Rishi Sunak hit by claims he ‘went slow’ on punishing Russia for invading Ukraine

Rishi Sunak delivers a speech at Vaculug tyre specialists at Gonerby Hill Foot, Grantham, as part of his campaign to be leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party and the next prime minister. Picture date: Saturday July 23, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

RISHI Sunak has been hit by claims he “went slow” on punishing Russia for invading Ukraine.

Sources say Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss were rebuffed when they approached the Treasury in early April to try and phase out Russian gas imports to Britain by 2023.

Rishi Sunak has been hit by claims he “went slow” on punishing Russia

Liz Truss were rebuffed when she suggesting phasing out Russian gas imports

Ms Truss announced the anti-Vladimir Putin policy nearly three weeks later at her Mansion House Speech on April 29.

Mr Sunak’s allies insist he was supportive, just not of an immediate embargo on all Russian gas.

A source close to the former Chancellor said: “Rishi backed the policy and spearheaded the most severe of economic sanctions on Russia that forced the Ruble to crash and the Russian economy to falter.”

This criticism comes as Mr Sunak prepares to face Ms Truss in three head-to-head debates this week.

The pair will battle it out over questions from our readers just hours after a BBC debate in Stoke-on-Trent this evening.

And then they will face hundreds of true blue Tory members at the first official party hustings in Leeds — which is being streamed online — on Thursday night in gruelling back-to-back clashes.

The three telly showdowns come in a make-or-break week for the pair — as Conservative HQ starts mailing out ballot papers to 160,000 members next week.

Ahead of that, they spent the ­weekend bickering about tax, borders and who is toughest on China.

Ex-Chancellor Mr Sunak, who trails Foreign Secretary Ms Truss in the polls — by 38 per cent to 62 per cent — will get out a ­“policy bazooka” this week to try to prove he is the insurgent change ­candidate in the race.

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