Conservative leadership race: Final five contenders clash in second TV debate

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·25-min read
Conservative leadership race: Final five contenders clash in second TV debate
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The final five contenders in the Tory leadership race clashed over the cost of living crisis in a tense debate on Sunday night.

Liz Truss hit out at Rishi Sunak’s plans to tackle the cost-of-living crisis during ITV’s fiery leadership stand off.

She said: “Rishi, you have raised taxes to the highest level in 70 years. That is not going to drive economic growth. You raised national insurance even though people like me opposed it in Cabinet at the time, because we could have afforded to fund the NHS through general taxation.

“The fact is that raising taxes at this moment will choke off economic growth, it will prevent us getting the revenue we need to pay off the debt.”

Mr Sunak responded that the pandemic damaged the economy and the money has to be paid back.

He accused her of peddling “something-for-nothing” economics after she said he was choking off growth by raising taxes to their highest level in 70 years.

07:34 , Lily Waddell

Key dates in the Conservative leadership contest

– Sunday July 17: Today. Second debate. ITV will host a televised debate at 7pm.

– Monday July 18: Third round of voting. The ballot on Monday and subsequent rounds on the following days will eliminate the contender with the fewest votes until only two remain – who will then go forward into a postal ballot of party members.

– Tuesday July 19: Third debate at 8pm. Sky News’ Kay Burley is scheduled to host the debate.

– Friday July 22 onwards: Hustings are to take place around the country over the summer to help party members determine their choice for the new Conservative leader.

– Monday September 5: New Conservative leader announced. The new prime minister will be announced on September 5 when MPs return to Westminster from their summer break.

Kemi Badenoch to do ‘whatever it takes’ to deal with illegal Channel crossings

07:46 , Anthony France

Kemi Badenoch has promised to do “whatever it takes to deal with the small boats issue” as she pitched controlling immigration at the centre of her campaign for the Tory leadership.

It came with the former equalities minister in fourth place but many MPs believing she is well-placed to pick up votes in the third round on Monday, having impressed many activists with her performances so far in the contest.

The MP for Saffron Walden outlined a focus on property ownership, border control and family as the “first, and best, source of welfare” as herself and the four other contenders still in the contest prepare for the second televised debate to be screened on ITV on Sunday evening.

“Property ownership should be spread as widely as possible. Nations need borders. The family is the first, and best, source of welfare,” she wrote in The Sunday Times.

“People – rightly – recognise that building more homes while doing nothing to bring immigration down is like running up the down escalator,” she added.

Tom Tugendhat: “It’s only human for young people to want a home of their own"

08:00 , Anthony France

Tom Tugendhat says his “dream” of his children being able to afford their own home is “turning into a nightmare” as he sets out proposals on housing in the Tory leadership campaign.

The chairman of the foreign affairs committee warns: “We simply have to build more homes.” ,

He added: “One day I would like my children to be able to afford to buy their own home. It is only human to want to provide for the next generation.

“Unfortunately this dream for so many of us is turning into a nightmare. The average age of a first-time buyer has now risen to above 30 in every region of the country.

“More young people are living with their parents for longer, unable to afford to pay rising rental costs let alone save up for a deposit. This makes it harder for businesses to recruit staff, which impacts their career and pay prospects.”

Rishi Sunak wears £490 Prada shoes on visit to Teesside building site

08:29 , Anthony France

Tory supporters are making mischief pointing out that when Rishi Sunak visited a building site in Teesside yesterday to argue that inflation must be restrained before any tax cuts can take place, he was wearing £490 brown Prada suede loafers - more than a week’s average wage in the area.

Last week, the former chancellor was accused of being “out of touch” when a video surfaced in which he suggested that he had “no working-class friends”.

Rishi Sunak wears £490 brown Prada suede loafers on visit to Teesside building site (REUTERS)
Rishi Sunak wears £490 brown Prada suede loafers on visit to Teesside building site (REUTERS)

Sunak was yesterday at pains to emphasise his more humble background as the son of a pharmacist. “I learned the value of hard work in my mum’s shop,” he said.

“I also did my mum’s accounts, so you really understand the challenges of trying to make all the numbers add up and what it takes to run a small business.”

Tom Tugendhat will “decapitate" drug gangs and move counter-terrorism policing away from Scotland Yard

08:57 , Anthony France

Tom Tugendhat announced plans to clamp down on county lines drug gangs.

Controversially, he would also empower the National Crime Agency with counter-terrorism responsibilities - away from the Metropolitan Police.

Drug gang leaders will be targeted with tougher sentencing and proactive policing in a bid to reduce crime rates across the country, he told The Sun.

Tugendhat would also ensure the 20,000 new police officers will be put on the frontline rather than in back offices.

He said: “I have seen first-hand how gangs are wreaking havoc across Britain.

“Under my leadership, the police will take a proactive approach towards organised crime.

“We will target gang leaders with all the means at our disposal and push for tougher sentences.

“By decapacitating the leadership of these gangs, I will ensure that criminals up and down the country know that they will always be held to account for their activities.”

09:46 , Lily Waddell

Penny Mordaunt shuts down claims she supported gender self-ID

Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt has fired back at claims she supported gender self-identification when she was a government equalities minister.

Under attack in the first TV debate, former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss took aim at Ms Mordaunt claiming she had backed self-ID for those who wanted to transition and that they together had reversed the policy.

Ms Mordaunt hit back saying she was not in favour of self-ID, although she had ordered a review of the Gender Recognition Act.

The Sunday Times reported it had seen government papers which appeared to suggest she was in favour of removing at least one element of the medical process required for transgender people to legally transition.

It said another paper from February 2020 confirmed the Government’s support for self-ID ended after she was replaced as the minister in charge.

In response, her spokesperson said in a statement shared on Twitter: “The fact that so much of this contest has been distracted by side issues instead of the cost-of-living crisis impacting millions of people, is a major disappointment.

“Arguing about policy is one thing, but questioning Penny’s values and integrity must be challenged.

“To be clear, on the issue of self ID, leaked documents prove that all ministers in the department wanted to maintain medical involvement, including Penny. Other ministers can back this up.”

Baroness Williams, who was junior equalities minister at the time, supported Ms Mordaunt.

The final five contenders in the Tory race will take part in the second televised debate at 7pm on ITV on Sunday.

10:18 , Lily Waddell

Contenders must explain how they’ll pay for tax cuts, says Raab

Conservative candidates in the running for the leadership race calling for tax cuts must explain how they will be paid for, Dominic Raab has said.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who is backing Rishi Sunak, gave an interview to Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme ahead of the TV debate tonight.

He told her: “You can’t borrow your way out of an inflation crisis.

“If people are suggesting we should make cuts to the NHS at a time not just of Covid, but all the other non-Covid NHS challenges, they have got to spell out where they are coming from.

“We want to all leave people with more money in their pocket. But if you cut taxes and inflation robs people of that money because it is worthless or sees interest rates go up so their mortgage is more expensive, then frankly it is a false economy.”

Tom Tugendhat says Boris Johnson’s partygate story ‘more fictional than reality'

10:20 , Anthony France

Tory leadership contender Tom Tugendhat has said the party needs a “clean start” after three years of Boris Johnson’s premiership.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Mr Tugendhat said it was clear that the Prime Minister’s account of the “partygate” scandal was “rather more fictional than reality”.

“What we need to see is a clean start. That is the most essential issue. In two years’ time we are going to be facing Keir Starmer in a general election,” he said.

“We need to make sure that all the attack lines that have been used against us in the last three years don’t come back in a general election.

“We need to make sure absolutely that what we are able to deliver is championing Conservative policies and deliver a Conservative vision for the future.”

Sir Iain Duncan Smith takes aim at Rishi Sunak

10:27 , Anthony France

Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a backer of Liz Truss, took aim at Tory former chancellor Rishi Sunak’s approach to the economy.

Sir Iain said Ms Truss’s record in government is “strong”, adding on taxation: “There is a genuine debate to be had here in the party about this because I think the Government and the Treasury, through a peculiar orthodoxy, is bound on the wrong course which could seriously damage us over the next two years.”

He also told Sophy Ridge On Sunday on Sky News: “We’ve got an inflationary spiral going on, now we’ve got the war in Ukraine, that’s made it even worse with regards to energy, but here in the UK we do have to bear some of the blame for the fact that we have inflation rising on top of all of that.

“And that’s down to the Bank of England and the Treasury’s failure over, I think, monetary policy. First of all over a year ago the Bank actually kept on printing huge sums of money, which has inflated the economy as well as keeping interest rates low.

“It was the Treasury that signed off on that money printing, the Chancellor no less, so before they say ‘oh it’s independent’, the Treasury has the right to say no to the money printing bit and they didn’t, that has fuelled inflation.”

On the current economic approach, Sir Iain added: “If you have the tax rates at the rate they are with more to come – corporation tax – you are going to bring our economy into recession, that’s what’s forecast now. If we go into recession whilst we have high inflation, that’s stagflation.”

Sir Iain Duncan Smith: ‘I don’t know what Penny Mordaunt’s achievements are'

10:29 , Anthony France

Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the Tory leadership candidates need to be judged on their achievements in government.

He told Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “The one person I don’t know what her achievements are is Penny (Mordaunt). I don’t have any problem with her, I have no issues at all.

“But for me the key thing is we’re not electing a leader of the Conservative Party that has two years to build their reputation, we are electing someone who will be prime minister on day one.

“So you need to know when they had power and authority in government, what did they do with it, what did they get, what did they achieve, what were their main beliefs, what did they drive through, what tough decisions did they have to take, and actually they have to sometimes go against their civil servants to get these things done.”

Mordaunt admits her plans to cut taxes will lead to increased borrowing

11:24 , Anthony France

Tory leadership contender Penny Mordaunt has acknowledged that her plans to cut taxes will lead to increased government borrowing.

Ms Mordaunt said her proposals to halve VAT on petrol and raise tax thresholds represented a “modest” set of changes to help people struggling with the rising cost of living.

“We need to demonstrate that there is some immediate targeted support going to people. We would have to adjust our tax forecasts but this is absolutely necessary, I think,” she told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme.

“There is plenty of headroom to do this. This is, compared to other candidates, a very modest set of targeted support I have announced to help people.”

She acknowledged that would mean borrowing to fund day-to-day spending, saying: “We will have to do that for some time. The important thing is that debt (to GDP) ratio will fall over time.”

Penny Mordaunt hits back at ‘toxic smears’ behind trans self-ID row

11:27 , Anthony France

Tory leadership contender Penny Mordaunt has dismissed fresh claims about her views on transgender issues as “smears” and “toxic politics”.

‘More borrowing” under Liz Truss’s tax cut plans, says Suella Braverman

11:33 , Anthony France

Attorney General Suella Braverman said there “will be a bit more borrowing” under the tax cut plans outlined by Liz Truss.

Ms Braverman has offered her support to the Foreign Secretary’s campaign after she was knocked out of the Tory leadership contest.

Told Ms Truss promised approximately £30 billion of tax cuts in the first leadership debate, Ms Braverman told Times Radio: “Liz has worked in the Treasury in a senior position and when she says she wants to cut taxes, I entirely agree with her.”

Asked if that will mean more borrowing, the Conservative MP replied: “Not necessarily entirely based on more borrowing, I think there will be a bit more borrowing but we will be able to grow our way out of the issue to afford tax cuts.

“We know that when we cut taxes there is more investment by the private sector, there are more jobs, there is more return to the Exchequer.”

Ms Braverman also said Ms Truss is taking a “common sense approach to identity politics”, adding: “She knows what a woman is, which is becoming worryingly rare these days in political debate.”

Penny Mordaunt has ‘questions to answer’ on trans self-ID, says Kemi Badenoch team

12:37 , Anthony France

Kemi Badenoch’s campaign manager Tory MP Lee Rowley told Sky News: “Penny has a set of questions to answer.”

Mr Rowley added: “Either Penny did agree with self-ID and is now saying she didn’t – the question ‘why?’ Or Penny didn’t agree with self-ID but it looks as though the Government, civil service and the department decided to do it anyway – the question ‘how did she let that happen?’”

Labour ‘not worried’ by any Conservative leadership candidate

12:48 , Anthony France

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson, asked which Tory leadership candidate she was most worried about fighting at a general election, said: “I’m not worried about any of them. I don’t think we’ve got anything to fear from any of the candidates.”

She added on Sophy Ridge On Sunday on Sky News: “The reason for that is that all of them have propped up Boris Johnson and the Conservative Government for 12 years now.”

Phillipson criticised Kemi Badenoch, suggesting that her comments on cutting down on the number of support staff in schools is concerning.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith criticises Rishi Sunak’s economic policy

17:53 , Sami Quadri

A former leader of the Conservative Party has accused ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak of fuelling inflation.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the Treasury has demonstrated a “failure” of monetary policy.

Sir Iain, who backs Liz Truss, continued: “There is a genuine debate to be had here in the party about this because I think the government and the Treasury, through a peculiar orthodoxy, is bound on the wrong course which could seriously damage us over the next two years.”

He added: “We’ve got an inflationary spiral going on, now we’ve got the war in Ukraine that’s made it even worse with regards to energy, but here in the UK we do have to bear some of the blame for the fact that we have inflation rising on top of all of that.

“And that’s down to the Bank of England and the Treasury’s failure over, I think, monetary policy.

“First of all, over a year ago the Bank actually kept on printing huge sums of money, which has inflated the economy as well as keeping interest rates low.

“It was the Treasury that signed off on that money printing, the chancellor no less, so before they say ‘oh it’s independent’, the Treasury has the right to say no to the money printing bit and they didn’t - that has fuelled inflation.”

Rees-Mogg calls Sunak’s EU law pledge ‘surprising’

17:55 , Sami Quadri

Rishi Sunak posts new campaign video ahead of second debate

18:41 , Sami Quadri

Rishi Sunak has posted a new campaign video on social media ahead of the second televised leadership debate highlighting his long-standing support for Brexit.

The video, shot in the style of a spoof black and white news reel, makes the point that he campaigned for Leave in the 2016 referendum, against the wishes of the Tory leadership at the time, while including a shot of Liz Truss campaigning for Remain.

It ends with the voiceover describing Mr Sunak as “a real Brexiteer from day one”.

Debate begins!

19:01 , Sami Quadri

Liz Truss says she will ‘unleash a bold plan’ to tackle cost-of-living crisis

19:06 , Sami Quadri

Liz Truss says she understands families are being hit hard by surging food and energy prices.

She said she will “unleash a bold plan” to get the economy growing by reversing the national insurance rise and not raising corporation tax.

19:09 , Sami Quadri

The Tory leadership candidates set out why they believed they should become prime minister as the ITV debate began.

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak told viewers: “I’m standing to be your next prime minister because Britain’s potential is limitless and I’m the best person to lead us into the future.”

Liz Truss said: “I want to unleash Britain’s potential. I’ve shown I can deliver as Foreign Secretary, I’m now ready to lead as your prime minister.”

Former minister Kemi Badenoch said: “I’m the candidate who will tell you the truth. I’m running because things need to change and I will make our country better.”

Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat said: “We know that things have been difficult and we need a clean start, we are facing problems abroad and at home. It’s time for a change, I’m ready to serve, I’m ready to lead.”

Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “My life has been about service”.

Liz Truss clashes with Rishi Sunak over tax

19:18 , Sami Quadri

Liz Truss has hit out at Rishi Sunak’s plans to tackle the cost-of-living crisis during ITV’s leadership debate.

She said: “Rishi, you have raised taxes to the highest level in 70 years. That is not going to drive economic growth. You raised national insurance even though people like me opposed it in Cabinet at the time, because we could have afforded to fund the NHS through general taxation.

“The fact is that raising taxes at this moment will choke off economic growth, it will prevent us getting the revenue we need to pay off the debt.”

Mr Sunak responded that the pandemic damaged the economy and the money has to be paid back.

“I’d love to stand here and say ‘look, I’ll cut this tax, that tax and another tax and it will all be okay’. But you know what? It won’t,” he said.

“There’s a cost to these things and the cost of higher inflation, higher mortgage rates, eroded savings. And you know what? This something for nothing economics isn’t Conservative. It’s socialism.”

Candidates asked if they would have Boris Johnson in their cabinet

19:21 , Sami Quadri

None of the Tory leadership candidates said they would give Boris Johnson a job in their cabinets if they became prime minister.

The five contenders to replace Mr Johnson – Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt, Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat – were asked whether they would let him sit at their cabinet table during the ITV leadership debate.

None of them raised their hands when asked if they would give him a cabinet role.

Liz Truss says Rishi Sunak’s fiscal policy has hurt the economy

19:26 , Sami Quadri

Liz Truss said Britain is predicted to experience a recession due to Mr Sunak’s increase in taxes.

“It is cutting back on growth,” she said. “It is preventing companies from investing and it’s taking money out of people’s pockets. That is no way to get the economy going during a recession.”

Penny Mordaunt said she disagreed with Mr Sunak, adding: “I think the tax cuts I’ve outlined are not inflationary.

“I think people listening at home will be looking at us, debating these issues. And it seems that we’re removed from the real problems that they are facing, they need some immediate action now, I don’t understand why Rishi doesn’t accept that.

“But I also think there’s things we can do that don’t cost any money, making things work better for people. That’s why I’ve introduced the childcare policy that I have.

“Making tax simpler so that it reduces the costs that businesses are having to pay just to be tax compliant. There’s many things we can do.”

Kemi Badenoch says candidates must be ‘honest’ with public about economy

19:30 , Sami Quadri

Kemi Badenoch said the candidates needed to be “honest” with the public about the nation’s economic future.

She added: “I think what we’re seeing in the discussion that’s taking place is that there are no easy options. There are no solutions, only trade-offs. When I was working in the Treasury, it was always a choice between difficult option A, terrible option B or mad option C.

“We need to be honest with the public about how difficult things are. The Government can’t solve everything and we need to do better at it in terms of the way that we fix things.”

Responding to Ms Mordaunt’s point, Mr Sunak said he “does take the situation seriously”.

He added: “I heard Penny on the TV this morning saying you were going to scrap one of my rules that the Government shouldn’t borrow for day-to-day spending.

“Now look, it’s one thing to borrow for long-term investment, but it’s a whole other thing to put the day-to-day bills on the country’s credit card and we know how that ends. It’s not just wrong, it’s dangerous. And you know what, even Jeremy Corbyn didn’t suggest that we should go that far.”

Truss says she ‘completely’ supports Bank of England’s independence

19:35 , Sami Quadri

Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss has said she “completely” supports the Bank of England’s independence.

She told the ITV debate for Britain’s next prime minister: “I completely support the Bank of England’s independence.

“But I think we need to look at the best practice around the world, the countries who’ve been most successful at controlling inflation, and we need to look at the mandate they have, for example, the Bank of Japan.

“So the last time the mandate was set was in 1997, in completely different times.

“We are in unprecedented economic times, and the ‘business as usual’ economic strategy that we have the moment simply isn’t working for the people of Britain.”

Liz Truss admits she is not the ‘slickest’ candidate

19:39 , Sami Quadri

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss admitted she was not the “slickest” of the candidates to be Tory leader and prime minister.

She told the ITV debate: “I’m somebody who says what I think, I’m honest, I was brought up in Yorkshire – I say what I mean and I mean what I say.

“I’m somebody that, when I promise to deliver something, I do deliver it.”

In a swipe at former chancellor Rishi Sunak, she said that was “one of the reasons I was so concerned about us breaking our manifesto on national insurance, because we committed to the British public that we would do it” – the Tories had promised in 2019 not to increase the tax.

She added: “I might not be the slickest presenter on this stage, but I think my colleagues understand in Parliament when I work with them that when I say I’ll do something, I do it.”

19:41 , Sami Quadri

Kemi Badenoch said it was “time for change”, and claimed her resignation from Boris Johnson’s government took courage.

She told the ITV debate: “It was very difficult for me to resign my job last week, it took a lot of courage because I knew what would happen afterwards.”

She said “being brave, and more importantly using that bravery to protect other people” was one of her key attributes.

She added that she wanted to bring “unity” back to the Tory party because “I’m tired of us being Brexiteers and Remainers”.

Sunak says he will be ‘honest with public about what lies ahead'

19:42 , Sami Quadri

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak said he would bring honesty to the role of prime minister.

He told the ITV debate: “I want to be honest with the country about the economic challenge that we face, and what’s going to be required to deal with that.

“And that’s not politically convenient for me, to not just say the easy things, but I think it demonstrates to people that I will be honest with them about what lies ahead and I’ll be responsible in dealing with it, even if it’s not politically easy.”

19:43 , Sami Quadri

Penny Mordaunt said a “good team” would make her a better prime minister than Boris Johnson.

She told the ITV debate: “My whole campaign has been built around building a team.

“My now legendary campaign video did not feature me at all, it was all about my colleagues and it was all about the country.

“I think our leadership model that we’ve had in politics is completely broken. It doesn’t deliver for people and we need a new approach.

“I recognise that and I would look to build a team of all the talents in our party.”

19:52 , Sami Quadri

Tom Tugendhat said those who served in Boris Johnson’s government “lent credibility to the chaos” which has made it difficult for the Conservatives to win the next general election.

Outlining why he should run the country rather than any of his fellow candidates who served in Mr Johnson’s government, he said: “Whatever your responsibility was in that government, whatever your place in that government was, Keir Starmer in two years’ time is going to hold that record against us.

“We need to make sure we’re winning Conservative seats across the country, and even really good people lend credibility to the chaos candidate.”

19:52 , Sami Quadri

Kemi Badenoch said she was “not ashamed of anything we did” while she was a minister in Mr Johnson’s Government.

“We have a lot to be proud of. We got Brexit done, and what the Prime Minister did on Ukraine and on vaccines was fantastic,” she said.

“Serving in Government is not easy. It requires taking difficult decisions. Tom [Tugendhat] has never done that. It’s very easy for him to criticise what we’ve been doing, but we have been out there on the frontline making the case.”

Tom Tugendhat disagreed, stating he had been on the frontline in Afghanistan, Iraq and “in the argument against Putin and China.”

She responded: “You haven’t taken any decisions, talking is easy.”

Pictured: Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch taking part in debate

20:08 , Sami Quadri

 (PA)
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