Tory leadership race: Sunak and Truss are final two contenders

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Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have reached the final round in the Conservative leadership race, after Penny Mordaunt was eliminated.

Liz Truss secured her spot in the final round after a late surge in MP’s votes, meaning she and Sunak will go to a Conservative party membership ballot. The winner will become the next Tory leader and Prime Minister, replacing Boris Johnson.

The result of the ballot is expected on Monday, September 5.

Sunak, the former chancellor, had placed first in every round of voting so far. Truss had placed third until the final round, but managed to attract votes from Kemi Badenoch’s campaign to overtake Mordaunt.

However, recent YouGov polling suggests Sunak won’t have it easy with Conservative members, with the foreign secretary 19 points ahead.

After the result, Sunak tweeted that he was “humbled” by the support he received from MPs and that he was “ready to get our message out to the country: to restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite our country.”

Liz Truss also tweeted, thanking everyone for their support. She added: “I’m ready to hit the ground running from day one.”

Both candidates have claimed that they can beat Keir Starmer and the Labour Party at the next general election.

Image Credit: Jonathan Hordle / ITV

What have the candidates pledged?

Rishi Sunak:

  • On taxation , Sunak has pledged to cut taxes “once we’ve gripped inflation”, arguing it would be irresponsible to cut taxes immediately. He also announced a plan to increase corporation tax from 19% to 25% in April next year.
  • On the cost of living, as chancellor, he announced a £400 grant for all households’ energy bills, and a £150 council tax rebate. His long-term solution to the issue is improving home insulation and focusing on employment.
  • On Brexit, he voted to leave in the referendum. He has committed to reforming all the UK’s inherited EU laws and regulations before the next general election.
  • On indyref2, Sunak has ruled out “another divisive Scottish independence referendum”. He has vowed to be involved in spending decisions across the UK, criticising a ‘devolve-and-forget’ mentality.
  • On the climate, Sunak has committed to net-zero by 2050. He argues we need to bring everyone along at a reasonable pace, instead of being too forceful. He has vowed a target of UK energy self-sufficiency by 2045. He has been accused of blocking expensive green policies whilst in the Treasury.

Liz Truss:

  • On taxation , Truss will reverse the National Insurance increase, and scrap the 2023 corporation tax increase. She will also suspend the green levy on energy bills. Truss has also pledged to create ‘low-tax and low-regulation zones’ across the country, to boost innovation.
  • On the cost of living, she has claimed her tax policies will help to tackle the crisis. She has called for the independent Bank of England to do more to tackle inflation.
  • On Brexit, she voted Remain. She argues that her record of securing post-Brexit trade deals means she can be trusted.
  • On indyref2, Truss does not support a fresh vote, arguing the SNP described the 2014 referendum as once in a generation. She has described herself as a “child of the union”, and lived in Paisley in her youth.
  • On the climate, Truss is committed to net-zero by 2050. She wants to review the ban on fracking, and says the UK should be building more nuclear power stations. As a previous environment secretary, she cut subsidies to solar farms.
Image Credit: ITV

What happens now?

There is a long wait until the winner is decided. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will attend 12 hustings events across the country, starting on 28 July in Leeds.

From August 1, roughly 160,000 Conservative members (about 0.3% of the electorate) will cast their ballots for their preferred candidate. The voting deadline is on September 2.

There will be more televised debates too, one on the BBC on July 25, at 9pm. Sky News will also host a live debate on August 4, at 8pm.

On September 5, the result will be announced. The next day, Boris Johnson will submit his resignation to the Queen, and the winner will become Prime Minister.

Featured Image Credit: The Guardian

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News Editor 2023/24 at Brig Newspaper. Former Chief Sub-Editor 2022/23.
MSc International Journalism student at the University of Stirling.

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