NEW Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has said there will be 20 per cent cuts in every department should he become the prime minister.

He feels this would be the best way to give him the necessary “headroom” to impose tax cuts. 

Asked to confirm his plans by Sky News, Zahawi said: “That’s what I want to make sure we get to. 

“That will give me the headroom to be able to deliver tax cuts which I want to deliver.”

Speaking to The National, the SNP's Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss has responsed to Zahawi's proposals, saying: "Massive public spending cuts are clearly not the solution to the cost of living crisis that over a decade of Tory austerity and fantasy economics have contributed to.

“When families are struggling to put food on the table they aren’t looking for deep government spending cuts, they’re looking for serious action to help them through a crisis of this Tory government’s making."

She added that Zahawi and the rest of the prospective candidates are "one and the same" with Boris Johnson and that they are part of the same party who have been all too happy to slash spending and impose brutal Tory austerity on the UK."

Thewliss continued: "“No matter who replaces Boris Johnson, Scotland will be forced to suffer another unelected Tory leader they didn’t vote for. 

"Thankfully the people of Scotland will have the choice between a progressive independent Scotland ready to tackle the issues of the day, or the prospect of decades more of Tory rule, in a referendum on the 19th October 2023.”

Zahawi also pledged to publish his tax returns annually should he win the race to become the next Conservative leader.

He felt he was being targeted after questions were reportedly raised about his personal finances.

He said: “I was clearly being smeared, being told that the Serious Fraud Office, that the National Crime Agency, that HMRC are looking into me.

“I’m not aware of this, I have always declared my taxes, I’ve paid my taxes in the UK.

“I will answer any questions HMRC has of me but I will go further.

“I’m going to make a commitment today that if I’m Prime Minister, I think the right thing to do is to publish my accounts annually because I think we need to take this issue off the table.”

Zahawi was pushed on whether or not these accounts would be backdated.

“I will look at what the options are in terms of backdating or just publishing annually.

“I don’t think being retrospective is right. I was in business before, I came out of that, of course I’m now in politics.”

Zahawi said he didn’t want to get into how wealthy he was and that it was "not right to go into numbers because I will probably get it wrong”.

He also answered questions on the scandal over the taxpayer-funded bill for heating a stable for his horses which he declared to be a “deeply embarrassing” and genuine mistake”.

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There are now eleven candidates bidding to become the next Prime Minister, including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.