LONDON, Aug 21 — Tory leadership favourite Liz Truss downplayed today the prospect of a UK recession, while the man tipped to be her finance minister vowed "help is coming" over the soaring cost of living.
Truss, the frontrunner in polls to beat rival Rishi Sunak and become Britain's next prime minister, pledged in an interview to lead a "small business and self-employed revolution" if in power.
"There is too much talk that there's going to be a recession," Truss told The Sun on Sunday tabloid.
"I don't believe that's inevitable. We can unleash opportunity here in Britain."
She argued that the UK should create the economic conditions to produce "the next Google or the next Facebook".
"It's about that level of ambition," Truss added.
In a separate interview with the Mail on Sunday, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng — who is expected to head the finance ministry in Truss's government — said he understood the "deep anxiety" sweeping Britain as decades-high inflation bit.
"But I want to reassure the British people that help is coming," he added, telling the paper that work had started on "the best package of measures" to allow the next prime minister to "hit the ground running".
Either Foreign Secretary Truss or ex-finance minister Sunak will replace outgoing leader Boris Johnson after the result of the summer-long contest is announced on September 5.
The victor, set to formally take power the next day, faces a daunting challenge, with the Bank of England predicting a recession later this year as well as continued rising prices.
Truss has vowed immediate tax cuts rather than direct financial handouts to help people struggling to pay their surging bills, drawing stinging criticism from Sunak, his allies and others.
Yesterday, senior UK Conservative lawmaker Michael Gove accused her of taking a "holiday from reality" with the tax-slashing plans amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Gove, who has held a raft of cabinet roles and previously stood to be Tory leader, instead endorsed Rishi Sunak for the top job.
"I am deeply concerned that the framing of the leadership debate by many has been a holiday from reality," Gove said in an article in the The Times newspaper.
"The answer to the cost-of-living crisis cannot be simply to reject further 'handouts' and cut tax."
He added Truss' plans to reverse a recent rise in national insurance taxes earmarked for the health and social care sector "would favour the wealthy", while slashing corporation tax would help "big businesses, not small entrepreneurs".
"I cannot see how safeguarding the stock options of FTSE 100 executives should ever take precedence over supporting the poorest in our society, but at a time of want it cannot be the right priority," Gove said.
The 54-year-old, who previously supported the right-wing lesser known MP Kemi Badenoch in the leadership race before it narrowed to the final pair, said he now backed Sunak.
"I know what the job requires. And Rishi has it," he added.
Gove -- who until July led the government's department for levelling up, housing and communities, and has previously led the education and justice ministries -- indicated he was not likely to take on another role.
"I do not expect to be in government again. But it was the privilege of my life to spend 11 years in the cabinet under three prime ministers," he added. — AFP