Rishi Sunak is facing pressure to protect the triple lock on state pensions – and a growing backlash over his decision to reappoint Suella Braverman as home secretary.
The new prime minister has confirmed that a planned Halloween budget will be delayed until 17 November so the latest economic forecasts can be taken into account.
But Downing Street has refused to confirm whether pensions will increase in line with inflation come April, which is running above 10%.
Conservative MP Maria Caulfield has told Sky News that the lack of a confirmation worries her.
“When the government doesn’t confirm one way or another, the speculation mounts and vacuums are created and people start to worry. I’ve got pensioners who are worried,” she said.
Earlier this month, Ms Caulfield had warned she would not vote to end the triple lock. It means pensions must rise by average earnings, inflation or 2.5% – whichever is highest.
She had tweeted: “Pensioners should not be paying the price for the cost of living crisis whether caused by the war in Ukraine or mini-budgets.”
Speaking to Sophy Ridge, Ms Caulfield expressed hope that the triple lock would be preserved given how Mr Sunak had told PMQs he was standing on the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto.
Mr Sunak’s press secretary has said no comment will be made “ahead of any fiscal statements or budgets”, but added: “What I can say is he has shown through his record as chancellor that he will do what’s right and compassionate for the most vulnerable.”
In other developments, former Tory chairman Sir Jake Berry has claimed that Suella Braverman committed “multiple breaches of the ministerial code”.
She was controversially reinstated as home secretary during the PM’s reshuffle – six days after resigning for sending an official document from a personal email account.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has described these allegations as “extraordinary and very serious”, asking the new PM on Twitter: “What security warnings did you ignore when you reappointed the home secretary?”
When asked about Ms Braverman’s return to the Home Office, Maria Caulfield defended her – and told Sky News she had been “very open and honest about it and very quick to react”.
Ms Caulfield went on to argue that it “wasn’t in her gift to be reappointed”.
During PMQs yesterday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Sunak of having done a “grubby deal” with Ms Braverman – a figure popular on the right of the party – in order to secure the keys to Number 10.
In separate developments, the new PM also confirmed that he was reinstating the ban on fracking that Liz Truss had controversially lifted during her brief premiership.
Speaking at the London Press Club Awards last night, newly reappointed Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove declared that “boring is back” following “12 months of turbulence”.
Meanwhile, government appointments continued late into the evening – with the most notable change seeing former transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan demoted to Foreign Office minister.
Mr Sunak also found time to attend a Diwali celebration at 10 Downing Street last night after the Hindu festival of lights earlier this week.
“I will do everything I can in this job to build a Britain where our children and our grandchildren can light their Diyas and look to the future with hope,” he posted on social media afterwards.