RISHI Sunak has said he would not rule out planning for blackouts if he were to become prime minister on Tuesday as he insisted he can't help everyone with the rise in energy bills.

The former chancellor – who is hotly tipped to miss out on securing the keys to Number 10 at the expense of rival Liz Truss – said it would be “responsible” not to disregard the possibility of blackouts as a way of conserving energy amid soaring prices.

Asked by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg if he would plan for blackouts, he replied: “We shouldn’t rule anything out. We’re facing a genuine emergency.

“By the way, across Europe, those plans are being drawn up.”

Kuenssberg grilled him further asking whether the UK should prepare for such an event to which he said: “We shouldn’t rule anything out because the situation is serious.

“That sounds like quite an extreme thing to say when we say blackouts, but there are probably simpler, practical things which are about conserving the use of energy at a time when we’re facing a challenge like this which should remain a tool in the toolbox.

“We don’t want to be in that situation [a blackout] but I think it’s responsible not to rule it out.”

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The winner of the Tory leadership contest will be announced on Monday before the new prime minister is appointed by the Queen at Balmoral on Tuesday in a break from tradition.

Sunak added he does not believe the problem of rising energy bills can be solved “for everybody”.

Asked what he would do on day one about energy bills, he said: “I think this is the most pressing issue facing the country.

“I said that from the beginning of the campaign and that’s why I set out a clear plan and framework for how I would go about addressing it and providing support to people.

“I think everyone is going to need some help given the scale of the challenge. And then two other groups of people who will need further help. That’s those on the lowest incomes, about a third of all households in the country, and then the third group of pensioners.”

He said he would provide direct financial support to the latter two groups, but, asked how much people would get under his plans, Sunak said: “It wouldn’t be right or responsible for me to sit here and give you the exact to the pennies and the pound amount, and that’s because I’m not inside. I haven’t seen all the numbers, the nation’s finances.

“When you have a situation like this, I don’t think you can solve the problem for everybody and it would be wrong to pretend otherwise.”