Rishi sunak, chancellor, has used a speech to the conservative annual conference to speak of the partys sacred responsibility to strong public finances, warning of hard choices ahead as he seeks to balance the books.

Mr sunak put his party and the uk on warning for tax rises ahead once the coronavirus crisis has passed, a tough message for tory activists whose enthusiasm for fiscal discipline is matched or exceeded by a passion for tax cuts.

We have a sacred responsibility to future generations to leave the public finances strong, he said in a short video speech to the virtual conference.

He said that through careful management of our economy, this conservative government will always balance the books. with prime minister boris johnson ruling out a return to austerity, the burden is likely to fall mainly on higher taxes.

Mr sunak said: if we argue there is no limit on what we can spend, that we can simply borrow our way out of any hole, what is the point in us? i have never pretended there is some easy, cost-free answer. hard choices are everywhere.

Meanwhile mr sunak tried to hose down increasing speculation that he is eyeing mr johnsons job, amid sky-high approval ratings among tory activists and the prime ministers waning popularity.

Some tory mps are talking about the chancellor as a ready made alternative to mr johnson, if the prime minister fails to get a grip on his government and he comes to be seen as an electoral liability.

Mr sunak lavished praise on his downing street neighbour, who led his party to an 80-seat commons majorityless than a year ago, saying that he had seen up close the burden the prime minister carries.

He added: we all know he has an ability to connectwith people in a way few politicians manage it is a special and rare quality.

But what the commentators dont see, the thing i see, is the concern and care he feels, everyday, for the wellbeing of the people of our country.

Yes it has been difficult, challenges are part of the job, but on the big calls, in the big moments, boris johnson has got it right and we need that leadership.