Rishi Sunak to skip Conservative party conference

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak will not attend the Conservative Party conference this year, according to reports.

The event is taking place just weeks after Mr Sunak lost to Liz Truss in the race to become prime minister.

Mr Sunak has been keeping a low profile since the leadership race ended and will reportedly miss the Tory Party conference in Birmingham, which will start on Sunday.

It is believed the Richmond MP will be in Yorkshire instead. The Sunday Times quoted an ally of Mr Sunak as saying he would give Ms Truss “all the space she needs to own the moment”.

Mr Sunak has been contacted for comment by The Independent.

Several other senior figures – the former health secretary Sajid Javid and Treasury select committee chief Mel Stride – have said they are not going to the conference, according to Sky News.

Former Brexit minister David Davis told The Independent that he would not be attending the conference this year.

The Tory party conference comes as the government faces fallout over the new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s tax-cutting mini-Budget, after which the pound slumped to an all-time low on Monday.

Mr Sunak had urged caution over tax-slashing measures proposed by Ms Truss during his leadership campaign, warning they could harm the economy.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss went head to head in the Tory leadership race, which ended earlier this month (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss went head to head in the Tory leadership race, which ended earlier this month (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A Tory backbench source, who is a supporter of Mr Sunak, said on Wednesday: “Governing is serious, grown-up business – it is somewhat depressing to see all the predictions Rishi’s campaign made come true in alarming fashion.”

Mel Strike, a backer of Mr Sunak and chair of the Treasury select committee, has also condemned the “unfunded tax cuts”.

“There is a lot of risk there at the moment, that cannot be denied,” he said, before calling on the chancellor to “demonstrate exactly where this additional growth is going to come from such that these tax cuts … so the whole economic picture can work”.

Tory MP Robert Largan said he thought it was “a mistake” to have cut the top income tax rate of 45 per cent when “the government’s fiscal room for manoeuvre is so limited”.

He added: “This is a deeply worrying time. Elected officials need to be honest about the choices we face and government needs to take a pragmatic, fiscally responsible approach.”

Mr Kwarteng has sought to defend his mini-Budget from criticism and vowed to push ahead with the tax-cutting measures.

“We are confident in our long-term strategy to drive economic growth through tax cuts and supply-side reform,” he said at a meeting with banking and investment chiefs on Tuesday.

“I’m confident that with our growth plan and the upcoming medium-term fiscal plan – with close co-operation with the Bank – our approach will work.”