 billion is based on a report that looked across the whole public sector workforce and therefore includes cutting the pay of nurses, police officers and the armed forces – the report explicitly says ‘all public sector workers’ and lists no exceptions.”