RISHI Sunak has publicly discussed losing the Tory leadership race, a tell-tale sign that he is bracing himself for defeat.

In an interview with the BBC’s Nick Robinson, the former Chancellor said he had been true to his values, even if Tory members hadn’t wanted to hear his message. 

He said he would "rather lose" than make false promises.

With analysts predicting annual household energy bills above £4,000 by April, he also said Government had a “moral responsibility” to help families with the cost of living crisis.

Liz Truss, his rival in the contest to replace Boris Johnson in No10 has said her tax cuts would be her priority, not “handouts”.

Ms Truss has always been the favourite among the Tory members who will anoint he next PM by September 5, while Mr Sunak has been more popular with all voters.

But a new Ipsos poll today said Mr Sunak was also starting to lose his edge with the public, with the number of people saying he would make a good Prime Minister falling from 38 to 32 per cent, while Ms Truss was stable on 30%.

Among Tory voters, Mr Sunak’s fall was even steeper, from more than half saying he would be good PM to 42% in just 10 days, while Ms Truss rose from 46% to 53% .

In his BBC interview, Mr Sunak appeared to acknowledge the inevitable conclusion.

He said: “I knew what I was doing when I got into this and I was going to tell people what I think they needed to hear, not necessarily what they wanted to hear.

“I would rather lose, having fought for the things I passionately believe are right for our country and being true to my values, than win on a false promise.”

Mr Sunak also kept up his attacks on Ms Truss, saying her plans for £30billion of unfunded tax cuts were not “the moral thing to do”.

Asked about giving people further cost-of-living support, he said: “That’s what my plan is about and actually, alternative proposals that don’t focus on that I don’t think are right and I don’t think are, actually, quite frankly the moral thing to do.”

He said billions more cost-of-living support was needed as the future situation was on average “£400 worse” than when he made earlier interventions as chancellor.

“That gives you a sense of the scale of what we are talking about extra and then we have to think about how to we split that up, what do we do for the most vulnerable people on the lowest incomes, what do we do for pensioners, and what do we do for hardworking families.”

He later suggested total support for families could be raised to £800 with a cut to VAT on energy bills.

Earlier, Ms Truss denied that she had ruled out more direct help for families struggling with energy bills.

The Foreign Secretary said that if she was PM she would tell her chancellor to look at the issue “in the round” and find a solution.

But she stressed that it was wrong to “whack up” taxes simply to pay out more in benefits, while her campaign accused Mr Sunak of “socialist tax and spend” policies.

Taking questions on GB News from an audience in the red wall seat of Leigh, Greater Manchester, she said: “I will do everything I can to support working families who work hard and do the right thing.

“If I am elected as your prime minister I will make sure the chancellor has an emergency budget and looks at this issue in the round and sorts this issue out.”

In a dig at Mr Sunak, whose resignation helped trigger Mr Johnson's downfall, she said she would want "loyalty" in her cabinet.