Tom Tugendhat vows to cut fuel duty by 10p a litre is he is made Prime Minister

Mr Tugendhat, Rishi Sunak and Kemi Badenoch outlined their plans to to become Prime Minister

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Tom Tugendhat said the UK must not “retreat” economically and politically as he promised tax cuts to help ease the cost-of-living crisis and a “clean start” following the scandal-hit Boris Johnson years.

The former military officer said the British people wanted a government to “not only hold the line but to advance their aspirations”.

But he said there was a “creeping sense of despair about our collective future”, with a debt-ridden economy, political division at home and danger abroad.

“They have asked us to advance, and yet we have retreated,” he said at the formal launch of his campaign.

Tom Tugendhat
Tom Tugendhat

“In a moment that is so desperate for so many — and when our service is most needed — we have retreated.

“We have retreated into the pettiness of a politics that is more about personality than principle.

“We have retreated into division when we desperately need unity.

“When our nation needed our party to function, we retreated into faction.

“When the moment demanded service, we delivered scandal.”

But the former Intelligence Corps officer said: “I cannot accept retreat.”

To help address the squeeze on living standards he promised to slash fuel duty but also pledged measures to boost investment.

The Tory leadership candidate said: “I am here to make the case that our economy can only prosper if we believe that people — and not Westminster — know best how to spend their money.

Tom Tugendhat speaking at the launch of his campaign to be Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister
Tom Tugendhat speaking at the launch of his campaign to be Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister

“I know the pain families are feeling now. That is why my first pledge is to take fuel duty down by 10p a litre.

“My second is to reverse the national insurance rise.

“This isn’t about percentages. It’s about jobs.

“That’s why I didn’t vote for the increase then, and I wouldn’t now.”

In what he said was one of the benefits of Brexit, the EU requirement for insurance firms to hold substantial cash reserves to cover potential losses would be eased – which he claimed would free up around £100 billion for investment.

Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Mr Tugendhat, who has never held ministerial office, said his experience in the forces stood him in good stead to lead the country.

He was responding to a jibe from Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who is supporting leadership rival Rishi Sunak, that it was no time to learn on the job.

Mr Tugendhat said: “The reality is that the job of prime minister is unlike every other job in government. It’s not a management job, it’s not a departmental job. It’s a job that demands vision and leadership, it demands a willingness to serve and to throw everything in the duty of serving the British people.

“This is no time to learn. What this is, is a time to look at a record of service and a record of delivery in some of the most difficult and trying conditions around the world, and to see that this isn’t learning on the job, this is putting all that experience to work on the job.”