THE Tories need to be bolder in defending tax cuts for the better off, Liz Truss, the Chief Treasury Secretary and one of the frontrunners to be the next Chancellor, has insisted.

Ms Truss, an ally of Boris Johnson, said the Conservatives should make the case for people earning £60,000 to be given a tax break.

The Norfolk MP acknowledged she was "not yet at Number 11" but joked about her ambitions for the role.

Philip Hammond, the current Chancellor, is widely expected to be sacked by Mr Johnson if he wins the Tory leadership race later this month and becomes Prime Minister with Ms Truss or Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, tipped to replace him.

Mr Johnson has put forward plans for a package of tax cuts, including for people earning more than £50,000.

The move led to a clash with Jeremy Hunt in the televised debate with the Foreign Secretary claiming it was sending a signal that the Tories were "a party of the rich".

But Ms Truss, addressing journalists at a Westminster lunch, said: "The reason Boris is getting flak for this is that the Conservative Party haven't been prepared to make these arguments for at least a decade."

The Treasury Minister, who said Margaret Thatcher's tax-cutting Chancellor Lord Lawson was her favourite occupant of No 11, defended Mr Johnson's plans.

"If people feel, on an income of £55,000 that they have entered the higher rate tax band and that's not fair, then that's a problem and it can stop people wanting to aspire to earn more and be more successful," she explained.

Mr Johnson's proposal was part of a package and the Government had already cut income tax for lower earners, said the Cabinet minister.

"If we are never, ever prepared to say we are going to cut taxes for people on earnings of £60,000, that's a problem; you have to look at the tax system as a whole."

Ms Truss has made little secret of her ambition to become the UK's first female chancellor.

Noting how arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg was being touted to replace her as Chief Secretary, she said: "As outgoing Chief Secretary, I leave the public finances in good shape; the deficit is now down to one per cent, the lowest since 2002. Much better shape than when [Labour's] Liam Byrne left his infamous note saying: 'There's no money left.'

"My note will be different; it will say: 'Jacob, if you need anything, I'll be just down the hall.'"

In response, John McDonnell for Labour said: "This is back to the 1980s from Liz Truss and the Tories, with tax cuts for the rich and increasing inequality. It's hard to believe that they haven't learned the lessons of nearly a decade of Tory austerity."

Ms Truss, who was raised in Paisley, commenting on possible new post-holders in a Johnson government, quipped: “Let's just say there's never been a female Tory Scottish Secretary. Who knew David Mundell would make way for tartan Truss.

“Well, that would even have Ruth Davidson calling for Scottish independence.”