Campaign Update: North of the Border Edition

Good Tuesday morning. There are 18 days left of the Tory leadership campaign. Today the candidates travel to Scotland, with a sold-out members’ hustings kicking off this evening in Perth.

Today’s new policy:

  • Surprise, surprise: today it’s all about Scotland. Liz is set to outline her plan to “turbocharge business investment, drive growth and boost exports” north of the border.
  • To do that, she plans to end to the 150% tariff on Scotch Whisky in India “to boost exports and reduce SME trade barriers“, and give parliamentary privilege to members of the Scottish Parliament. Liz says the latter move will allow for “more robust questioning of ministers and increase the powers of the Scottish Parliament to hold the Scottish Government to account.” So much for “ignoring” Nicola…
  • She’ll also reiterate her previously announced plans to introduce investment zones, reverse the National Insurance rise, and cut corporation tax. Just in case anybody forgot…

Cost of Living:

  • The Times reports Liz will offer “targeted support” this winter to vulnerable and low income households, rather than increasing the £400 energy bill grant currently set for every household. Steven Swinford and Chris Smyth claim a PM Truss will offer a “mix and match approach” that will focus on “increasing benefits such as universal credit and pension credit” instead of handing cash to everyone regardless of income. Nothing absolute yet, although we probably shouldn’t expect the final bill to touch the £30 billion (at least) proposed by Sir Keir yesterday… 

In other news:

  • Last night Liz picked up another defector, with former Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns dumping Rishi and turning to Liz because, as he puts it in his Mail+ piece, “the future of our Union depends on it.” He’s the third MP to ditch Rishi after Robert Buckland and Chris Skidmore.
  • A new poll from Redfield & Wilton Strategies puts Liz 4 points ahead of Starmer in a head-to-head contest, with Liz on 41% (+3), Starmer on 37% (+2), and 22% undecided (-4). Liz and her team will be pleased, especially since last weekend’s Mail on Sunday polling from Lord Ashcroft gave Starmer the edge over both Tory candidates.
  • Her spokesperson said:

“This latest poll confirms what we are hearing around the country: Liz’s bold and ambitious plan is resonating with voters who know she will deliver for them. It’s clear that only Liz can beat Keir Starmer at the next election.”

Today’s new policies:

Two big policy briefings from Camp Rishi today: one on Scotland, another on the Civil Service. First up…

Scotland:

  • Will announce a plan to massively beef up Westminster’s presence in Holyrood, with Scottish Civil Service leaders required to attend annual UK Parliament Select Committee hearings, and the Scottish Government compelled to publish more detailed and consistent data on public service delivery.
  • UK government ministers will also be instructed to become “more visible” in Holyrood, including attending more Select Committee hearings, to “reinforce the collective responsibility of the Union“. And probably to upset the SNP.
  • Sunak says this morning:

“For too long the SNP has been able to obscure its failures by picking and choosing the data it publishes – I would change that, ensuring the Scottish Government’s record could be held to account, while ensuring our public services are better joined up. Scottish senior civil servants will also face greater scrutiny, with the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government required to appear annually at a UK Parliament Select Committee hearing.”

Civil Service:

Rishi is also unveiling his plan to “shakeup” Whitehall, which is composed of six main parts:

  • Tackle “groupthink” and ensure all Senior Civil Servants spend at least a year outside Whitehall before they’re eligible for promotion
  • Improve efficiency and reward expertise by “ending the unnecessary churn of staff” who leap from department to department
  • Cut down on the overall Civil Service headcount and demand cost-cutting efficiencies from quangos.
  • Toughen performance management” to recognise talent over tenure.
  • Improve the regionality of the Civil Service by moving more of it out of London.
  • Restarting the Fast Stream, with assessment centres in every region and an emphasis on placements outside London.

Bookies Odds (Previous in Brackets):

  • Liz Truss 1/16 (nc)
  • Rishi Sunak 13/2 (nc)

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