A LETTER from a top civil servant in the Treasury has shown that claims made by Rishi Sunak in last night’s televised debate against Keir Starmer should not have been presented “as having been produced by the civil service”.

Last night, Sunak repeatedly claimed that Labour’s spending plans would result in a £2000 tax rise for people living in the UK. 

At one point during the debate, he said: “Independent Treasury officials have costed Labour’s policies and they amount to a £2000 tax rise for every working family”.

However, a letter from permanent secretary in the Treasury, James Bowler, appears to entirely undermine Sunak’s claim and expose that the prime minister was lying about who produced the £2000 figure.

In a letter to shadow chief secretary of the Treasury Darren Jones, Bowler wrote:

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"As you will expect, civil servants were not involved in the production or presentation of the Conservative Party’s document 'Labour’s Tax Rises' or in the calculation of the total figure used ... the £38bn figure used in the Conservative Party’s publication includes costs beyond those provided by the Civil Service.

"I agree that any costings derived from other sources or produced by other organisations should not be presented as having been produced by the Civil Service.

“I have reminded ministers and advisers that this should be the case.”

Labour candidate Jonathan Ashworth said the Tories had been “caught red-handed”.

During an appearance on LBC, he said: “It has just broken on Twitter, or X as it’s now called, that the permanent secretary of the Treasury wrote to Tory ministers telling them that they could not use these figures, so they have been caught red-handed lying to the British public.

“Every single policy that we put forward in this campaign will be fully costed and will explain where the money is coming from.”

Earlier he told BBC Radio 4 that Sunak was no better than Boris Johnson when it came to honesty.

He said: “Rishi Sunak was resorting to lying because he is desperate and what do desperate people do when in a corner? They lie.

“We saw it with Boris Johnson over parties in Downing Street in lockdown, and Rishi Sunak has exposed himself as no better and no different than Boris Johnson with his lies last night.”

Despite the letter showing that the Treasury did not put its name to the £2000 figure, Cabinet minister Claire Coutinho insisted the Prime Minister’s claim is correct.

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The Energy Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “Firstly, these are official costings from the Treasury, based on policies that the Labour Party has set out in documents and that they’ve said will be in the manifesto.”

SNP candidate Pete Wishart said that Starmer should have been able to call out Sunak’s figure immediately.

He said on Twitter/X: “The thing is Starmer didn't have the guile or political nous to close it down immediately. He then gifted Sunak a number of political hits.

“Why we need strong SNP voices representing the people of Scotland at Westminster.”