A FORMER Tory Scottish Secretary has slated Liz Truss’s plan to borrow money to fund £30billion in tax cuts, saying Margaret Thatcher would be “very unimpressed” by it.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was Scottish Secretary in Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet for four years, said "no Conservative” would ever see such cuts as an “ideological imperative”.

His comments to The Observer were echoed by two other party grandees and Thatcher-era ministers, Norman Lamont and Chris Patten.

Lord Patten said Mrs Thatcher was “honest and did not believe in nonsense”.

Ms Truss has taken an early lead in the Tory leadership race by promising to reverse national insurance and corporation tax rises as well as suspend green levies on energy bills.

The Foreign Secretary, who has repeatedly dressed like Mrs Thatcher and copied some of her most iconic photo opportunities, has insisted the cuts would “decrease inflation”.

However her rival for Number 10, the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has said unfunded tax cuts would see a dangerous “borrowing spree” entrench high inflation, which is already close to double figures.

Pitching himself as a “Thatcherite” offering “common sense Thatcherism”, he said the cuts went against the Conservative party’s tradition of “sound money” and fiscal restraint.

Sir Malcolm said that he was as “certain as I can be that she [Mrs Thatcher] would be very unimpressed by funding tax cuts through increased borrowing, even if it wasn’t at a time of high inflation - but certainly when it is”.

He went on: “She believed that tax cuts should be funded either by economic growth that was already producing more revenue, or by cuts in public spending. 

"That’s what Thatcherism means. I think every single Tory, as well as lots of other people, believe in the desirability of tax cuts. 

“But no Conservative would ever see it as an ideological imperative.”

Lord Lamont, a senior Treasury minister under Mrs Thatcher and Chancellor under her successor John Major, told the paper: “Mrs Thatcher strongly believed that cutting the deficit came before cutting taxes. She also believed that deficits were simply deferred taxation.” 

Lord Patten, an Environment Secretary under Mrs Thatcher and later Governor of Hong Kong, said: “Margaret Thatcher was a fiscal Conservative who did not cut tax until we had reduced inflation. She was honest and did not believe in nonsense.”

The stinging criticism was rejected today by one of Ms Truss’s supporters. 

Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa Coffey told Sky News: “Well, I don’t know the basis on which they’re saying that: many of them were not in the original Margaret Thatcher Cabinet at the start of when she took over in 1979. “I’m not going to exchange comments with people who haven’t been in government for a very long time.

“And indeed, we are in a situation where after the challenges that we face, looking forward into a recession, we need to have a bold economic reform and I believe Liz Truss is the person who can deliver that.”

Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, when she was brought down by a rebellion of her own MPs and cabinet over the poll tax and attitude towards Europe.