UK PM Race: Tory members grill Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak in Birmingham hustings

On Brexit, both the Tory leadership candidates vowed to reset the relationship between European Union

London: In a quest to succeed Boris Johnson as the next Tory Party leader and UK Prime Minister, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that she wants UK to be an aspiration nation as she pledged to deliver on the opportunities of Brexit and promised immediate tax cuts with a reversal in National Insurance increase while former chancellor Rishi Sunak vowed to reset the relationship between EU and UK if he becomes the next Prime Minister of Britain.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak explained their long-term visions for Britain as they came face to face during the 10th round of hustings in Birmingham on Tuesday.

Both contenders have to undergo bouts of 12 nationwide events as the first bout took place in Leeds, Northern England as the members elect a new leader.The result will be announced on Sept 5.

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Truss indicated that she will strongly push back against “identity politics of the left” as she has envisioned the legislation for single-sex spaces such as domestic violence shelters whereas Sunak backtracked by putting forward the idea of cutting VAT to revive the country’s economic situation.

Moreover, Truss promised to introduce a moratorium on the green levy and reverse the National Insurance increase, responding to which Sunak said that direct financial assistance is the best way out to support people with low incomes rather than tax cuts.

On Brexit, both the Tory leadership candidates vowed to reset the relationship between European Union (EU) and the UK and said that the next leader will continue to create opportunities to re-establish the ties.

“The EU and UK are “at loggerheads” over the Northern Ireland Protocol but with a new prime minister we have a chance to reset that relationship,” said Sunak.

Speaking to the Tory members on the economy, the former chancellor said that he will reform the NHS to prevent constantly throwing more money at it whereas Liz Truss underlined the need for a fiscal event to deal with the cost of living crisis and said that her first priority would be reducing taxes.

“My first priority is reducing taxes because what I don’t believe is taking money in taxes and giving it back to people in benefits”, she said, adding that country’s growth is the need of the hour.

Notably, corporation tax, policing and ethics were the key highlights in the Conservative party hustings at the NEC in Birmingham on Tuesday.

Truss is currently leading in surveys of Tory members after vowing immediate tax cuts as Britain confronts a slump in living standards.

The former chancellor, Rishi Sunak and British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss traded blows at each other over economic policy, and foreign relations in the first-ever TV debate on July 25. The candidates reportedly clashed over Britain’s future ties with China after cutting ties with Russia.

The second Tory leadership debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, however, got cancelled after presenter Kate McCann fainted and collapsed live on air.

In July, Sunak and UK foreign secretary Liz Truss emerged as the final two candidates in the country’s leadership race of the ruling Conservative party. International Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt was knocked out in the final round of ballot among Conservative lawmakers. Sunak won 137 votes and Truss 113.

The contest to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister is now in the hands of Conservative Party members, who will select the winner on September 5 via mail-in ballot.

Both candidates have made pledges on tax cuts as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. However, Sunak dismissed as “fairytales” his rivals’ promises of immediate tax cuts, arguing that inflation must be brought under control first. Truss, on the other hand, promised to start cutting taxes from day one.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are vying to replace Boris Johnson as UK’s next Prime Minister. The Tory Leadership Race was triggered after Johnson was forced to step down on July 7 amid an avalanche of resignations of government officials, who protested against his scandal-plagued leadership.

Johnson will continue to serve as caretaker prime minister until a new Tory leader succeeds him.

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