Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss compete for Tory members’ support in Cheltenham leadership hustings – UK politics live

Latest Conservative hustings at 7pm

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will go head-to-head in Cheltenham in around 15 minutes, you can follow all of the action here.

Key events

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Now it is Sunak’s turn for some questions.

Asked why he believed Tory MP Chris Skidmore had defected from his campaign to Truss’s, Sunak pointed out he “led in every single round” of the parliamentary stage of the contest.

The former chancellor said: “We are only half way through this thing. I am going to fight until the last day with everything I have got because I am fighting for what I believe in.”

Truss, who says she will not have an election before 2024, has dismissed suggestions she might be modelling herself on Margaret Thatcher, insisting: “I am my own person.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of Mrs Thatcher, but we live in different times.”

Answering questions from the public, Truss said “I absolutely don’t support” a windfall tax on oil and gas firms.

Truss was asked what she would consider success to be after her first 90 days in Downing Street if she wins.

She said she would want to show that the UK is “moving in the right direction” and that pressures on household finances are “being reduced”.

The foreign secretary said she would also want to see evidence of growing investment in the UK and to “get a grip” of NHS waiting lists.

Will she scrap the BBC licence fee, Truss replied: “I will reform the BBC licence fee and I certainly think it is completely wrong that so many women are in jail for non-payment of it.”

Truss also vowed to keep the net zero pledge.

Truss was asked a series of yes/no questions.

On cutting foreign aid, she said: “I will keep it as it is.”

Leave the ECHR: “If we need to, but I’d rather legislate through the British Bill of Rights.”

Will she sack 91,000 civil servants: “I will certainly reduce the size of the civil service over time.”

Truss was asked if she is the sort of politician who changes her position to suit her ambitions having been a Lib Dem and also supported Remain before becoming a Brexiteer.

Truss replies she was “pretty equivocal at the time” on Brexit in the run up to the 2016 referendum and she “wasn’t sure”.

She said she was “concerned about potential disruption” of leaving the EU.

Truss insists she is “low tax, pro growth, pro opportunity” and she wants to ensure the UK is open for business.

Asked if she is therefore “low tax and high borrowing” to pay for it, she said: “My tax cuts… will cost £30 billion. That is affordable within our current budget… I am afraid to say the plans of raising taxes are likely to lead to a recession…”

Truss said there is a “real danger of us talking ourselves into a recession”.

Asked if he she is for or against “handouts” to help with energy bills, she said “my first preference is always to reduce taxes” but stressed she cannot write or announce the contents of a budget now.

We now move onto the questions.

Truss is asked how she would lower people’s energy bills.

She said her starting point would be helping people through tax cuts and that we “shouldn’t be taking money off people in taxes and then giving it back as benefits”.

On tackling inflation, Sunak said: “We have seen this story before. Inflation is the enemy that makes everyone poorer.”

On Liz Truss’s tax cutting pledges and plan for the economy, the former chancellor said: “What I will not do is pursue policies that risk making inflation far worse and last far longer…”

Sunak said his three main goals as Tory leader would be to “restore trust”, “rebuild the economy” and “reunite our country”.


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