UK Tory leadership rivals trade blows over tax and spending

2022-07-16 11:59:48
UK Tory leadership rivals trade blows over tax and spending

Tory leadership frontrunners have clashed over on how best to fund public services and control inflation in the contest's first TV debate.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss attacked tax rises introduced under ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak as "wrong" and pledged to reverse them.

But Mr Sunak said they were needed to fund the NHS, and accused her of believing in economic "fairy tales".

Rivals also sparred over Boris Johnson, trans rights and trust in politics.

All five remaining candidates in the Tory leadership race took part in the Channel 4 TV debate, the first of two this weekend. They come ahead of the next round of MPs' voting on Monday.

Tory MPs will whittle the field down to two final contenders next week, before around 160,000 Tory members decide the party's next leader in a postal vote.

In a lively 90 minutes of exchanges, the economic backdrop loomed large as candidates were pushed on how they would fund public services and help people with the cost of living during a time of soaring inflation.

Mr Sunak, currently in pole position among MPs, was forced to defend tax rises introduced during his time as chancellor, including April's hike in National Insurance to pay for social care and the NHS.

Ms Truss, who came third in the latest MPs' voting round on Thursday, said the hike had been "wrong" and said she had "called it out" in cabinet.

She said if she won power she would reverse the rise, as well as removing green levies on energy bills - saying she would pay for it for by spreading the UK's "Covid debt" over a longer period.

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