Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss compete for Tory members’ support in Cheltenham leadership hustings – as it happened – The Guardian

The two candidates are bidding for support from Conservative party members ahead of the final vote for the next PM
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will go head-to-head in Cheltenham in around 15 minutes, you can follow all of the action here.
In the latest hustings in Cheltenham, Liz Truss has warned the UK is in “real danger” of “talking ourselves into a recession” as she defended her plans to cut taxes. But Rishi Sunak criticised Truss’s approach as he said that he is not willing to “pursue policies that risk making inflation far worse and last far longer”.
Truss again criticised the media, two days after apologising for criticising the media during the last hustings. The foreign secretary also pledged to “reform the BBC licence fee and I certainly think it is completely wrong that so many women are in jail for non-payment of it”.
Asked why he believed Tory MP Chris Skidmore had defected from his campaign to Truss’s, Sunak pointed out he “led in every single round” of the parliamentary stage of the contest. The former chancellor said: “We are only half way through this thing. I am going to fight until the last day with everything I have got because I am fighting for what I believe in.”
Rishi Sunak frustrated government attempts to realise benefits of Brexit, Liz Truss allies claim.
Number of patients waiting more than 12 hours in A&E in England was up 33% in July from the previous month. A record 29,317 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in July from a decision to admit to actually being admitted.
Hospital waiting lists in England reach a record high of 6.7 million. The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen above previous records.
Wes Streeting accuses Tory leadership contenders of ignoring “biggest crisis in NHS’s history”. Streeting, the shadow health secretary, accused Truss and Sunak of ignoring what he called “the biggest crisis in the NHS’s history”. He posted this in response to the latest performance figures from NHS England.
Energy bosses start talks with Nadhim Zahawi and Kwasi Kwarteng. The bosses of some of the UK’s biggest energy companies have started a meeting with the chancellor and the business secretary, who are expected to pressure them to invest in green energy rather than payouts for shareholders.
Gordon Brown’s call for nationalisation as a possible solution to energy bills crisis receives mixed reception. The former Labour prime minister has used an article in today’s Guardian to propose that the government should halt the increases in the energy price cap planned for later this year and next year and, if necessary, take energy companies into public ownership to ensure that they keep prices down.
Suella Braverman got £10,000 from climate sceptic for Tory leadership campaign, while Tom Tugendhat raised £120,000, first donation records show.
Boris Johnson tells energy bosses it will be up to his successor to decide any new announcements on energy bills. Downing Street has released its readout of what happened at the meeting with energy company bosses this morning. Boris Johnson joined the meeting, which was originally just meant to be hosted by Zahawi and Kwarteng.
And that brings the hustings in Cheltenham to an end.
Scrapping the independence of the Bank of England would be “a massive mistake”, according to Sunak.
He said: “I’m very nervous about things I hear elsewhere; about people who seem to think that from Liz’s camp and her that we should scrap Bank of England independence.
“I think that would be a massive mistake for our country and international investors would not look very highly on it at all.”
Sunak was told that as someone who went to a private school he had been afforded opportunities that many people would never have access to.
The former chancellor replied: “Yes I have and … I am not going to apologise for what my parents did for me, you must be joking.”
Earlier, Truss criticised the media, two days after apologising for criticising the media during the last hustings.
She said: “Today we’re sponsored by the Telegraph, and I would love the media to spend more time talking about trade deals.”
Following an interjection by the paper’s Camilla Tominey reminding her “you have written for us about trade deals”, the foreign secretary said: “I have written for you on trade deals.
“But the point is that trade deals open the doors for business, but then we need to help businesses actually get their product into market.
“We set up the exports support service to help do that, but I would love to see the press write about that rather than about political rows.”
Asked if he had spoken to Boris Johnson since he quit as chancellor, Sunak said: “I have messaged and called but unsurprisingly he hasn’t returned my calls.”
Asked how he would help families dealing with rising energy bills, Sunak cited his proposed cut to VAT on energy bills .
He said he would also bring forward help for the most vulnerable and pensioners.
Asked what specifically he could do for those groups, Sunak said he would provide “direct financial support to those groups of people”.
He warned that Liz Truss’s plan of favouring tax cuts instead of direct support could “leave millions of incredibly vulnerable people at the risk of real destitution”.
Now it is Sunak’s turn for some questions.
Asked why he believed Tory MP Chris Skidmore had defected from his campaign to Truss’s, Sunak pointed out he “led in every single round” of the parliamentary stage of the contest.
The former chancellor said: “We are only half way through this thing. I am going to fight until the last day with everything I have got because I am fighting for what I believe in.”
Truss, who says she will not have an election before 2024, has dismissed suggestions she might be modelling herself on Margaret Thatcher, insisting: “I am my own person.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of Mrs Thatcher, but we live in different times.”
Answering questions from the public, Truss said “I absolutely don’t support” a windfall tax on oil and gas firms.
Truss was asked what she would consider success to be after her first 90 days in Downing Street if she wins.
She said she would want to show that the UK is “moving in the right direction” and that pressures on household finances are “being reduced”.
The foreign secretary said she would also want to see evidence of growing investment in the UK and to “get a grip” of NHS waiting lists.
Will she scrap the BBC licence fee, Truss replied: “I will reform the BBC licence fee and I certainly think it is completely wrong that so many women are in jail for non-payment of it.”
Truss also vowed to keep the net zero pledge.
Truss was asked a series of yes/no questions.
On cutting foreign aid, she said: “I will keep it as it is.”
Leave the ECHR: “If we need to, but I’d rather legislate through the British Bill of Rights.”
Will she sack 91,000 civil servants: “I will certainly reduce the size of the civil service over time.”
Truss was asked if she is the sort of politician who changes her position to suit her ambitions having been a Lib Dem and also supported Remain before becoming a Brexiteer.
Truss replies she was “pretty equivocal at the time” on Brexit in the run up to the 2016 referendum and she “wasn’t sure”.
She said she was “concerned about potential disruption” of leaving the EU.
Truss insists she is “low tax, pro growth, pro opportunity” and she wants to ensure the UK is open for business.
Asked if she is therefore “low tax and high borrowing” to pay for it, she said: “My tax cuts… will cost £30 billion. That is affordable within our current budget… I am afraid to say the plans of raising taxes are likely to lead to a recession…”
Truss said there is a “real danger of us talking ourselves into a recession”.
Asked if he she is for or against “handouts” to help with energy bills, she said “my first preference is always to reduce taxes” but stressed she cannot write or announce the contents of a budget now.
We now move onto the questions.
Truss is asked how she would lower people’s energy bills.
She said her starting point would be helping people through tax cuts and that we “shouldn’t be taking money off people in taxes and then giving it back as benefits”.
On tackling inflation, Sunak said: “We have seen this story before. Inflation is the enemy that makes everyone poorer.”
On Liz Truss’s tax cutting pledges and plan for the economy, the former chancellor said: “What I will not do is pursue policies that risk making inflation far worse and last far longer…”
Sunak said his three main goals as Tory leader would be to “restore trust”, “rebuild the economy” and “reunite our country”.

source

Leave a Comment