November 30, 2022

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Sunak and Truss UK feud over tax in leadership debate

Sunak and Truss UK feud over tax in leadership debate

  • There is no clear contender in the race to succeed Boris Johnson
  • Former Finance Minister Sunak won the first two votes for MP
  • Sunak and FM Truss clash over taxes
  • Tugendhat is considered from the outside as the best performance by the audience

LONDON (Reuters) – British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss clashed with former finance minister Rishi Sunak on Friday as the five remaining contenders for Britain’s next prime minister battled head-to-head in the first of three televised debates. .

The initial field of 11 contenders was reduced two days after the ruling Conservative Party MPs voted. But no one has yet emerged as a clear successor to Boris Johnson, who announced his resignation after a series of scandals.

While Sunak has outperformed those two votes, he faces stiff competition from Truss, who has the backing of a number of dignitaries, and junior Commerce Secretary Penny Mordaunt, whom polls show is the most popular among party members who will decide the winner.

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Former equality minister Kimi Badenouch and parliament’s foreign affairs committee chair Tom Tugendhat also remained in the running but are trailing others in support of conservative lawmakers.

A quick poll by market research firm Opinium of the British public – who do not have a vote in the Conservative Party’s decision on the next prime minister – showed that 36% of viewers view Tugendat as the best performer.

Sunak came in second with 24%, followed by Mordaunt and Badenoch with 12% and Gears at the rear with 7%.

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Whoever gets the job will deal with skyrocketing inflation and low economic growth, as well as the public’s lack of confidence in politics after Johnson’s scandal-ridden tenure.

Sunak and Truss squabbled over economic policy in the debate hosted by Channel 4.

Truss has proposed scrapping the payroll and corporate tax increases proposed by Sunak, at a cost of more than 30 billion pounds ($36 billion) a year, to be funded by slower reductions of government debt accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to be honest, borrowing your way out of inflation is not a plan, it’s a fairy tale,” Sunak told Truss.

Truss said the tax increases would undermine business investment at a time when the economy was faltering.

“You can’t tax your way to grace,” she said.

Opinion polls also indicate that the Conservatives are far behind the opposition Labor Party.

“I am fully aware that while my party chooses a new leader, you watch us choose your next prime minister… I hope you like at least one of us,” Mordaunt told television viewers.

Tugendhat won plaudits from the studio audience for having clearly distanced himself from Johnson – nodding when asked if he trusted the prime minister – while Badenoch said her rival evaded tough decisions by never serving him in Johnson’s government.

Down to two by July 21

Sunak, whose decision to quit the Treasury last week helped trigger a series of cabinet resignations that brought down Johnson, remains a favorite of 358 fellow Conservative parliamentarians.

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But his lead over Truss and Mordaunt is slim, both of which could overtake him depending on who lawmakers backing the other candidates choose to support. The battle is becoming increasingly hostile as opponents fight to stay in the competition.

On Thursday, Attorney General Suella Braverman dropped out of the race and threw her support behind Truss, who also had the backing of David Frost negotiating Brexit. Read more

The Times reported that Johnson was urging defeated leadership candidates to support “anyone but my feathers”.

Meanwhile, Mordaunt, a lesser known figure in the general public who has become a favorite of bookmakers, is facing increasing attacks from rival camps because of her experience, with Frost saying she has not been strict enough on the EU, a major issue for many. conservatives.

He also criticized both Truss and Badenoch Mordaunt for taking what they considered to be too liberal on transgender issues.

It will resume congressional voting on Monday, eliminating the candidate with the fewest votes each time, until the last two are chosen by July 21.

The new leader will then be chosen by the 200,000 Conservative Party members, and will be announced on September 5.

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Additional reporting by William James. Editing by John Stonestreet and Jonathan Otis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.