AS THE country holds its breath to see who will be the new Prime Minister come September 5, the fate lies in the hands of a few hundred thousand Conservative party members.
Two contenders are left in the race to hold the highest government position in England — Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak — and both recently visited the Isle of Wight to speak to members of the Island's Conservative party.
But how will those elected to serve us on the Isle of Wight Council vote to represent them as leader of the Tory party and Prime Minster?
All 18 councillors were asked. Of those that responded some are still undecided, others with firm favourites. And one has decided not to vote at all ...
Cllr Joe Robertson — leader of the Isle of Wight Council's Conservative group — Rishi Sunak. Cllr Robertson said Mr Sunak had shown the resolve and strength of character to take tough decisions for the long-term good, which might be unpopular in the short term.
Citing the furlough scheme and the ability to keep the economy running through Covid, Cllr Robertson said Mr Sunak has the experience, gravitas and intelligence to step up to the job in the toughest of times.
Cllr Robertson said Mr Sunak has also committed to seeing through the fairer funding arrangement for the Island after recognising the challenges of our Island status.
Cllr Paul Brading — deputy leader — Liz Truss. Cllr Brading said at the hustings both candidates acknowledge the difficult times we are in but was pleased to hear Ms Truss' leadership style was around creating an effective team, fully engaged and working together for the good of the country.
He said: "These are views I have always worked to. She also really understands the needs, and challenges of all people, right across the country.
"Finally, she has a good grasp of the unique challenges of the Isle of Wight and pledged to help us tackle these issues."
Cllr Michael Beston — Rishi Sunak.
— 🇬🇧 Michael Beston 🇬🇧 (@CllrMikeBeston) August 7, 2022
Cllr Vanessa Churchman — Rishi Sunak. Cllr Churchman said she thought both candidates did well at their hustings but has decided to vote for Mr Sunak. She said if she was having difficulties with her finances, she would employ an expert, not someone who could/would promise to but not necessarily be able to deliver.
Cllr Suzie Ellis — Rishi Sunak. Cllr Ellis said she voted for Mr Sunak as she has concerns about many of Ms Truss' policies, particularly around the environment and green energy. She said we cannot afford to take backwards steps in these areas.
Cllr Steve Hastings — Rishi Sunak. Cllr Hastings said his first choice would have been Penny Mordaunt but after much deliberation, he and his wife have voted for Mr Sunak.
Cllr Steven Hendry — Rishi Sunak.
Cllr Martin Oliver — is undecided but leaning towards Liz Truss. Cllr Oliver said he thinks Ms Truss is more electable to the wider public. Residents have contacted him to have their say, he said, and he feels he should listen to them.
Cllr Tig Outlaw — will NOT vote. He said: "At a time when the country is so desperate for leadership and vision, I fear neither of the options our parliamentary party have left us with has what it takes to meet the challenges ahead. I have therefore reluctantly decided to abstain."
Cllr Gary Peace — is undecided.
Cllr Peter Spink — is undecided.
Cllr Ian Ward — Liz Truss. Cllr Ward said he felt, while both have clear strategies, Ms Truss was more in-tune with the electorate than Mr Sunak.
He said: "I feel Liz is intending to deal with today's problems, such as price rises, green taxes, power surcharges, pause Net Zero expenditure, etc. to reduce the financial burden upon those struggling now. Liz will tackle inflation after the immediate problems are addressed"
Cllr Ward said Mr Sunak was very convincing, to the point he thought of switching support, but when he spoke to him Mr Sunak said he would cut taxes later, leading Cllr Ward to the conclusion immediate concerns would not be addressed under his leadership.