26th July, 2022
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, would clash on TV for a second time in 24 hours.
They sought to win the leadership of the Conservative Party, thus, taking the job of prime minister.
The two hopefuls to head the Tory party clashed already on Monday, primarily about their economic plans.
The two would now face each other again in a TalkTV/Sun event at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT), with both sides hoping to learn tactical lessons from the BBC clash the night before.
That showdown saw the two rivals trash each other’s economic plans, while personal attacks continued, with Sunak accused by allies of Truss of “mansplaining’’ during the debate.
Sunak claimed there is “nothing conservative’’ about Truss’ approach to cutting taxes and pumping up borrowing, arguing it would give the party absolutely no chance of winning the next election.
Truss, in turn, suggested her rival would lead the country into a recession and criticised him for increasing taxes to the “highest rate in 70 years.’’
On China, Truss accused her rival of pushing for closer trade relationships while Sunak said Liz has been on a journey to get to a point where she opposes closer ties.
Sunak also sought to stress his decision to quit acting Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government as a sign he acts according to his principles, while Truss stressed her loyalty to her current boss.
Johnson opted to give up the job early this month after dozens of officials quit his government to protest a string of scandals.
But both candidates ruled out a job for Johnson in their Cabinet, with Truss saying she believed he needed a well-earned break before eventually adding.
“I am sure he will have a role; I am sure he will be vocal but he will not be part of the government.’’
Sunak was more direct in his reply by saying: “The simple answer for me is no.’’
A snap poll by Opinium, based on a sample of 1,032 voters, found that 39 per cent believed Sunak had performed best compared to 38 per cent for Truss.
But crucially Tory voters split 47 per cent to 38 per cent in favour of the foreign secretary.
With postal ballots set to arrive on Tory members’ doorsteps by Aug. 5, Sunak needed good performances in the debates and the early hustings.
Opinion polls and member surveys had suggested that he trailed Truss in the battle to win the votes of card-carrying Conservatives, with the foreign secretary the bookmakers’ favourite to be elected as Tory leader on Sept. 5.
Former cabinet minister, David Davis, who supported Sunak, said Truss’ policies would risk fuelling inflation.
This is leading to the Bank of England being forced to increase interest rates as high as 7 per cent hitting people with mortgages and other debts.
“The Tory Party, generally speaking, is a bit older than average. It’s a little bit more middle class, but not so much these days, but a little bit more middle class,’’ he told Sky News.
“It will care about things like their offspring having to face these sorts of interest rates in the future so that matters.’’
He rejected suggestions from allies of Truss, including Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, that Sunak had been mansplaining and talking over his rival.
“Sometimes it’s important to intervene in debates,’’ Davis said.
He added: “We need the person who (a knows what he stands for, b) is courageous enough to take the difficult decisions and c) determined enough to do it.
“And that’s Rishi Sunak.’’
Cabinet minister Simon Clarke, a Truss ally, said: “I think there were some pretty aggressive moments at the outset from Rishi towards Liz in terms of interrupting her as she tried to set out her case but, by and large.
“I think the debate was held in a reasonable spirit reflecting, obviously, the importance of the issues.’’
Clarke, who was Sunak’s ministerial deputy in the Treasury before the former chancellor resigned, defended Truss’ economic plans.
He told Sky that putting the COVID-related debt in a separate category would give the ability to pay it back over a longer period, allowing more flexibility with day-to-day spending.
But he added: “There will be decisions to be taken on wider levels of government spending across the board to make sure this is a costed plan.
“As conservatives, we have to believe I do, very firmly, believe that growing the economy through pro-growth measures including tax cuts is the right thing to do.’’