Rishi Sunak, the British Indian former Chancellor in the race to be elected the British Prime Minister, on Tuesday pledged a major overhaul of the country's civil service to create a "sharper, leaner" bureaucracy if he takes charge at 10 Downing Street on September 5.
Sunak, who is up against Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in the Conservative Party leadership election to succeed Boris Johnson, wants civil servants to spend at least a year of their career outside government roles in industry to widen their experience.
Under a Sunak-led government, they will no longer receive pay rewards based on the longevity of their service but performance instead.
"As Chancellor, I saw parts of the British Civil Service at its best, delivering world class COVID support schemes in record time. But the bloated post-COVID state is in need of a shake up so I will create a sharper, leaner civil service," said Sunak.
"I'll press ahead with cuts to back office Civil Service headcount, recruiting and retaining the brightest and best. I'll strengthen civil servants' experience beyond Whitehall, allow ministers to bring in more external expertise, and bring in performance pay so we have a truly Rolls Royce service delivering for and accountable to the British people," he said.
It came as both Sunak and Truss took their leadership election campaign to Scotland this week, promising further scrutiny of the devolved Scottish government and rejecting Scottish National Party (SNP) demands for a referendum on the region's independence from the United Kingdom.
"The future of the United Kingdom is bright but our union must work together, each nation shoulder to shoulder, to get there. We must defeat the collective challenges threatening the health of our public services. Under my plans, the UK government will play its part, but the same must be reciprocated by Holyrood," said Sunak.
Speaking ahead of hustings in Perth, Scotland, to convince Tory members who will be voting in the postal and online votes to elect a new party leader, Truss said she was "absolutely passionate about Scotland and the United Kingdom" and committed to delivering jobs, growth and opportunity.
Both candidates have won the backing of a number of Scottish Conservative members of Parliament in Westminster and members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) in Holyrood. However, the party's Scottish leader, Douglas Ross, has said he will not be publicly backing either, saying he will "work with whoever emerges victorious".
The Scotland event this week marks the seventh hustings of the Conservative leadership campaign, which will conclude on September 2.
It comes as Truss, seen as a frontrunner in the race with most Tory opinion polls indicating her victory, received another boost with 11 Tory government whips, in charge of party discipline, backing the Cabinet minister.
"The chief whip has allowed whips to declare their leadership allegiances since the contest moved out of Parliament," said a spokesperson for the whips' office.
"This follows the chief whip allowing for whips to inform their local members of their personal preference. The chief whip and the deputy chief whip are remaining neutral," the spokesperson said.
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